A Very Bland, Uninspiring Kart Racer
Slow, lethargic and emotionless, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is not a very good racing game. Frustratingly, the game has potential but feels slapped together with little thought, hindered by questionable design choices and really dated mechanics. All of this is typified by a handful of kart racers and some uninspired tracks making it a really disappointing kart rather.
Most of the game follows the same standard structure as other kart racers and in particular, Mario Kart. The menu, accompanied by its poor quality audio, is broken up into Solo Play, Multiplayer and the Shop. Solo and Multiplayer is broken up into Grand Prix (a series of races where you gain points depending on where you finish) and free race. Most of these modes draw inspiration from Mario Kart, right down to the general layout and way the game plays.
The lack of variety with the racers is a bit disappointing
There are other game modes here too; a host of mini-games available in the multiplayer Battle Arena. These range from Tag to Capture The Flag but most follow the same conventional pattern and take place in an uninspiring circular arena.
You accelerate your kart with R2, brake and reverse with O while power ups collected in the levels can be activated with a tap of X. Mixing things up is the inclusion of slime which you can drive over to gain a speed boost, activated through pressing Triangle. It’s a simplistic control scheme and has the potential to be really fun but the lethargic pace and sluggish handling make the game more of a chore than it should be.
Driving over slime mixes things up by allowing for speed boosts
The tracks themselves are generally uninspired, drawing inspiration from some of the Nickelodeon racers featured but failing to really stand out as fun or interesting. Most of the tracks feature the same stock buildings and obstacles with slime puddles added to mix things up. While racing, running over treasure chests opens up the ability for different power ups, with most relying on the tried and tested formula of projectiles, speed boosts and shields to block attacks. There’s also coins you can collect while racing too, and these can be exchanged in the shop.
The shop itself features a whole range of upgrades but to collect everything requires a real dedication to the game and a lot of grinding. Thankfully, there’s no micro-transactions in sight but it’s unlikely you’ll stick around for the long term with this game to unlock everything.
The use of colour and the general visual design of the game is at times really bad
Graphically, the game looks ugly. Really ugly. The draw distance is small, the track layout bland and at times the colours are so jarring and discordant it makes racing round the tracks less fun than it should be. Even the menus look bad, falling back on the old school look of simple colours and a stock background image. This is made all the worse that the old Nicktoons Racing actually plays better than this game, and that game was poor.
Those expecting a whole host of characters from their beloved franchises will almost certainly be disappointed. Nickelodeon Kart Racer’s character list is poor, to say the least. There’s 12 different racers – 4 of which for the different Ninja Turtles. It’s actually pretty depressing too when you look at the list of Nickelodeon shows over the years and some of the characters they’ve missed out. These include Kim Possible, Catdog, Animaniacs, Doug, Fairly Odd Parents, Peppa Pig and even PAW Patrol. The one show that actually heavily features cars and racing. Even if these were unlocked along the way it would add to the allure of the game but if this is supposed to celebrate Nickelodeon’s contribution to cartoons over the years, it doesn’t do a very good job of it.
Handling and the control scheme is sluggish at best and handles really poorly
To top it all off, the achievements in the game don’t stack meaning you need to complete every single race in easy, medium and expert mode if you want to 100% Nickelodeon Kart Racers. This only further typifies the lack of polish and thought put into crafting this title.
While I appreciate this kart racer is designed for kids, the frustrating gameplay and sluggish control scheme make it far more troublesome to play than it should be. Even for kids (and I have two to test this with). Visually, the game looks ugly and the pitiful selection of characters really limits the replayability of the game. With friends, the overall appeal is improved somewhat but with so many other options out there, including Mario Kart itself, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a disappointing cash grab, one that doesn’t deserve the asking price of £24.99 and should be avoided.