MicroSumo Machines: KarBoom

A car, and a boom. HAPPY NOW?

We last (and indeed first) posted about Micromachines-meets-Sumo-wrestling-meets-foot-to-ball car combat arena game KarBoom back in 2011, and it’s only just reached release status. My initial belief that it had taken all that time simply to add yellow-coloured cars into the game proved unfounded – in fact it’s because KarBoom has seen three different engines during its development. Game engines, not car engines, you understand. It’s now sitting pretty in indie fave Unity, and is available to purchase for real Earth monies right now. It also has a demo, like all games should.

Demo-wise you’ve got the option of a download or running it in your browser, like so. Basically, you are a car, and other people or some not especially sharp AI are also cars. You try and ram into each other, either gently or with a potentially suicidal charged shot, in the hope of pushing foes outside the arena, thus docking them a point. Like I say, it’s Sumo with Micro Machines.

Sadly the game is local multiplayer only, which means you can have up to eight people trying to fit around a keyboard and as many gamepads as you can plug into your PC. Classic party game fare indeed, but I fear the lack of online play is going to hurt KarBoom. Looks like a giggle though, and just as soon as I can teach a cat, a baby and a Soundwave action figure how to use a keyboard, I’ll be giving the multiplayer a go.

Here’s what it looks like if you can’t’/won’t try the demo.

The game’s out now, direct from Australian dev Jibb Smart or download services including Desura and Shinyloot, and costs $10 for PC, Mac or Linux flavours. I’m really sorry for not making snarky gags about Mac and Linux in this post, I’ve been awake since 4am and I want to die.


  1. Nevard says:

    I tried playing the demo and couldn’t figure out how not to explode

    • Zankmam says:

      Don’t hold boost for too long and stay in the designated areas – if you get out of the “arena”/play area, you will explode in a matter of seconds.

      • Nevard says:

        I swear I just blew up sometimes with no buttons held while within the “safe circle” but I guess I might just have been touching a boundary or something

        • Jibb Smart says:

          There are a few reasons you might explode:
          1. Overcharging boost was already touched on. But if you’re playing with someone else on the keyboard, it’s worth noting that both left and right shift are the arrow-key-player’s boost – the second player might be pressing left-shift and blowing you up.
          2. Out of bounds, to be clear, is anywhere with grass. If you were trying Gamble in the demo, the middle green patch is also out of bounds. It’s an allergy thing.
          3. Weak spot – if you have that mutator turned on, you can explode if you’re hit from behind by a non-team-mate.
          4. Life limit – if you’re playing life limit with the flag, you’ll lose a life every second or so (depending on the size of the kar holding the flag). If your lives get to zero, you’ll explode.
          5. If you’re upside down or on your side, you’ll heat up and explode. Tapping boost is the best way to get out of this situation if you still have some boost juice.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Context be damned, all numbered lists should begin with that sub-clause.

  2. PopeRatzo says:

    Top down games give me vertigo.

  3. Niko says:

    Well, those tiny cars look quite cute.

  4. Zankmam says:

    As fun as this game is, as a consumer, I have no incentive to buy it – at all.

    I mean:

    1. Unfortunately, I doubt that any of my friends would play this in Local Co-Op with me.
    2. It has no real Single-player “campaign” or something.
    3. It has no Online modes.

    Out of the three, I think that No. 3 – the lack of Online mutlplayer capability – is what really “kills” this game for me.

    Again, no reason to purchase.

    Oh well, at least I can have a bit of fun with the Demo.

    • Jibb Smart says:

      Hi, I’m Jibb Smart and I made the game.

      Old prototypes did have online modes, but there were all sorts of problems with it. There’s a detailed account of the implementations and issues in this discussion here, but the short version is that slight differences in a collision according to two different clients result in very different outcomes.

      While online is something I’d like to explore again in future, for now the best I can do is try and make PC gamers with gamepads aware that this is actually a really fun way to play with your real-life friends.

      So in short: I can totally understand :) In its current state KarBOOM is best suited to a fairly narrow niche, but if you’re equipped to play it that way it is a lot of fun!

  5. SuicideKing says:

    That was a fun video to watch, mainly because of their reactions. Made me want to play a local PvP game.

  6. Prads says:

    I think the price of $10 for this game is too high and would suggest you to reconsider it. Think about it, game like Binding of Isaac cost only $4.99 which is arguably one of the best indie game in steam and offers hours of gameplay. Not saying your game is bad or anything like that (actually I have played the demo before and I think it’s a really fun and interesting game) but I hesitate to pay $10 for this game because it doesn’t have single player mode or online multiplayer (I have read your post in steam about online multiplayer and I hope you will be able to figure it out in the future).
    Best of luck!

    • Jibb Smart says:

      I know people who have spent and continue to spend hours just playing KarBOOM’s demo – its lifespan depends on the people you’d play KarBOOM with, and the time it takes to really grow your skills in its different game modes. I can totally understand, though, if your setup or situation makes you hesitant to put $10 down for this game.

      For now I’m not going to change the price permanently, but we’re getting to that time of year where sales are pretty common, and it’d be negligent of me not to have KarBOOM be a part of that :)

      Also, while I can’t spend as much time on KarBOOM now as I did in the last few weeks of crunch before release, I am working on content and improvements to the game.