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Video Game / ModNation Racers

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And this isn't even half the stuff you can make.

In a brief pitch, the equation tends to be Mario Kart + LittleBigPlanet, a Mascot Racer game that takes the realistic yet fun driving system and doubling it up with the ability to create tracks, Mods (the Drivers) and Karts, each and every one of those goes more in depth than TrackMania even, and adds so much to the driving aspect to hold up on its own.

This game was announced at E3 2009 and released on May 21st, 2010 in Europe and May 25th in the United States for both the Playstation Portable and Playstation 3. Later, a PlayStation Vita sequel subtitled Road Trip was released in early 2012, which is missing the career mode cutscenes and online from the original game. As with many classic PlayStation 3 titles, the servers were eventually shut down on October 10th, 2018, bringing the game's much vaunted online features to an end.


The game features examples of these tropes:

  • Advertised Extra: The mod standing directly behind the company logo on the cover is set up as a major character, but is nothing more than a minor CPU opponent with no story relevance in-game. Espresso (who appears in the background flying behind Tag) is the real Final Boss of the game.
  • Agony of the Feet: One pre-race cutscene has a Mod drive over another Mod's foot while getting into position. The affected Mod then jumps around in pain.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jez's entire shtick. White and pastel color scheme, snooty or Valley Girl-like affectations and says she became a racer because "daddy hates it."
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Due to the robust creation system, Mods can have a variety of skin colors. Even the more humanoid-looking Mods can be yellow (Tag, Espresso), pink (Jez, Tag's Mother), blue (Chief, Biff Tradwell) and everything else in-between.
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  • Ascended Glitch: There's a glitch that when activated randomizes the rotation of some props, making them rotated on all three angles instead of the normal single rotation angle on the PS3 version. The PS Vita version made three axis props rotations a creation mechanic because they saw how many tracks used it.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: This Playstation Blog post reveals that Biff and Gary carpool to and from work.
  • Brick Joke: At the end of Chief's big wreck, we see him getting hosed down with fire suppression foam by an emergency team. After Chief decks Espresso so hard he goes rolling off that same corner of the track 25 years later, that same team shows up and sprays Espresso with the same foam. Despite not being in a kart.
  • Burning Rubber: Drifting long enough results in a trail of fire streaming from your kart's tires.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gary Raisins Reasons. He is constantly being made fun of by Biff Tradwell.
  • Canon Name: While the mods themselves can be named anything, the mod used in career mode will always be referred to as Tag.
  • Car Fu: In addition to the powerups, you can sideswipe other cars, or even do a stomping attack in the PSP game, provided your boost bar isn't empty (except in Road Trip, where the sideswipe is free to use).
  • Climactic Volcano Backdrop: Mt. Pain has a Mega Jump launch racers above a volcano. In the PSP version, there is lava pouring from the volcano, which is not present in the PS3 game.
  • Comeback Mechanic: The PS3 game and Road Trip game both block first place racers from obtaining the Jumpstart boost powerup unless they lose their first place position.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Most Mods out there, including the commentators, watch the MRC to marvel at just how violent the races can get. Best emphasized when Biff completely abandons his commentator duties to giddily watch Chiefs big crash over and over.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: The Modobahn track takes place in a freeway still under construction.
  • Cool Car: Quite a few kart body types, from various "normal" cars to cardboard boxes, trains, and even an airplane, colored and decorated however you want.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Uncle Richard. He installs a bomb on Tag's kart which knocks out Chief in order to get Tag to sign a contract so he can extract more money from the races, which causes him to be arrested at the end of the story.
  • Cynical Mentor: The Crew Chief acts as Tag's pit radio speaker. He comments on how well Tag is racing during races, commenting on his drifting skills, when he ruins a previously clean lap, and when he has a full boost meter. He also complains when Tag goes off the track. In the PSP game, he will complain about Tag going off the track when he's simply being launched by a Mega Jump that is launching him to the next part of the track.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Most of the elite racers in career mode become playable and their parts unlocked after beating their "Grudge Matches".
