It's been a long road here, but SuperTuxKart finally made it. After nineteen years of development including no less than two separate development teams, three engine changes, ten releases, the wait for SuperTuxKart is over. Tux is here, and he's ready to rumble on PCs, Macs, and Android (cross-play).
Enter The Tux
SuperTuxKart has been a mostly* complete game for years, offering single player and splitscreen modes. With this gold release, it now has Network Play(!) and a Story Mode reminiscent of a certain 90s monkey racing game.
It does have controller support for nearly every conceivable controller and supports custom mapping, so I jumped right into the settings panel and made the controls mine. Unlike some weirdos, I don't use a wiimote, but it supports that if that's your thing (or if you need extra controllers for guests).
Split Screens supports up to eight players, which is... actually pretty good. Though, I don't have that many local friends, so I wasn't able to test it. The four player splitscreen was rock solid at 60FPS even with graphics maxed out on PC.
Online, we experienced a few issues; random frame drops, regardless of server player count or number of players per station. However, there weren't any significant issues - I didn't notice any lag regardless of platform, nor teleportation or glitches. I wasn't able to replicate these issues in LAN/local network mode. Your experience may vary.
Karts feel heavy but can tip in surprising ways if you decide to ramp a round rock or get t-boned by an opponent. While you can slide around corners, lightly tapping directional keys worked better - slides/drifts are better used for dodging incoming projectiles or avoiding opponents.
Weapons variety is okay, consisting of a few defensive options (bubblegum shield, swatter), a shenangians option (switcheroo), a speedboost, and three offensive weapons (plunger, bowling ball, muffin). The addition of powerdowns makes it a little more fun; if you don't mind risking an anchor or parachute, you can pick up dynamite to use to boost speed - or pass it off to an opponent to send them sky high. It's harder than it sounds: karts barrel down the road at very high speeds. But it's satisfying as heck when you land a perfectly-aimed ball on an opponent or trap an opponent with a well-placed bubblegum.
The game can look surprisingly pretty on newer showcase tracks, but often feels like a PS2 game in looks and design sensibilities. Textures are essentially baked into the maps, which makes it easy for servers to host custom maps, but also means that even with new shaders, old modded maps will still look dated.
Still, the game is fundamentally fun, whether that's single-player, splitscreen, or online. It plays great across all platforms, providing an easy to learn and fun experience at home or on the go. As whole, the project is quite impressive for a volunteer-created game.
The Android Experience
Android, for the most part, plays just like the PC version and has all the same features. It's slightly less battery thirsty than Mario Kart Tour, making it the second-best roadtrip game behind Mario Kart 7 (3DS). Graphics took quite a hit, but the game remained quite fun.
The main innovations on mobile are the controls: your choice of auto-accelerator or manual accelerator, paired with gyro controls or on-screen steering wheel. (Stick with the steering wheel for competitive mode.)
Even with the concessions made to graphics, it remains an absolute banger to play. Network play was rock-solid in testing.
In short, it's pretty darn good on Android.
For those of you on iOS, it looks like an iOS port is in the roadmap for the next major release sometime in 2020/2021.
Here's to another 20 years of SuperTuxKart!
- SuperTuxKart didn't have network support until the 1.0 release, but all other features have existed in previous releases. Story Mode was reworked for 1.0.