SNES A Day 206: Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge

Approximate Release Month: June 1993
Genre: Racing
Developer: Park Place Productions
Publisher: GameTek

Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge offers motorcycle and Jet Ski racing in one cartridge. That’s great and all, but neither is developed enough to offer a full experience.

There are two crucial issues with the game. First, piloting the bikes and boats is overly difficult. Whenever I would take a turn, a combination of over- and under-steering and then over-correcting from that would send me into the track wall. Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge is brutally difficult, so wiping out once is likely to relegate you to near-last place. I never felt comfortable taking turns, even though I did improve as I played more and more.

Second, there is barely a game here. The career-style Challenge mode is the main way to play, despite being listed third on the main menu for whatever reason. There are three islands, each with one motorcycle race and one boat race. You need to place high enough across both races to advance to the next island, and then the cycle repeats. You get sent back to the main menu and have to start over from the start if you fail. Having only six tracks is rather anemic for a racing game, especially one without multiplayer or, you know, fun gameplay. As a bonus, all the tracks look the same.

I’ve mentioned a few times that Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge is hard. Part of the problem is definitely the controls, as mentioned above. The AI is also an issue, or lack thereof. The CPU racers don’t seem to react to the player’s existence. If you get in their assigned racing line, they won’t react or try to get around you. They will go through you. This, combined with the fact the CPU drives mostly perfectly, makes jockeying for position difficult. I was unable to make it past the second island.

I’d like to end this review with some positive impressions, but I don’t have any. The Jet Skis and the motorcycles drive similarly, so I can’t even recommend the watersports half as a distinguishing factor. There’s a good sense of speed, but the camera whips around as you take turns in a way that I found disorienting. Said camera can’t keep up with the speed ,so I relied on the minimap to know when a turn was coming.

Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge does almost nothing right, yet isn’t bad enough to be interesting. It’s the video game equivalent to stale white bread: you shouldn’t eat it, but at least it’s not covered in mold. There’s no reason to play this when Cyber Spin or even Battle Grand Prix are available and vastly superior overhead racing experiences.

Next week: Luigi gets his own edutainment game because Mario is Missing!

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