Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing is one of the better alternatives to Nintendo’s own classic and has the charm to carry itself

While most look to Disney for among the most recognisable, beloved animated characters, Dreamworks have been quietly building quite a roster of their own.

Shrek, of course, goes front and centre, but you’ve got Puss in Boots who’s had his own very successful spin-offs, and Kung-Fu Panda who has warmed people’s hearts. The Trolls are really in fashion at the moment, and don’t forget about Boss Baby. Even though I often try…

From How to Train Your Dragon to Madagascar, this latest Kart Racer has a whole host of familiar faces for you to get behind the wheel of an absurd looking vehicle with. Even the company mascot! And it’s actually pretty good. Certainly a much better offering than the recent Smurfs Kart.

What’s become clear about games like this, though, is not to match them up to Mario Kart. Even though that’s the magnum opus and the game we all keep coming back to, these games just don’t have the same level of polish, of Nintendo style and flair, and the ridiculous attention to detail and quality.

Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing is good for what it is. By no means perfect, definitely not awful, just a good old fashioned, fun racer which is full of charm.

To start with, you’ve got your single player content, There’s Free Race and Time Trials, of course, and thankfully you’ve got a nice selection of cups to race through. Each playable at four different race speeds. Feeling a little unsure about your skill level? Drop down to relaxed. Fancy a challenge, there’s Lightning mode right there for you.

Regardless, you’ve got six different cups to race through. Though the last – Moon Child – is frustratingly just a mix of races you’ll have already gone through. Which feels a bit anticlimatic since it’s the last one and you have to unlock it to play.

But there’s some really nice tracks in here. Shrek’s Swamp, of course, was a bit of an instant classic and one I was drawn to early on. But there’s also the really striking Hidden City which really showcases the lovely visual style the game has. And Dragon’s Keep which is just the most wonderful homage to Bowser’s Castle. Though Galactic Sky really isn’t a patch on Rainbow Road, sadly.

Sorry, I’m comparing. That’ll be the last time, I promise. Though the game does play out in much the same way with you gathering little Moon Child boxes – yes, the Dreamworks mascot has replaced the question marks – and collecting powerups to use in battle. The cool thing here is each powerup actually pays homage to the character you play and has slightly different properties.

Shrek, for example, can get onions which he throws at other racers. Po, meanwhile, gets dumplings. Because he’s a Kung Fu Panda after all.

But there’s also a few differences here. During races, you’ll also collect musical notes and when you fill up your musical bubble enough, you can actually summon a Troll host who can give you an added bonus. All the hosts do something different, like speed boosts or briefly turning you into a magnet to collect powerups. And it’s a nice way to keep you actively competitive, even when you missed a Dreamworks box and have no weapons at your disposal.

The other unique element to Dreamworks All Star Kart Racing are tokens which you can gather and pick up during races. These are usually tucked away somewhere on the race, perhaps off the beaten track somewhere, or getting you to veer slightly off the designated course.

There’s also shortcuts in all tracks which you unlock by collecting an ethereal harp. This opens up a rainbow coloured track which you can traverse using speed boosts, and often gets you out of sticky situations below or leads you right to the special token. The tokens are added to your overall completion score for a cup and usually you’ve only got one chance to get them. That’s because any racer can pick them up at any point, so if you’re trailing behind in that first lap, chances are you missed your window.

It does add a nice replayable element to each cup actually. And these games are designed to be played again and again, whether you’re competing for personal bests, playing locally with your friends or diving online to compete with the rest of the world.

There’s also Challenges in this one which are broken up into Tiers. You’re presented with a distinct mission objective and if you complete it, you’ll unlock a customisable part for your kart. Might be a new engine, chassis or perhaps a spoiler. But all of these can be used to customise your kart during selection screens and increase properties like speed, handling, and even charisma.

It’s just a much more robust offering than Smurfs Kart which was as bare bones as could be. It sounds simple, but here you can throw behind you, there’s more variety to the courses, as mentioned you can gradually unlock more content and even fine tune your kart to match your racing prowess. There’s even an online component.

The repetitive character voices do grate, and quite often you’ll want them to stop talking. I love Donkey as much as the next, but I didn’t need to hear the joke of him being a noble steed riding a noble quite so much. And Kung Fu Panda’s shrill shrieking after turning every corner just made me turn the sound down.

The courses, as mentioned, do also run out of variety. There’s not enough to fill all the cups and some do feel like direct rips of each other. There’s a few treasures in here, no doubt, but only a few you may remember and not always for the best reasons. The Boss Baby track can genuinely do one. The rest are, ultimately, quite forgettable.

I also would have loved some form of battle mode, but multiplayer does, unfortunately, just seem to boil down to cups and free racing. Which is fine, but I do feel like a bit more could have been done here.

But this is a nice little racer that gives you plenty of reasons to keep playing and hopefully is the start of a franchise as there’s plenty of ways to keep evolving and improving the formula for future iterations. I would absolutely LOVE them to have some kind of flying track on the backs of Dragons to really explore Hiccup’s world or go on horseback and take a trip to El Dorado. There was also a surprising lack of Turbo in this which would have surely made a perfect accompaniment for a Kart Racer.

But with no new Mar…that other Kart Racer in sight any time soon beyond the Booster Course Pack, this makes quite an opening accounting for itself.


Dreamworks All Star Kart Racing is the best alternative racer in the genre for a long time. There’s a great roster to choose from, kart variety and garage customisation lets you tweak your vehicle how you see fit, and it all looks really well presented and polished. Track variety is a little bit limited and repetitive with only one or two memorable standouts, multiplayer modes could be a bit more varied and the voice acting grates after a while, but this is a really promising start for, what we hope will be, an ongoing franchise with more games to come. 


+ Dreamworks tracks and cast really come alive here
+ Fun gameplay and enjoyable hooks to keep it replayable
+ A good cast variety and customisation options


– Voice acting gets a bit annoying after a while and music really doesn’t stand out
– Track repetition and over familiarity gets a bit tedious
– More multiplayer options would have been great

Dreamworks All Star Kart Racing is out now on PC, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation 

Code Kindly Provided by GameMill for review purposes

Played on PlayStation 5

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