Meow Motors is the latest release by Russian developers ArtVostok. While I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a Mario Kart clone, it definitely, like most kart racing games draws lots of inspiration and ideas from Nintendo’s powerhouse. The concept of the game makes it feel different. However, after a basic story, forgetful characters and a five hour play time to reach 100% completion, any differences are left in the dust.
The story mode centers around Rocky, a cat racer who is run off the road by a masked rival. Your job is to progress through the story to avenge this loss, along the way you unlock new characters, cars and power-ups/weapons to use during races. The story is played across nine “Events” consisting of three to ten races but there are only three different race types; Circuit, Drift and Strike.
Circuit is a regular one or two lap race consisting of multiple racers with the ability to use power-ups to slow down your opponents. Drift mode is where you score points by drifting and earn more the longer and more consistent the drift and the most enjoyable race type. Strike mode is where you have 2 minutes to eliminate the most amount of racers. You progress through the game using a star system, where you earn 1-3 stars depending on how you did in each race, this isn’t a huge concern as the game poses no real difficulty even later in the game.
Overall the game has a nice polished look and the art style and animations are very smooth and clean. The soundtrack, for the most part, was fine but it doesn’t really suit the area of where the race takes place sometimes. For example, one track takes place on a beach yet the music is very southern with heavy use of a banjo.
One major gripe I had with the game was the in-game text, a lot of the time it was grammatically incorrect or missing a letter. This is even seen on the trophy list, here is a literal example of a trophy description from the game,
“Fix your car when the only one health point remains.”
The game was probably originally written in Russian and translated to English. However, if you’re going to appeal to a wide audience who speaks English, this stuff should not slip through the cracks.
Gameplay wise the game is solid, each new car comes with its own perk. For example, one car won’t lose control when driving on an oil spill or one car won’t be penalized by over accelerating at the beginning of the race and the variations of colors and designs between each car were very well thought out and executed by the artists. The weapons and power-ups used in the game were clever and fun to use and you unlock more when you earn enough stars in each stage. My personal favorites were “Nuts” which was a machine gun attachment that shoots … wait for it … “Nuts” at the other racers to slow them down. Another mode, “Shark” is where a literal shark targets the racer in front of the player and latches on to his/her head to obscure vision and steer them off the road.
I am quite a completionist, so I found myself aiming to get the maximum three stars per race which for the most part was not very difficult so by the time the four and a half hour story wrapped up I had completed everything that the game had to offer and it offered me no replay value at all and it served as a fairly quick and easy Platinum trophy to add to my collection.
There isn’t much more that can be said for Meow Motors. Visually, it was easy on the eye. Character and vehicle designs made up for a lack of race track variety. Additionally, the handling of the cars and use of the power-ups was fun and easy to get the hang of. The star progression system and straightforward trophy list ticked all of my completionist boxes. The story mode and characters were forgetful but that isn’t usually the main reason why you’d play a racing game in the first place anyways.
Unless you’re looking for a very basic kart racer, want to play a short enough game for the easy platinum trophy or need a cheap alternative to Crash Team Racing to fill the void until it releases, then I would leave Meow Motors in the litter box.