Wildshade: Unicorn Champions – Unikart

Power sliding unicorns doesn't get old

Race horses and sling spells in Wildshade: Unicorn Champions

We’re a little bit past the kart racer boom of a few years ago now, but along comes a new contender that doesn’t even include any karts. Yes, Wildshade: Unicorn Champions aims to grab a little slice of the Mario Kart pie, but this one has you riding around on horses and unicorns through a pretty fantasy realm. Whilst it isn’t amazing by any stretch, it’s a nice introduction to this style of game for a younger audience, and has some adorable animals to boot.

Before you get started, you’ll need to pick your rider and horse, none of which have any impact on the gameplay, so pick whatever combination you want. You can even name your horse by choosing from two sets of words. My daughter decided Blue Moon was an excellent choice and we rode off into the tutorial. 

Mechanically, this is even simpler than Mario Kart, which likely is due to its mobile game roots. There’s no accelerating here, with your steed hurtling off right from the start and automatically jumping over small obstacles. Amusingly, the drifting mechanic is present and correct, meaning you can power slide a horse around corners for a speed boost. The first time I watched this happen gave me a fit of laughter, but from a gameplay standpoint it makes sense to include as you have no way of slowing down. 

Wildshade: Unicorn Champions
Bottles act as power ups, or spells in this case.

You also have access to spells, which are really just items you’d pick up in most kart racers. Wildshade: Unicorn Champions uses fire spells as homing attacks and wind spells for speed boosts, so it’s all quite thematic. As a nice feature, spells recharge over time, meaning if you don’t manage to snag an item box you’ll be gifted a random one in due time. You can speed this up by going over jumps and picking up crystals on the track. Oddly, none of this is explained in the tutorial or any menus, so you kind of need to find your own way. 

Mercifully, the opponent AI is pretty low in the I department. More than often I’d see other horses skidding into walls, or taking the longer route through a course rather than an easily accessible shortcut. This is fine, being as it’s aimed at a younger audience, but it’s odd that there are no options to up the challenge. My daughter, who isn’t particularly adept at racing games, was smashing through the field in most races, coming first in 90% of stages on her first try. It’s certainly forgiving for a racer.

The courses themselves are varied enough, with some nice backgrounds and layouts. Don’t expect anything wildly different from stage to stage, but the environments are nice enough, and the races themselves fit with the biome they’re set in. Beach and cliffside courses are more windy, whilst those going through a castle courtyard might involve sharp left and right turns to navigate. You unlock these as you play through the campaign, earning stars for finishing in decent positions. New horses are also unlocked this way, and that brings me to a rather unique mechanic for the kart racer genre.

Wildshade: Unicorn Champions
There are a nice variety of different looking environments, but they don’t really change the racing a great deal.

Breeding! You can breed karts! By which I mean horses. There’s little reason to do this, as all the horses are mechanically the same, but you can access unique looks by pairing up two horses. It’s a nice little feature that’s in essence a cosmetic customisation system based on the characteristics of the two equine racers you choose. Coat, markings, and even eye colour are rated by rarity, so unlocking one of those late-game coats and combining it with a rare eye colour can lead to some interesting-looking results. I can’t imagine I’d ever want to tinker with it too deeply, but my daughter had a lovely time pairing up horses with unicorns to see what she’d get.

The visuals are rather flat, but the art style does work, giving everything a cartoony look that certainly fits the theme. Whilst horses look unique though, they’re all animated in the same way, so don’t expect a tour de force for the animation department. The spells look nice though, and are easy to pick out when things get busy so you can adjust and avoid if you spot them in time. The sound is fine, but nothing special. I quite liked the music, but you’ll hear it a lot as you play through the stages. There’s little in the way of sound effects beyond the occasional spell whoosh or victorious cheer when an attack finds its mark.

There’s certainly a decent amount of content here, with forty races, lots of cosmetics to unlock, and even a split-screen mode to tinker with. As I’ve said, this isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s a nice option as a first kart racer for kids, so it’s certainly more yea than neigh from me.

Wildshade: Unicorn Champions
Time to make some horse babies!

Wildshade: Unicorn Champions is available now on Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch.

You might also like
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.