In lieu of a manual or a wiki dedicated to KarBOOM, this "How to" should get you started quickly.
To set up a game, click play offline in the main menu. The menu can be navigated with a mouse or, if you already have a gamepad plugged in when you start the game, the mouse can be controlled with the left-analog stick on the first controller, and clicked with button 1 ("A" if you use an XBox 360 controller).
Here you are given five menus. The first, victory conditions, lets you choose how it is determined that a round has finished. By default it is "no limit", but by clicking on that button you can cycle through "time limit", "score limit", and "life limit" as well. The slider below those options lets you choose how many seconds a round is, what score a player must reach to win, or how many lives each player begins a round with. Note that knocking another player out earns 10 points, so the default score limit of 50 is only 5 knockouts.
The next menu is mutators, letting you choose what mutators are enabled. Only enable SAPOI -- that is, rock-paper-scissors -- if you have 3 or more players. If you have less players, each car will still have a marker around them to indicate that sapoi is enabled, but it'll have no target. With TAG enabled, the first player to be knocked out is "it", and it's their job to try and tag other players instead! Everyone who's not it has their score increasing twice every second, or in life-limit mode the "it" car loses a life every two seconds. So if you're "it", bump someone else as fast as you can. WEAK SPOT lets you blow up other cars simply by bumping into the glowing-red weak spot on their behind. BOOST adds the ability for cars to boost at the press of a button, and is extremely popular. THIEF lets you steal other player's lives or points by knocking them out, and HOLD THE FLAG adds a flag for cars to fight over -- the one with the flag gains points over time in most modes, or causes everyone else to lose lives over time in life-limit mode. Finally, KING OF THE HILL is the newest mutator to KarBOOM. The "hill" is designated by a bright ring, and cars are either rewarded for spending time in the hill or punished for being out of it, depending on if you're playing a score-based game or life-limit.
The players menu lets you add keyboard or gamepad players. Drag and drop the icon of the car you wish to use to the slot with the controls you wish to use. Each player is set up in the same way. Make sure to plug in your gamepads before starting the game, or the won't be detected. More about controlling the cars later.
The bots menu is very simple, and lets you determine how many bots will participate in the game by pressing the left and right arrows.
The levels menu lets you choose what type of arena you play in. The level is shown in the background -- more levels and a level editor are planned for future updates. Your choice of level, victory conditions, mutators, and bots is saved when you leave the game and will be the default options the next time you play.
Finally, clicking start will load the cars and start the game, provided there are enough players and/or bots for a game.
When the game starts, each player's score or lives is shown at the bottom. Each icon's colour matches one of the players, and each icon indicates what type of player that is: four squares indicate a keyboard player, a gamepad indicates a gamepad player, and the lightning bolt in a box indicates a bot. In the options menu (which you can access by pausing or returning to the main menu) you can enabled "local player labels", which will indicate which keyboard controls and gamepads are controlling which cars.
Each car can accelerate, reverse, steer and handbrake. For XBox 360 Gamepad players, steering is done with the left analog stick. Accelerate with "A" or the right trigger, brake/reverse with "X" or the left trigger. Handbrake by pressing "X" and "A" together, or pressing "B". With the BOOST mutator enabled, boost using the "Y" button.
For the first keyboard player, up and down accelerate and brake/reverse, respectively. Left and right steer in those directions relative to the car. Handbrake by pressing up and down at the same time. With the BOOST mutator activated, boost forward with either CTRL key. The other keyboard players' controls are in the same shape as the cursor keys, and work accordingly, with their "shoulder keys" (such as Q and E for the WSAD player) acting as boost buttons.
Tap the handbrake while turning to drift. This allows for much tighter turns, but while drifting your car will be more easily knocked out, since its grip is reduced. A collision will often result in a burnout as your car's wheels continue to spin while your car is knocked back. Release your accelerator to let the wheels adjust to the speed of the ground below them so you can quickly get your grip again and avoid opportunistic opponents. If BOOST is on, use it to quickly get back into the ring before blowing up. If your aim is good, it can be helpful for knocking out other players. You can only BOOST if you have enough fuel -- your fuel gauge is visible below your score. Each boost will use more than half a fuel tank, but your fuel automatically refills itself quickly. If your fuel gauge is green/blue, you can BOOST; if it's orange/red, you need to wait a little longer.