Nickelodeon Kart Racers (Switch, PS4, Xbox One)

For several generations, youngsters have enjoyed watching shows on the Nickelodeon cable channel for kids.  Heck, even when I was a little kid back in the 80’s, I enjoyed watching Nick shows such as You Can’t Do that on Television, Danger Mouse, and Double Dare.  Even more recently I’ve been known to watch shows on that channel like Invader ZIM and The Penguins of Madagascar.  My younger brothers would watch shows on Nickelodeon, too, such as Rugrats and SpongeBob Squarepants.  And now kart racing and Nickelodeon fans can have fun together with Nickelodeon Kart Racers, available for nearly all current consoles, but reviewed on Switch here.

If you’ve played a kart racing game before, you know exactly what to expect here.  You can choose from several different racers from the Nickelodeon lineup.  These include SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy from SpongeBob Squarepants, Arnold and Helga from Hey, Arnold!, Tommy, Angelica, and Reptar (yes!) from Rugrats, and the four turtles from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because apparently Nickelodeon owns the rights to them now.  You’ll race on themed tracks from those cartoons as well.  Such as the streets of Bikini Bottom and the Glove World Amusement Park from SpongeBob, the downtown city and elementary school from Hey, Arnold!, a toy store and birthday decorated playroom from Rugrats, and the sewers and Dimension X from TMNT.  Tracks will sometimes change depending on the lap you’re on, which is cool.  As you race around the tracks, you can pick up weapons to give you an edge.  These also make refence to the shows, but are standard kart weapons like sewer lid shields, baby bottle rockets, and many more.

Green Slime has always played an important role on Nickelodeon shows.  I think it all started with them dumping slime on people’s heads in shows like You Can’t Do That On Television and Double Dare, and more recently the Kids’ Choice Awards.  Green Slime plays an important part in Nickelodeon Kart Racers as well, because it’s how you earn turbo boosts.  On the tracks are patches of green slime, and if you run over them, your boost meter will fill.  You can also run over objects that’ll make it rain down slime.  Your slime meter has three notches, and you can use a notch for a small turbo boost, or fill all three for a larger one.  It kind of reminds me how the boost meters work in recent Ridge Racer games.  Some tracks are filled to the brim with slime, and similar to Sonic and SEGA Racing Transformed, your karts can sprout floats (and wings for air sections) to race on a sea of slime.  While on these slime filled sections, your boost meter will fill really fast, so have fun!  Sometimes on these areas they’ll mix things up with slalom and elimination sections.

The game has your standard kart modes.  For single player, you can race in cups where you take on several tracks and earn more points the higher you place.  You can also do a single race or time trials.  Scattered about the tracks are also coins, which you can use to buy parts in the shop.  You can buy parts and paint jobs that’ll make your karts look like vehicles from the shows, like Mermaidman’s Boatmobile, the Flying Dutchman’s Ship, the Jolly Olly Ice Cream Truck, and the Party Wagon.  You can also earn these parts when you level up your racer by winning.  Local multiplayer modes include cup races with or without teams, single races, and battle modes featuring events like free-for-all with weapons, tag, and capture the flag.  So there are plenty of modes in this game, and different difficulty selections as well.

The game does have a few problems, though.  It feels like they just kind of slapped this game together, as graphics look like they could’ve been done on the PS2 or GameCube.  The game is also a bit buggy, as I would get stuck in places on the track at times, but luckily the game would reset me back on the track soon after.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to go on the tracks, too.  It would’ve also have been nice to have more characters.  I would’ve loved to have raced as Invader ZIM or characters from Rocko’s Modern Life.  But perhaps the worst offender is that the game has no voices.  Instead, characters react with text on the bottom of the screen.  That’s so cheap.  I know it would’ve cost more to get the voice actors in to say lines, but it would’ve added so much more to the presentation value.  As it stands, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a mediocre kart game for Nick fans.  But if you just need one kart racer on the Switch, you might as well go with the vastly superior Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Kid Factor:

Nickelodeon Kart Racers is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence.  You can fire silly cartoon weapons at other racers, who just spin around when hit, and that’s as violent as it gets.  If you’re OK with your kids watching Nick shows and movies, they’ll be OK with this game, too.  Reading skill is helpful as the game is text based.

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