First, a general announcement. I've been trying to post reviews at the rate of one per day. Now, obviously, I don't actually finish one Kongregate game per day; rather, since I started playing Kongregate before I started writing these, I had a buffer to start with. Now, however, I've caught up, so I'll start writing a review when I finish a game. The advantage is that I can write the reviews quicker, since the game will still be fresh in my mind and I won't have to go back and replay it. The downside is, of course, that I won't be posting these every day. Anyway, on to today's review.
Sandstorm Racing is, as you might be able to guess from the name, a racing game. As you might also be able to guess from the name, you're racing on sand, which means you'll be drifting like crazy. If you're already familiar with racing games which require a lot of drifting, then you'll be in good shape, but if not, you'll probably have a bit of an adjustment period. Sandstorm Racing is no Gran Turismo, though, so even if you're totally unfamiliar with the concept you should be able to win races in very little time. After all, the controls are only the four arrow keys, so that should give you an idea of how simple the game is.
The game features eight courses (plus one tutorial course), and you can play a given race (once it's been unlocked) as much as you want. In each race, you'll race usually two laps against five computer opponents. You get credits based on your finish, and finishing first or second (or possibly third? I don't think I ever finished exactly third) will unlock the next course. Credits can be used to upgrade your car, although it's not a matter of buying specific parts -- you just pay a number of credits and your car gets better, and that's that. Unfortunately, if you win a race on your first try, you won't get enough credits to upgrade your car, so you'll probably get slaughtered if you try the next race, so you'll have to repeat the race to get more credits.
The one particularly frustrating thing about the game is that, while there is a path marked, you don't have to stay on the path. Indeed, cutting corners is a very important strategy for victory. However, it's not really clear just how far you can stray from the path before your progress no longer registers, and even if you do reach this point, it's possible to go a long, long way before you get reset and put back on the track where you left. This can be very annoying -- you can be sailing along and doing great, and then just drift off the path a little bit, and by the time you've recovered, you're suddenly behind everyone.
The graphics are pretty simple, and there's no music (except during the level select screen, where it's exceedingly annoying very quickly), only the screech of tires and the occasional bump when a couple of cars collide. Overall, this is a cute little game, and it's definitely fast-paced enough that you won't have to spend a lot of time to completely beat it, but it just lacks the depth to make it interesting enough so that you'd want to come back to it after finishing.