Metroid Prime Trilogy? Garbage. Super Mario Galaxy 2? Forget it. There’s only one Switch remaster this world needed, and that’s Moorhuhn Kart 2. And when we say “this world”, we clearly mean Bizarro World, where cats chase dogs, cows milk humans and sventeen-year-old PC racing games get ported to Switch for some reason.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, Moorhuhn Kart 2 (also known in different regions back in the day as Crazy Chicken Kart 2 and Chicken Hunter: License to Grill) was a PC-only karting game and the ninth title in the Moorhuhn series of games, which was based in Germany and starred a comedy chicken.
This Switch version claims to be a ‘remaster’ and certainly has had a subtle lick of paint when you compare it side-by-side to the original. Don’t be expecting anything revolutionary here, though: in fact, in some ways this new version is actually inferior to the PC one despite arriving nearly two decades later.
There are seven characters to choose from, including Moorhuhn itself and some other nondescript animals (plus a scary pumpkin because hey, why not, it’s always Halloween somewhere). Each has their own stats as you’d expect but because the handling is pretty easy and there’s no rubber-banding to speak of, you may as well pick the one with the highest top speed and go for it, which is… (checks notes) ah. The pumpkin.
Once you’ve picked your driver, there are two options available to you: Single Race or Championship. No big surprises here, because the former is self-explanatory and the latter is your typical Mario Kart style Grand Prix consisting of four tracks. Here’s the first problem, though: there are only two Championships, which means the game only has eight tracks in total. Now, we appreciate not every game can be as packed as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but when you’re charging $30 for your game and it has fewer tracks than a Led Zeppelin album that’s not ideal.
That metaphor actually goes deeper than you’d think, because much like Zeppelin’s output, the tracks here can get pretty long: delightfully long in the case of Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham; painfully long here. The Egypt-themed course in particular can take just over seven minutes to beat, and that’s assuming you get a relatively clean run. That may not seem like a long time written down but you’d better believe it goes by slowly (by comparison, Rainbow Road in Mario Kart Wii can easily be done in around three minutes).
It doesn’t help that the game just isn’t that fun to play either. The handling is by-the-books and presents no real problems, but there are no powerslides or anything to actually make navigating corners fun. There is an old-school Mario Kart style hop-and-slide move, but it acts more like a handbrake and dramatically kills your speed, so it’s more just for taking on sharp turns.
Other issues are your standard design flaws that you often find in the lower tiers of karting games: the sort of games that try to emulate the look of Mario Kart but don’t actually get what makes it entertaining. Weapons are completely random, which on paper seems good but in practice means you’ll regularly either find yourself in last place with a bunch of oil slicks and bombs you can only drop behind you, or in first place with a load of projectile weapons that can only fire forwards.
You’re also constantly being hit with two types of weapon in particular: an earthquake thing that spins you out then makes your kart slowly waddle for about ten seconds, and a tornado that sweeps along the track taking out absolutely everyone. This would be frustrating in any situation but the fact that they affect practically every car means they’re pointless, too: all they’re doing is slowing you down and making the game even less fun to play. Blue shells are at least exciting, but watching a tornado move slowly around the map and stopping every player along the way has a dull inevitability to it.
So far so meh, then, but some of Moorhuhn Kart 2’s players won’t even realise that the game is even less polished than its seventeen-year-old PC source material. The characters in that game had more personality: they’d look over their shoulders every now and then, and taunt other racers as they passed them; that doesn’t happen here. The PC game also had 50cc, 100cc and 150cc options, but you won’t get those on the Switch version: once you’ve mastered its sole plodding speed, there’s really nothing left to do.
Actually, that’s not strictly true, there’s also the option to race online with up to seven other players. Let’s face it, though, we know how these things go by now. At the time of writing the game’s been out for a week and we haven’t been able to find a race yet, and given that it’s a sub-par $30 karting game with a character practically unknown outside of Germany — on a system that already has Mario, Sonic and Crash racers on it no less — we doubt that’s going to change.
Ultimately, like so many smaller games that launch with dead online modes, there’s no way this was ever going to have even a small online community, and we wish the team had focused its resources on tightening the local single-player and multiplayer racing instead of putting energy into something that was always destined to be tumbleweeds as far as the eye can see.
It’s just hard to recommend this to anyone, really. If you’re the world’s biggest fan of the original Moorhuhn Kart and you’re made of money, then go for it – viel Spaß haben, as they say. But thirty bucks for a game with only eight long, dull tracks would have been a hard sell back in 2004, even on the PC with its relative lack of good karting games at the time. To charge that much in 2021 on a system dominated by great karting games, though, is clucking ridiculous.
Moorhuhn Kart 2 takes a game that’s nearly two decades old, tweaks the visuals a bit, then actually removes elements from it (such as its character animations and speed settings). With only eight tracks on offer it would be underwhelming at a budget price, but given it’s selling for $30 at launch there’s nowhere near enough content or quality to justify that price.