I came away from my time with Coffin Dodgers trying to figure out how to best summarize my time with it. In the end what I came up with is that it is a series of missed opportunities, which is a shame given the fact that the kart genre could certainly use an infusion of new blood (or in this case perhaps old blood?). The game is playable, but from start to finish, I could not help but notice a list of things where Coffin Dodgers could have been better.
When it comes to kart racing games, we all know that Mario Kart is almost always in the leader's position. That series sets a pretty high bar for those games looking to draw inspiration from and compete in the action/racing space. Coffin Dodgers briefly shines some potential to perhaps race near the front of the pack, but it never really capitalizes on that opportunity. There are lots of good racing games on the Xbox One, but the same cannot be said for kart racers. There was an opportunity here for Coffin Dodgers to benefit from this, but despite a quick and amusing start, the game's flaws start to show through.
There is some really solid potential here, starting with the ridiculous but entertaining premise that sees some residents of a retirement village pimping their rides (in this case an assortment of scooters and strollers) as the Grim Reaper has come to pay them a visit. Win... or else. This amusing premise graced with bright, colorful visuals set the stage for what could have been an absolutely hilarious racing game. Without a doubt, there is enough charm and moments of humor to help prop this part of Coffin Dodgers up, though the graphics themselves are actually pretty terrible. Early on I was able to overlook this as I found the over-the-top antics of the game distracting me from the blocky visuals that recycle a lot of the same assets and generally lack detail and smooth animations. The more I played and looked around, the more I began to realize that aesthetically speaking, Coffin Dodgers would have made for a solid-looking title last console generation, but hardly leverages the horsepower of the current consoles in any meaningful way.
As with battle/kart games of this nature, power-ups are key to success. I don't really know what I was expecting, but the more I played, the more I came away with the feeling that Coffin Dodgers could have used an infusion of originality here as well. Machine guns, rockets, oil slicks - they are appropriately over the top, but also something we see in just about any karting game. Given the really unique setting and storyline, it seems like this was yet another opportunity for this title to try and distinguish itself from the competition. I did like the upgrade system that helps to infuse some variety into the proceedings, but it is still pretty superficial stuff that had room for improvement.
Coffin Dodgers is an example of a title that really does not hold up long for single player experiences either. Kart racers are always more fun with a friend - I spent many of my college hours with buddies huddling around the television playing Mario Kart 64 and laughing at the resulting antics. Coffin Dodgers is certainly capable of capturing this spirit in small doses, though it never finds any consistent greatness even with multiplayer, which is a bad sign. The story mode is quite brief, requiring less than two hours to see to completion as well.
The Xbox One could have used a killer kart game (pun intended), but unfortunately gets something that feels more dated than the geriatrics starring in Coffin Dodgers. Momentary smiles are here due to a charming idea and a solid if shallow formula. Kart racing fans will probably be able to enjoy what Coffin Dodgers has to offer, but the overall list of missed opportunities eventually adds up to be too much for this title to overcome. Mario Kart is still in the pole position while Coffin Dodgers is destined to get lost in the middle of the pack.
Milky Tea Studios
Wales Interactive Ltd.
Article by Nick