SAN FRANCISCO--Sitting in a cubicle-style booth talking over the din of passersby to discuss a free kart racing game? We must be at the Game Developers Conference 2009, and the game we're talking about is definitely GoGoRacer from K2 Network (or maybe some other game, but just play along). This colorful, kid-friendly arcade-style racer bears more than a passing resemblance to Nintendo's classic Mario Kart console racing games, from the cutesy, super-deformed drivers to the glittering, rainbow-colored prize boxes that float over the track until you plow right through them to pick up the power-up item inside.
GoGoRacer will let you create your own customizable driver and collect a garage full of customizable vehicles for use in the game's ongoing online races. Different vehicles will have different properties that will work better in some situations than others. For instance, street racer karts will work better on asphalt tracks, while pickup trucks will work better on dirt tracks--currently, about a dozen tracks are planned for the game's launch.
Winning races will be a function of skillful use of your nitrous (turbo boost) meter, boosted jumps (taking a high-speed jump off of a raised ramp will give you an additional speed boost reminiscent of the 8-bit Nintendoclassic Excitebike), smart use of power-up items, and maybe a little luck. Getting a W will net you choice car parts and modifications such as paint jobs and engine enhancers that help your vehicle get the most out of its limited nitrous turbo boosts (which appear at the bottom of the screen as a refillable meter). But as you might expect from a free-to-play online game, GoGoRacer will also let you purchase these enhancements at low, low prices as a "microtransaction," though K2 Network representatives suggest that even buying lots of enhancements won't help a lousy player defeat a skilled one. Also, it turns out that you'll be able to keep track of your in-game friends and enemies, regardless of their skill level, by using the game's built-in connection to social networking sites such as Facebook. GoGoRacer is currently gearing up for its next phase of beta and will launch later this year.