Characters from the iconic cartoons SpongeBob SquarePants, Hey Arnold!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Rugrats can now compete in a surprisingly fun new kart racer. So, gather the family and get ready to rev your engine!
Kart racers aren't as common as they were decades ago so any new entry in the genre is sure to stand out. Nickelodeon Kart Racers features a fun-filled cast of familiar characters and its gameplay is impressively solid. The basic controls allow you to accelerate, steer, deploy power-ups, boost, and drift. Although this is simple enough, there are options that allow small children to enjoy the fun including the ability to accelerate automatically, make drifting easier, and even tilt the DualShock 4 controller to steer instead of using the analog stick. It's awesome that they implemented these options as they allow the whole family to enjoy the racing fun.
Aside from the basic controls, there are some enjoyable mechanics to master as well. First of all, driving over the recognizable green Nickelodeon slime will fill your boost meter. Also, your kart transforms into 3 configurations which reminded me of Midway's arcade classic Spy Hunter and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed although admittedly, not quite as cool. Basically, your kart turns into a jet ski while on water and a plane after launching off large ramps. It's additions like these that keep Nickelodeon Kart Racers fun as you play.
List of characters in Nickelodeon Kart Racers
As you can see, the cast of characters isn't huge by any means but considering only 4 franchises are used, there's no denying that it's a tight cast of chums. By the way, whatever happened to Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello? Their new hipper names just feel weird to say. Anyhoo, there are a ton of tracks (over 20) to race on and each one offers a unique and enjoyable environment. Some notable tracks include Toy Store Flash Sale, Birthday Bash, Bikini Bottom Boogie Nights, and Glovey Glove's Festival of Lights.
When it comes to content, Nickelodeon Kart Racers has a variety of single player and multiplayer modes. While playing by yourself, you can try to master 9 Grand Prix championships in both solo and team race modes as well as various difficulty settings. Plus, you can challenge the tracks separately in Free Race and Time Attack modes. When playing with friends, up to 4 players can compete in the Grand Prix and Free Race modes with optional teams as well as a Battle Arena mode where you use power-ups to combat each other within small stages. The Battle Arena mode also has Capture the Flag and Tag variants to add even more variety. All of that being said, I can't help but wish there were even more modes because the selection is still quite basic and lacks longevity.
On the plus side, you'll acquire coins as you race that you can use to purchase kart parts in the shop. Equipping these before a race changes your kart's base stats so customizing your vehicle to match your play style can be quite rewarding. Driving around in your custom kart is made even more enjoyable when you factor in the selection of power-ups. Each one is inspired by the main cast's cartoons such as Tommy's ball, Patrick's pet rocks, Leo's shurikens, and Helga's bubblegum and learning how to use them effectively is great fun.
Although I had an enjoyable time with Nickelodeon Kart Racers, my biggest complaint about it is with the audio. For starters, there is no voice acting at all which is puzzling. When you consider the fact that the soundtrack is generic, it's hard not to be disappointed with the audio. On top of that, the effects aren't satisfying and it all comes together to make a flat and unmemorable soundscape. Thankfully, the cartoonish visuals are well done. Another downside is that the core gameplay doesn't really do much unique that hasn't been done already in other kart racers. I've played plenty of racing games where your vehicle transforms and you charge boost by driving over certain terrain, etc. In other words, they could have gone so much further to make the gameplay stand out from the crowd.
Even though Nickelodeon Kart Racers may appear to be another cartoon cash-in, it actually offers solid racing gameplay as well as plenty of fun tracks, power-ups, and customizable karts that the entire family can enjoy together.
- + Solid kart racing gameplay with a fantastic cast of delightful characters
- + Lots of cool tracks to race on
- + Nifty power-ups and customizable karts
- - Audio is rather bland with no voice acting and generic music and sound effects
- - Gameplay doesn't do anything unique
- - Could use more distinct modes