One would say that Jimmie Johnson — five time NASCAR champion — knows a thing or two about racing. People would assume that his first foray into the videogame world would be related to his NASCAR profession, and that assumption would be half right. Gene Bahng, executive producer at Autumn Games, gave us a bit of the back story behind Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine at PAX East and revealed that Jimmie is a big fan of Mario Kart.
Jimmie’s motto “I’ll race anything with an engine,” comes from his childhood where he spent time with friends attaching engines to household items and racing them. As an adult, Jimmie would spend time after a big race in the garage with his crew playing Mario Kart. Jimmie wanted to create the same wacky experience of Mario Kart, but for an older audience, and thus Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine was born.
Like most kart racers, this game features some insane characters, including a farmer named Hazzard Mower who rides on a high octane riding mower, an old lady with a souped-up shopping cart, and Megaton, who races around in a giant bomb. Each racer has weapons and defenses tailored to the theme of their cart. The granny on her kart can utilize a giant bunch of bananas as a rear shield, and deploy them as mines on the track. The farmer’s equivalent would be a bag of seed.
Along with the onboard weaponry, players can also trigger environmental hazards, similar to Split/Second. These can be set off by running over the trigger in the road. There are a lot less of them than in Split/Second, though they tend to be a lot funnier. The track being shown at PAX featured a giant cardboard King Kong who who pounded the ground and sent racers flying.
The developers over at Isopod Labs included a mechanic that allows racers to stay competitive when they fall behind. Unlike Mario Kart, where a last place player will get a Bullet Bill or dreaded Blue Shell, this game features shortcuts that can only be triggered when the racer is near last place.
Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine has online multiplayer for up to eight players, including both ranked and private races. Four players can also battle it out on the couch in split-screen races. There were only two modes available to play at PAX. One was your standard circuit race, and the other, which was the most fun of the two, is called Matador.
In Matador, eight racers start in two sets of four, and each set is facing the opposite direction. When the race starts, they take off only to meet head on somewhere on the track. This makes for an insanely fun experience, since not only are players dodging attacks from racers behind them, but also from the front.
Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine will no doubt be a must-have title for players who love kart racing, especially those of you looking to fill the void until Nintendo releases the next Mario Kart.
Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine launches this Summer on PSN and XBLA, and as a retail disk for the Wii.