Nordic Games released their first foray into Karting territory just before Christmas... and it was terrible. Jungle Kartz is a horribly cheap and genuinely nasty piece of merchandise, but the more canny amongst us recognised it for what it was: a tech demo for the Inflatakart peripheral. Nordic's inflatable Go-Kart retails at a relatively low price point, features a sprung steering wheel that houses a WiiMote and is compatible with any and all tilt-controlled Wii racers.
There's nothing cheap and nasty about the Inflatakart, and it's high time we gave this plastic powerhouse a full road test.
Setting Blowing Up
Setup is an absolute doddle. After checking the box for an extraneous copy of Jungle Kartz and burning it (an extremely important part of the procedure) you'll simply have to inflate the peripheral using the provided foot pump. Note, however, that the pump is rather flimsy - so if you happen to have one lying around, it might be worth using that instead. Regardless, it does the job, and once you've blown up both valves the only remaining task is to attach the wheel mount to the hardpoint - a simple and secure matter of rotating and locking it into place - and clicking the wheel itself into the mount. As mentioned, the Wheel contains a rectangular groove to slide the WiiMote into, where it sits securely.
If necessary, you can top up the Inflatakart by blowing into it. It's an inflatable. I shouldn't really have to explain the process.
The Inflatakart is a remarkably solid piece of kit. I'm reliably informed that Nordic thoroughly tested it up to 100KG, and since I weigh just short of 88 kilos myself, I can attest that it can support most adults without fear of rupture or losing pressure. The wheel is surprisingly solid and sprung to provide resistance while turning, though of course, whether it will survive months of being played with comes down to the child in question. I'm certain that it will weather all but the boisterous unsupervised assaults - at least long enough to get your money's worth.
However, we have heard reports of some units developing small slow punctures, so if this happens, use the supplied repair kit to stop them getting too big. Be sure to thoroughly inflate and test the Inflatakart as soon as you unbox to ensure that it hasn't shipped with any defects.
Sorry, adults, but I'm afraid that the Inflatakart is not for you. Though its box proudly proclaims a "3-70" age range, it's designed and sized for a 3-11 year old audience.
But you can sit in it anyway, legs hunched up or sprawled out to the sides, which I naturally had to do in order to write the review. And I'm glad I did, because the Inflatakart really is great fun. The resistive wheel adds a serious sense of immersion that you just can't get from a Wii Wheel or holding the WiiMote in your bare hands, and the feeling of actually being in a Go-Kart is a simple pleasure in and of itself. You might look a bit silly, but the Inflatakart genuinely adds to the racing experience.
So long, sadly, as you're young enough to enjoy it. And fit inside, more to the point.
So, the Inflatakart is well-built, great for kids and reasonable value at RRP thanks to its compatibility with all Wii racing games. There's just one major problem... and gallingly, it's not actually the peripheral's fault.
The heady days when plastic guitars reined supreme are history now, replaced by the austerity of post-recession reality. The Wii is on its way out, and will be receiving the bare minimum of software support in the last few months before its successor, the Wii U, gets a formal unveiling. Had the Inflatakart released years ago, back when Mario Kart Wii was all the rage and Nintendo's console was the 'must have' Christmas toy, it would have been a dead cert and sold by the vanload.
- Excellent build quality, solid sprung steering wheel
- Great fun for kids, or adults if you're willing to look a bit daft
- Compatible with all tilt-controlled Wii racing games
- Too late to make a difference?
- Provided pump is slightly flimsy
The Short Version: The Inflatakart is ridiculous and brilliant. Silly, completely redundant, and great.
I can't help wishing that it had released years ago to coincide with the Wii's heyday, but if your kids still love to play racing games, they're going to go mad for it.