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“This interactive racer was a breakout hit in American arcades when it was released in 1997. Ten sweet-styled racers drive their confectionery karts around a taffy track that weaves through the ever-changing environments of the island.”
Sugar Rush (also known as Sugar Rush Speedway in the browser-based version) is one of the arcade games of Litwak's Arcade, featured in Disney's 2012 animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralphand its 2018sequel. It is a Japanese kart-racing game set in a fantastical kingdom made entirely of sweets, candies, and confections of the like. The game features a number of unique racers with personalized karts as playable characters.
According to its cabinet, Sugar Rush was developed by the fictional company TobiKomi, and was plugged into the arcade in 1997. It is based on popular kart racing titles such as the Super Mario Kart series. Sometime later, TobiKomi became defunct, causing replacement parts to be largely unavailable and expensive due to their rarity. The Sugar Rush as seen in Litwak's was originally a twin console game, but by the events of Ralph Breaks the Internet, one of the consoles was removed.
Shortly after the game was plugged in—and before it was first played by gamers—Sugar Rush was hijacked by a rogue character named Turbo, from the game TurboTime. By reprogramming the game's codes, Turbo dethroned Princess Vanellope von Schweetz and made himself sovereign under his new identity: King Candy. The villainous King Candy would remain in power for fifteen years until he was finally defeated by the combined efforts of Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph. Vanellope then reclaimed her sovereign status, as "President Vanellope von Schweetz".
Six years after King Candy's death, the steering wheel controller for Sugar Rush breaks as a result of Ralph attempting to modify the game for Vanellope, who had grown bored and restless due to the lack of challenge, rendering it unplayable. Although a replacement steering wheel is available on eBay, the cost of the part far outweighs the income the game itself provides, making the purchase unfeasible. Litwak is then forced to unplug it, leaving its inhabitants homeless. The racers are soon adopted by Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun, while Vanellope stays with Ralph, and Sour Bill is taken in by Gene. After Ralph makes enough money through Buzzztube to pay for the steering wheel on eBay, Sugar Rush was saved. Vanellope, however, does not return to Sugar Rush due to having decided to remain in Slaughter Race.
Players select one of the Sugar Rushracers, who are rotated nightly through the Random Roster race and attempt to win a race on various racetracks located throughout the candy-filled kingdom. Like other racing games, such as Super Mario Kart, the players can pick up various power-ups that are based on sweets, examples include the Ice Cream Cannon and Sweet Seekers. Other dangers to avoid include various environmental dangers such as giant gumballs, diet cola lava, and ignitable Cherry Bombs.
Places of Interest
Sugar Rush Castle: Home of the infamous King Candy and his majordomo, Sour Bill. After Vanellope is revealed to be the true ruler of Sugar Rush, she takes up residence within the castle until leaving for Slaughter Race.
Candy Cane Forest: As the name implies, a forest full of red-and-white striped peppermint trees. It is a favorite hangout spot for Vanellope. It has Laffy Taffy vines, a taffy swamp, and a Nesquik-sand pit. Double-striped canes disappear when touched.
Diet Cola Mountain: An active volcano with the shape of a soda bottle that served as Vanellope's hideout during King Candy's reign. The stalactites inside are made of Mentos.
Sugar Rush Speedway: A scenic race track that traverses all the environments which make up Sugar Rush.
Kart Factory: The place where all the racers' karts are made. Vanellope and Ralph break into the factory to create a kart for Vanellope. The factory serves as a minigame within the game, where the player has to make their own kart in one minute. The mini-game consists of three parts:
Mixing: The player sorts ingredients, dumping the right items into the bowl, while separating the bad ingredients (such as underwear and a fire hydrant) into a trash can.
Baking: The player uses an air pump to heat a large oven to the correct temperature.
Decorating: The player uses a gun to hit targets on decoration dispensers, adding the items to design a personal kart.
Junkyard: Where destroyed, worn-out, and scrapped karts are stored.
Some elements of the Mario Kart games are spoofed here: the power-ups are contained in sugar cubes, the marshmallow holding the stoplight is based on Lakitu, the Sweet Seekers parody the Koopa shells, the final stretch is based on Rainbow Road (the final racetrack in every installment of that franchise), etc.
However, when King Candy first meets Wreck-It-Ralph, he orders Wynnchel and Duncan to send Ralph away "on the first train back home".
The Disney DSF shows five pins of the Sugar Rush train which involves Vanellope in the locomotive, Taffyta in the tender car, Minty and Snowanna in the dining car, a baggage car (which is likely including Gloyd, Candlehead and Rancis), and King Candy in a caboose.
Not counting King Candy—Rancis, Gloyd and Swizz are the only three male racer characters in the game in an otherwise mostly female cast.
The CPU room's door is a classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller, which can only be opened using the "Konami Code" - Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.
After noting the price of a replacement steering wheel on eBay, Litwak mentions the price, $200 USD, is more than Sugar Rush makes in an entire year, implying the game is not frequently played by 2018.
The go-kart selection icons in the kart factory display pictures of go-karts that did not make it into the final film.
Both Fix-it Felix Jr. and Sugar Rush appear to be made by TobiKomi, a fictional game company that means "to jump" or "to dive" in Japanese.
The sign leading to the portal between Sugar Rush and Game Central Station during the Cy-Bug attack scene reads "Parting is such sweet sorrow...", a reference to Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.
To create the scene where Vanellope and Ralph create a kart, the animation crew visited the Ford manufacturing plant in Detroit, Michigan to watch the entire assembly of Ford trucks for inspiration.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was intended to be a character for Sugar Rush, however, he was ultimately scrapped for unknown reasons.
As part of Disney's marketing of the film, a version of the game can be played on their website.
An official mock "trailer" for this game was uploaded to YouTube by Disney, stating the game's release date as 1997.
Although there is an online and iOS version of Sugar Rush, there has yet to be an exact replica of the actual game cabinet from the film in real life. While a display cabinet was produced for Ralph Breaks the Internet, it is a non-playable version with a purposely broken steering wheel and existed as more of a photo opportunity.
The online version runs on the Unity Web Player plugin, while the iOS version is a sub-game in the Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe app. The Sugar Rush game available in the multi-game app is not a racing game at all, but a platforming mini-game called Sweet Climber, wherein Ralph must bounce his way up a candy cane tree. Another game with a similar basis on the tree-climbing scene is available online, called Candy Cane Catapult.