  • Denser and Wackier: A subtle example with the background racers in each tour: while the rosters for each of the first three tours consist of realistic racers with helmets and simplistic racing suits, the roster of the Grim Tour consists of odd characters like a gargoyle, a boy in bear pyjamas, a giant ant and a cat princess from space.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tag's father gets mentioned during a Darkest Hour scene when Tag's feeling depressed from being forced to sell out to CM, but the reason for his absence never does. Evidently, he could tell early on that Tag was destined to be a racer.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Cars can drive up walls and over the backs of dump trucks. Sideswiping other racers is also common practice.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": No one ever refers to our three heroes as anything but Tag, Chief and Mother.
  • Exploding Barrels: Barrels are launched by certain types of props, and when they collide with something they explode.
  • Fantastic Racism: Towards the final boss in one cutscene, who is Italian:
    Tag: (offers to hug Chief after he starts to cry about bad memories)
    Chief: This is a RACETRACK! What are you doing?! Never hug me. Hugging's for Girl scouts, Hippies, and ITALIANS!
  • Funny Background Event: Before the race starts, racers can be seen doing all manner of gags at their wheel. In addition to that, there are many, many gags in the form of the news that moves across the top of the screen. There is a large pool from which they are picked, many of which are unique to career races alone.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The game's career mode explains that the Boom Box Weapons System is what allows karts to fire weapons. In the PSP game, after Richard plants a bomb on Tag's kart that explodes and destroys his Boom Box, he is still able to fire weapons, which is inconsistent with the story's explanation that the Boom Box is required to fire weapons.
    • In the PSP game, Tag is able to show up as a random offline racer in normal race modes if you don't play as him despite the career mode stating that custom Mod racers are just outfits for Tag, which can be seen as a conflict between the story and the gameplay.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The tokens, used to buy accessories for the various editor modes. There are five on each track, meaning a total of 140 tokens, or 225 with all DLC.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Alpine track theme is a large, grassy area with a mountainous background and pine trees.
  • Guest Fighter: Mods of Sackboy, Kratos, Nathan Drake and Ratchet & Clank are available as DLC.
  • Heroic Mime: While he does have a voice in races, Tag doesn't speak during the story cutscenes. Justified as it's to work around the fact that Tag could just as well be anything, with any voice, including no voice at all.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Chief's confession to Tag that it was Espresso who caused his trauma inducing crash 25 years ago.
  • Jerkass: Biff Tradwell, especially to Gary, who appears to have gotten used to it.
    Biff: Quick question before the race, Gary, if two's company and three's a crowd, what's one?
    Gary: Umm...the number of people at my birthday party?
    Biff: Booyah!
  • Jungle Japes: The Jungle track theme takes place in a jungle full of temples and vegetation.
  • Kill It with Fire: The PS Vita version adds fire to the power ups you can acquire, and what happens when you reach Level 3? You fire a gigantic Phoenix of course.
  • Level Editor: The game takes the LittleBigPlanet approach by making the advanced Track Studio the big selling point of the game, but there is also a very, very in-depth Mod and Kart Studio in comparison to similar features in other games. In fact, the default tracks on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game are created using Track Studio.
  • Lightning Gun:
    • The bolt powerup allows your kart to fire lightning bolts. It starts off as a basic forwards shot, but upgrades twice: first to a homing bolt, then again to a missile that flies into the sky and strikes every opponent on the track.
    • Karts can also spend some boost to fire a bolt of electricity. However, unlike the bolt powerup, this move deals no damage whatsoever and is used exclusively to activate special switches and change the modbots' behaviour.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: A fairly common gripe. 45 second loads, anyone? They're worse in the PS Vita version than in the PlayStation 3 version, despite being on cartridge or memory card and not a Blu-ray disc and hard drive. The PSP version has short load times compared to the other versions, but the engine is not the same as the other two versions.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The level 3 missile powerup in the PS3 and PS Vita game, the Hydra, does this launching 11 missiles that home in to higher placing racers. The PSP game has an equivalent, but only fires five missiles which only home in to targets that it comes close to.
  • Made of Iron: Chief, who survived his rather catastrophic wreck 25 years ago with little more than a bit of emotional trauma. Comes in handy when a bomb goes off in his face, a massive tool bin, several wheels and an industrial car lift fall on him. Despite being rendered catatonic, he's physically no worse for wear.
