A Very Bland, Uninspiring Kart Racer
Slow, lethargic and emotionless, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is one of the worst games I’ve played in some time. It’s frustrating too because this racer has potential but the thoughtless manner this one’s been slapped together makes it a difficult one to recommend to anyone. It’s a game that’s plagued by questionable design choices throughout and sputters forward with dated mechanics that pale in comparison to PS2 titles.
Most of Nickelodeon Kart Racers follows the same standard structure other kart racers do. The menu, accompanied by its poor quality audio, is broken up into Solo Play, Multiplayer and the Shop. Solo and Multiplayer is then divided up further into Grand Prix (a series of races where you gain points depending on where you finish) and free race. Most of these modes copy the same standard structure as Mario Kart, right down to the general design of the UI and game mechanics.
The lack of variety with the racers is a bit disappointing
There are other game modes here too, including 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 gameplay pattern and take place in an uninspiring, graphically bland 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 when enough has been collected, activated through pressing Triangle. It’s a simple enough set of controls and has the potential to be really fun but the lethargic pace and sluggish handling throughout make the game make this more of a chore to play through than it should.
Driving over slime mixes things up by allowing for speed boosts
The tracks themselves are generally uninspiring, despite an attempt to draw inspiration and tailor these to the various Nickelodeon racers featured in the game. None of them really stand out as fun or interesting to drive through and most of the tracks feature the same stock buildings and obstacles that only add to that slapped-together feel the game radiates. Even the different power ups feel uninspired, relying on the tried and tested formula of projectiles, speed boosts and shields to block attacks we’ve seen so many times in other games.
The shop does feature a whole range of upgrades available but to collect everything requires a real dedication to the game and a lot of grinding that I doubt anyone will stick around long enough to endure. Thankfully, there’s no micro-transactions in sight but this is a small mercy in a game that struggles to get much right.
The use of colour and the general visual design of the game is at times really bad
It doesn’t help either that Nickelodeon Kart Racers is an ugly game. Really ugly. The draw distance is minuscule, the track layout bland and at times the colours are so saturated and discordant it makes racing round the tracks an eye-sore. Even the menus look bad, falling back on the old school look of simple, stock colours and a single background image. This is made even worse by the fact Nicktoons Racing actually plays better than this – 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 very disappointing. There are 12 different racers available to play as – 4 of which taken up by the different Ninja Turtles. It’s especially hard to believe when you look at the list of Nickelodeon shows over the years. Kim Possible, Catdog, Animaniacs, Doug, Fairly Odd Parents, Peppa Pig and even PAW Patrol – the latter of which actually spending most of their time in cars – are missing. Even if these were unlocked along the way it would be enough to add some allure to this but for something supposedly celebrating Nickelodeon’s contribution to cartoons over the years, this is a poor showing.
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 difficulties if you want to 100% Nickelodeon Kart Racers. Why anyone would want to though is beyond me. While I appreciate this kart racer is designed for kids, the frustrating gameplay and sluggish controls make it far more cumbersome to play than it should be – and even my kids were bored playing this. The game looks ugly and the pitiful selection of characters massively limits the replayability too. Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a disappointing cash grab, a terrible celebration of Nickelodeon’s contribution to cartoons and one of the worst games I’ve played in a long time.
All of our videogame reviews are also featured on OpenCritic