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nekobun avatar 3:02 PM on 04.10.2012  (server time)
Dreaming: Karting... Evolved

Ah, the mascot/franchise-based kart racing game. Once an oft-abused staple of the cash-in side of game production, the tendency for publishers to slap their characters into a realm of zany tracks and madcap fantasy weaponry seems to have mostly faded from the public eye. Aside from the continued persistence of the Mario Kart series, the rush to milk properties by slapping new wheels on them that surged in the 64-bit era and hung on a bit into the days of the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube has mostly faded into antiquity.

Personally, I'm disappointed by this. And I want to bring it back, with a racing take on the most inappropriately glorious series for the role. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to pitch...

Halo: Karting Evolved.

Take the framework laid down by the original Super Mario Kart, down to the 16-bit graphics and Mode 7 goodness, but with new tracks, an expanded weapon spread, different vehicles to choose from, and a huge cast of characters, all from the Halo universe. Make it downloadable. If possible, throw in some online multiplayer, though even couch co-op would be better than nothing and an appropriate throwback. Who wouldn't want that?

Besides, you know, Halo purists, or the sort of gorillas that dominate the multiplayer scene anymore. I think, for the most part, this would draw in a huge amount of Halo fans, as well as attention from 343 Industries, perhaps even praise if their attitude toward fan-created content is as healthy as Bungie's was.

The universe itself is rich enough to provide material for a huge number of tracks, with indvidual courses being divvied up into Cups based on the games from which those tracks originated. One for each numbered game, plus ODST, Reach, and Halo Wars, with a seperate cup or two for tracks based on classic multiplayer arenas, and you've already got a lot of racing to do. To allow for a wider cast of characters, I think it'd be easier to break things down into archetypes with basic stat spreads, like SPARTAN-IIs, SPARTAN-IIIs, AIs, Elites, ODSTs, and so forth, with individual, familiar faces selectable from those sets with their own slightly different advantages and disadvantages. Out-of-game canon, such as the novels, animated shorts, and what have you could fill in the ranks where the games run out of source material.

The same thing goes for vehicles. We've seen so many drivable and pilotable things cruising through Halo that'd be impossible to get them all in with their own stat sets, and unfair to cut it down to just a dozen or less, so again, an archetype-based system would have to be in place. Start all the way down at small ground vehicles (Mongoose, Ghost), and work your way up through Warthog-sized stuff, Scorpion and Wraith tanks, and so forth all the way up to capital ships. Everything would still have to be scaled to the same basic size for graphics' sake, but smaller vehicles would come with acceleration and maneuvering bonuses, whereas the big boys would be meaty as hell and full of momentum once you got them moving.

The weapon selection might need to be pared down a bit from the veritable deluge of firearms we've had access to in first person, but that's a little more reasonable a task. I mean, who's really going to be able to effectively use a sniper rifle while driving, even if it's got auto-aim? Throw in some automatic weaponry, sidearms, a couple of rifles, and frags and stickies, and you're pretty well set to go.

Since I doubt the chances of 343 Industries getting to so desperate a cash-in point to make such a game anytime soon, Karting Evolved would have to be an indie, not-for-profit effort. Given the success of such homage style games as Abobo's Big Adventure, Super Mario Crossover, the PixelForce demakes, and more, I imagine it'd be possible to find an audience willing to donate to make things happen. Granted, it's more than likely to stay just a dream, but if anyone else out there is as crazy as me, don't hesitate to get in touch; I've put a lot more thought into this than is probably healthy for someone who can't do sprite art or code, and it'd be like writing a novel to go into it in-depth here.

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