  • Mighty Glacier: A mod with high speed is incredibly fast, but takes a while to get to their top speed since their acceleration takes a major hit.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Hydra, the level three variant of the rocket power-up, a Macross Missile Massacre that will relentlessly lock on to every driver in front of its user, and it will have enough missiles for each and every single one of them.
  • Necessary Drawback: The stat customization mechanic works by making speed mutually-exclusive with acceleration, and handling mutually-exclusive with drifting. Higher speed means slower acceleration, better drifting means worse regular steering, and vice-versa if the opposite options are chosen.
  • Nitro Boost: It is possible to run over two types of boost pads, one of them launch you in its direction. You can also pick up a "Jumpstart" item which can be upgraded into the "Supercharger" and both act as speed boosting items. In addition, it is possible to obtain "Boost Points" which can be used to get a speed boost or perform other actions such as sideswiping or activating a shield, or in the PSP version, stomp and attack enemies nearby.
  • Nintendo Hard: While the CPU isn't terribly fiendish, although it does get quite challenging at times, some of the bonus missions in the PlayStation 3 version fall under this. In fact, some objectives were changed in an update to the game to make them less challenging.
  • Noodle Incident: Biff and Gary offhandedly mention several incidents they've had off-screen during the tutorials, such as Gary owning a butterfly collection as a kid, suffering hallucinations from cough medicine and turning a sickly shade of green while racing with Biff.
  • Off-Model: Tag's kart is blue on the box art, but yellow in-game.
  • Palmtree Panic: The Seaside track theme takes place on a sandy seaside area, complete with palm trees and the sea.
  • Playable Menu: The Modspot allows you to drive around at your own leisure. From there, you can access the career and online modes, download popular Mods and karts, enter the creation station, interact with other players, check out DLC, and adjust the options.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Wildcard, a famously tricky racer, dons a red, black, and white color scheme and decorates his car to playing cards.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: While not as blatant as some racing games (at least to start with), it's definitely present.
  • Rule of Fun: Comes up time and time again. For example, the power-ups are indeed implemented for this rule. In particular, thankfully, to avoid the blue shell effect, you are able to use boost gained from certain activities to generate a temporary shield. A welcome addition.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Several of Chief's lines if the player gets into second place have him outright admit he doesn't believe it's a good position.
    There are winners... and then there's second.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: As a means of resetting on the track if a problem occurs, karts can spontaneously explode at will. This costs you your boost meter or your weapon depending on the game though.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Desert track theme takes place on a sandy desert.
  • Ship Tease: Tag and Jez get plenty of UST during the Grand Tour, with the two constantly pranking and messing with each other during the pre-race interactions. Notably, they're the only two characters to directly interact with each other during said tour.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skyscraper City: The DLC Metropolis track theme takes place in a sprawling metropolitan city with lots of tall buildings.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The DLC Arctic track theme takes place in a snowy area with igloos and penguins.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: In addition to the rocket powerups, and karts self-destructing at will or exploding due to being crushed by a Devastator or running into objects while in mid air, there's also the elite racers Nato and Drillbit. While Nato seems to just really like explosives, Drillbit appears to have the ability to blow things up with his mind, as shown by his pre-race intro.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Determining the gender of a mod is solely up to the clothes, accessories and voice applied to it.
  • This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: Biff Tradwell's response to Tag picking his nose waiting at the starting line in Rumble Jungle. Jez looks on in a similar disgust.
  • Unlockable Content: While the game provides plenty of creative tools to start, each race has some bonus pieces for completing the objectives, plus bonus pieces available in a roulette thanks to tokens.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Color and add accessories to your Mod to make them look like they're wearing almost anything, though you can't change the basic body shape. It helps that a blank Mod looks like a vinyl figurine. You can also make your mod look more like a Virtual Metal, Cloth, or Rubber Doll.
  • Wutai: The DLC Far East track theme takes place in China and features elements like temples and bamboo.