Thanks to GameMill for the review code
Title: Nickelodeon Kart Racers
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10/23/2018
For a game based on a company with some of the most colorful cartoons on American television, the game’s overall presentation comes off as incredibly dull. The art style this game goes with is a strange plastic look that appears to have been done in order to make the characters all look consistent with one another, but it does so at the expense of making some characters like Tommy and Reptar look downright freaky compared to their cartoon counterparts.
The look of the stages themselves are pretty middling as well. Lots of samey looking pathways and walls, and most of the stages barely have anything to do with the cartoons themselves save for the names of some of the tracks. Despite growing up with Spongebob and Rugrats, I could barely recognize any of the tracks included in this game, as they seemed to just be thrown in and designed haphazardly.
Easily the worst part of the presentation comes from the audio, which is just terrible. Ironically, this is not because of repetitive and irritating voice clips for the characters that loop on end, simply because there are no voice clips. Not one single voice sample for any character in the game, which is just bewildering considering how iconic characters such as Spongebob and Patrick are known for their voices, yet they’ll be totally mute in the game. No, instead the awful audio comes from the atrocious music, which consists of some of the most generic and grating compositions that I’ve ever heard. Why this game couldn’t get enough of a budget to include a few voice clips of each character in the game bewilders me, and that just makes this whole ordeal come off as low effort.
For a game that’s meant to feature several Nickelodeon franchises all in one place, it doesn’t make a good first impression at all. You have a puny roster consisting of three Spongebob characters, Three Rugrats characters, two Hey Arnold characters, and finally, all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (who aren’t even technically Nicktoons, but their new shows have aired on the Nick network. By that logic, the Ninja Steel Power Rangers should be a great candidate for a sequel) That’s all you get from the roster, and there’s nobody else to unlock.
You can unlock kart parts to “upgrade” your car, either through playing a bonus game or by spending coins to purchase new kart pieces, but you can only seem to equip these in the main single player modes, so don’t expect to take these into the game’s battle mode and fix the atrocious handling that your karts have, which yes, is a major problem from the offset.
The karts all auto accelerate, so the main control comes from using items, (which are typical knock-offs of Mario Kart powers, as to be expected) using your slime gauge to gain more speed with a boost, and by steering and drifting accordingly. The control scheme is incredibly simple, so I can at least give this game props for including beginner-friendly controls, but when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe exists on the same system and implemented better features to be beginner friendly, this isn’t something I can praise as much.
The game has a lacking amount of content, as well. While it does have over a dozen tracks, none of them are engaging in the slightest, and the overall racing is sleep-inducing when going solo. You’re just better off playing these tracks in Time Trials instead of facing off against CPUs, since the CPUs aren’t really that enjoyable to race against whether they’re dumber than rocks or slightly competent enough to rubber band.
Overall, outside of unlocking the remaining cups, the only other thing you can really do in the game is the local multiplayer, which just consists of you and a friend racing in a cup or individual race courses ala the single player. A friend and I gave this a spin, and we found that racing against each other on the courses was only marginally better than doing it solo, but the main fun of the game came from the multiplayer battle mode. Aping Mario Kart once again, Battle Mode consists of you going after a flag and keeping it away from the other player, or hitting the other players enough time to score enough points before time runs out. It’s still pretty lame in comparison to what its cloning though, and the lack of online multiplayer makes this game even lighter on content.
In conclusion, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a shameless clone of Mario Kart that doesn’t even succeed in being a more easygoing, nostalgia fueled kart racer. The Nickelodeon license is barely utilized, the controls and handling are atrocious, and the overall game is lacking in variety and engagement. Unfortunately, while I had hopes this could have been a decent game for Nicktoons fans such as myself, this instead felt like a strange, half-assed attempt at a racer with a puny roster made for a quick buck. Unfortunately, the trend of bad licensed games continues with this racer, when it could have been so much more.
I give Nickelodeon Kart Racers a 3 out of 10.