Thursday, October 25

Review: Nickelodeon Kart Racers [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Ahh, licensed games. While the scorn they’re sometimes given can be a little overblown, there have been enough cases of familiar and popular characters being used to sell subpar games over the years that it can be warranted. That said, I’d say the most common case is that the licensed games aren’t bad, just not terribly memorable. That’s mostly the case with Nickelodeon Kart Racers, which on a system that didn’t have the genre-defining Mario Kart could at least be a middle-of-the-road option. That said, on the Switch it joins a smattering of other racing games that have tried, and generally failed, to do anything that even gets them in the vicinity of the bar it has set.


The draw here is obviously the Nickelodeon license, which will allow you to race in environments and with characters pulled from four popular cartoon series. Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, and Hey Arnold! are all represented and for fans of those cartoons it will no doubt add an element of fun to the mix. While the racing may not be that advanced the presentation is certainly a plus as the tracks are all colorful and have a level of detail that cartoon fans should appreciate. Similarly, characters from these shows and their signature rides have unique looks and add to the fun.


There’s also no questioning that the game has a fair number of tracks, totaling 24 in all, and each generally having some flavor of their own. In some sections you’ll switch into a more aquatic mode as you race on slime, and these shifts do help to keep the racing more fun. This being a kart racing game there are, of course, power-ups you’re able to pick up and use but with a fair number of them it can be difficult to know precisely what they do or how most effectively to use them. For people looking to apply some technique there is at least drifting available, though its implementation doesn’t have a great feel so that may be a wash.


As a whole younger gamers may really get a kick out of Nickelodeon Kart Racers but I’d say their enjoyment would heavily depend on both their familiarity with Mario Kart and their outright love for these characters. The further they are on the scale towards the latter rather than the former the better hopes that the game will have some longevity. For all of the modes and small touches that it brings to the table, though, it’s impossible to escape the fact that overall it feels like a knock off and without its colorful and popular license it likely wouldn’t warrant much attention at all.


Score: 6

Pros:
  • If you have a love for Nickelodeon characters and loads of green slime you’re much more likely to enjoy this title
  • The game’s 24 tracks have some decent variety and flow

Cons:
  • Despite the level of effort and admirable amount of content the racing itself simply isn’t that engaging
  • While there’s an attempt to layer in drifting for more skilled racers its implementation is lacking
  • Though very colorful the models generally have more of a last-gen feel