Unfortunately, cart racers aren't around much anymore. Back in the '90s, almost every franchise had a racing game spin-off but here's a completely original title. The question is; do these old-timers still have enough piss and vinegar to outrun Death itself?
Coffin Dodgers is played just as you'd expect. You race around a retirement community while unleashing a variety of power-ups, smacking your opponents with your cane, and avoiding all kinds of hazards. The story involves Death coming to a small retirement community so its residents decide to race him in order to spare their lives if they win. Then, they tweak their motorized scooters to be racing machines. It's one of the wackiest premises for a game and it'll surely make you smile... at first. The racing itself is mostly cookie-cutter but cart fans will find some enjoyment while participating in the races, especially if you have a few local friends to play with. Overall, Coffin Dodgers doesn't add up to much more than an average cart racer but its unique premise and goofy cast of characters definitely make it a memorable one.
When it comes to graphics, Coffin Dodgers looks like a PlayStation 2 game with simplistic environments and a lack of visual flair. You don't even get a significant sense of speed except for vibrating white lines whenever you boost. The best part of the visuals is the cast of seven old folks who all have stereotypical personalities. You'll meet an Amish man, a biker, a vacationer, a blues musician, a former centrefold, an ex-pilot, and a professor who's working on an anti-aging drug. With characters like these, you'll easily pick your favourite. Anyway, there is no voice acting at all and the sound effects are generic but the orchestral music is well done as it sounds like it's lifted straight from a Pee-wee Herman film. In the end, Coffin Dodgers could use more presentational polish but it's still enjoyable.
Coffin Dodgers has a few modes to play around in. First, the story mode has you compete in a dozen races that take place in four distinct areas (the village, town, farm, and graveyard) plus a massive final race that's a combination of the previous areas. Between each race, you earn money and experience points. I'm not quite sure what the points do but you can use money to upgrade your scooter. Besides this, you can also play quick races and time trials, explore the community, or play a take on Crazy Taxi called "Crazy Granddad". None of these modes are particularly special but you have to give them credit for putting in a Crazy Taxi mode even if it just involves picking up objects that are scattered around. Anyway, you can also enjoy split-screen races for up to four local players.
Although it seems like Coffin Dodgers is packed with content, there really isn't much to it. You can easily complete the story mode in one sitting while the other modes don't offer much replay value at all. They could have definitely expanded on the available selection of modes to provide additional hours of gameplay but as it stands, you'll likely put it down after an hour or two. There's also a great deal of technical issues that get in the way. Frequent lag will make you think that the game is crashing while collision detection can be a nightmare. If just one pixel of your scooter touches a corner of an object, you'll stop dead in your tracks and have to reverse to break free. This might not be a problem, though, because after you perform a couple of upgrades, you're basically unbeatable. That's right, even with these annoying problems, the game gets way too easy and boring. You could reset your upgrades but then what's the point of upgrading at all? There are so many problems that you'd wish Death would just do his job already.
Coffin Dodgers is a simple racer but its lack of polish and content make it one that's difficult to recommend to anyone except the most hardcore cart enthusiasts who need to own every game in the genre.
- + Simple cart racing gameplay that provides a fair amount of fun for up to four players
- + Wacky premise with memorable characters
- + Silly orchestral soundtrack
- - Frequent lag, awful collision detection, and poor graphics are tough pills to swallow
- - It gets way too easy after you upgrade
- - Short on content