Shady Lewd Kart, a game that has been available for a little under a year via the Steam Early Access programme, is part of a growing trend for games that take established retro gaming formulae and add a pleasing layer of lewd atop them.
Over the course of the last few years, some great games have come out of this trend. In the shoot ’em up space, we’ve had the various games in the Deep Space Waifu series, along with Waifu Uncovered — the latter of which even got a completely uncensored physical release for Nintendo Switch. In puzzle gaming, we’ve had the excellent Pengo-inspired Crawlco Block Knockers. And we can add kart racers to that list with Shady Lewd Kart.
As an Early Access title, Shady Lewd Kart obviously isn’t quite finished yet — but it’s most certainly in a very playable state, and shows great promise. So I thought it was high time we took a closer look at it… particularly as the game’s creator Shades generously provided me with a review copy months ago and I’ve somehow never gotten around to exploring it in detail until now.
Shady Lewd Kart is, as the name suggests, a kart-racing game that takes specific inspiration from the original PlayStation era. That means deliberately low-poly graphics with edges that could put your eye out, pixelated textures and limited use of lighting.
The PS1 look is one which is slowly starting to become fashionable as the platform slips ever further into the realm of “retro”; after several years of indie developers seeking to recreate the look and feel of 8- and 16-bit games it’s understandable that some creators would now want to turn their attention to the 32-bit era.
And the team behind Shady Lewd Kart knows what they’re doing; outside of the HD widescreen resolution and consistently slick framerate, this looks very authentically “PS1” in its appearance during races — and complements this retro look with some delightfully old-school sound effects that sound like they were sampled from an Atari Lynx.
Between races, meanwhile, the game makes full use of modern high-definition displays to show off some lovely (and filthy) artwork and animations from a variety of different contributors; Shady Lewd Kart was designed from the outset to be a highly collaborative project, so you’ll find a lot of guest appearances from familiar characters throughout the game — even including legendary lewd mascot Zone-tan from the thoroughly NSFW Zone-Archive, and a certain lewd VTuber you might have heard of named Projekt Melody.
There are several different ways you can play Shady Lewd Kart, with the main attraction in the current Early Access version being the fully voiced Story mode. Here, you pick one of the available playable characters and then a four-race cup to challenge. Each cup is associated with a particular “pit girl”, and as you progress through the races you’ll have the opportunity to impress said girl, both by saying the right things in the brief conversation scenes between races, and by collecting “date items” during races.
Inevitably, the date items are hidden in extremely awkward positions, meaning you’ll need to go very off-piste to find a lot of them, though their locations are helpfully indicated from afar by a huge pillar of light shooting into the sky from each of them. On top of that, some fairly aggressive rubber-banding in the player’s favour means that so long as you pursue the date items on the first (and perhaps, at a push, second) lap of each three-lap race, you can still make your way to the front of the pack and take the chequered flag.
As a kart racer, Shady Lewd Kart of course includes a variety of weapons with which you can mess with your opponents. Three colours of panties work as rough analogues to the shells and banana skins in the Mario Kart series, allowing you to either fire shots at opponents in front of you or leave slippery obstacles on the track behind you. Tubes of lube splatter your opponents’ vision with white sticky goo for a few moments, throwing their control off. Butt-plug bumpers drop a bouncy arrangement of sex toys behind you. “Protection” covers you in a lubricated latex bubble to keep you safe for a short period. And high-powered vibrators give you a speed boost.
Taking some cues from a few of the later Mario Kart games, Shady Lewd Kart also incorporates the ability to build up boost power through both powersliding and performing jump stunts. Boosts can be chained together to keep your speed up, and helpful audio cues make it very clear when you’re doing things correctly without requiring you to keep an eye on the interface.
Control-wise, Shady Lewd Kart is tight and responsive, though those accustomed to Mario Kart in particular may initially find the handling to feel a little floaty. Powerslides in particular are best initiated a lot later than you might typically do them in other kart racers, but once you get a feel for them they’re highly satisfying — as are the jump stunts, which require a carefully timed tap of the powerslide button just before you leave the ground on a jump.
Course design is excellent and highly varied, beginning with some fairly straightforward, flat speedway-style circuits and later moving on to complex tracks with tons of alternative routes, possible shortcuts and an impressive degree of verticality about them. Rare’s classic Diddy Kong Racing was doubtless an inspiration for some of the more open, exploratory track designs.
Your first few races with Shady Lewd Kart will doubtless feel somewhat chaotic, particularly if you decide to go straight for the date items. It’s not at all unusual to go from first to last and back to first again over the course of a single lap; while the rubber-banding does mean that you can pretty much always catch up with the pack regardless of how far behind you end up being, once you’re in the middle of the action the other racers are seriously aggressive, and you’ll need to make assertive use of the boost mechanics and the weapon items to stay in front.
Thankfully, Shady Lewd Kart eschews some of kart racers’ more controversial additions from over the years; there’s no “blue shell” equivalent, for example. The most dangerous weapon is probably the “Panty Shower”, which causes a rain of exploding panties to fall from the sky for several seconds — and whoever sets one of these off is just as likely to hit themselves as they are their opponents!
The currently available events in the game also feature one-on-one “boss” races against special characters — including a pleasing homage to PlayStation classic Twisted Metal — and these provide one of several ways you can unlock additional drivers. You can also max out the pit girls’ affection bars to unlock them as playable racers (as well as seeing some thoroughly filthy lewds along the way) or purchase new racers from the in-game store using the coins you pick up during races.
Pleasingly, each playable racer has their own intro and ending sequence in the Story mode, providing plenty of replay value. This is good, because you’ll likely need to play through each Story cup several times to max out those affection bars — and you’ll need to play more of the game in general if you want to unlock the massive amount of bonus goodies that are already in the game.
Rather delightfully, the gallery page that holds all the game’s lewd and event images allows you to either browse through your entire collection or filter by subject matter — whether that’s something as relatively broad as yuri, yaoi, tentacle or furry content, or something as specific as seeing a particular character’s images all collected together. This is a game that takes the “Lewd” part of its title as seriously as the “Kart” part.
All in all, Shady Lewd Kart appears to have been developed by a team who have great fondness for two things: classic video games, and saucy adult content. There’s even a track that plays homage to Sierra’s legendary Leisure Suit Larry series, some of the earliest lewd games we ever got to experience here in the west.
It’s a project that has clearly been developed with great love and passion — and while it’s been in Early Access for quite some time as this article goes to press, it’s obvious that Shady Lewd Kart is continually growing, changing and improving over time. There are still a few rough edges here and there — most notably with regard to some aspects of the game script, which could use a good proofread, and some slightly clunky controller support — but smoothing out those kinks (no pun intended) is what Early Access is all about.
Anyone with a fondness for both PS1-era kart racers and sex (that’ll cover most of you reading this, then) should definitely keep an eye on this one, as the final product has the potential to be something rather great. In the meantime, it’s a project definitely worth your support — which you can do so either by grabbing a copy of the game from Steam, or supporting its development directly via Patreon.
Thanks to Shades for the relewd… err, review copy.
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