Thursday, January 31, 2019

Nickelodeon Kart Racers (NSW, PS4, XB1) Review

Oh, we're going into double time now! That's right, this is the first of two reviews planned for this final day of January. Before we get to the more exciting second review, let's check out Nickelodeon Kart Racers for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Slime and punishment

I'm always up for a competent kart racer, even if it's a licensed one, which doesn't always have a storied or high quality history. A kart racer featuring Nickelodeon characters, spanning several eras of shows, sounds like a great idea. That said, Nickelodeon Kart Racers, how ever fun it may be at times, unfortunately, checks off the bare minimum number of boxes to be a worthwhile racer.

Nickelodeon Kart Racers doesn't do much to move the genre forward, and that's probably something you'd expect from a licensed game. You have your multi-lap races that take place on an assortment of Nickelodeon-themed courses with a cast of characters, but these are limited to just four different franchises--SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, and Hey Arnold. No doubt with the pantheon of cartoon characters within the Nickelodeon roster both past and present, this middling selection of playable characters within Nickelodeon Kart Racers will disappoint many--including yours truly.

You're not going to see the best representation of Nickelodeon all-stars in this kart racer's roster...
The track selection is rather nice, and the tracks themselves are designed well enough to be enjoyable. While the game boasts nearly two dozen tracks, many of these are merely remixed tracks of races already in the game. Some have you playing them in the opposite direction merely at a different time of day, while others are just flooded with Nickelodeon's trademark green slime.

Nickelodeon Kart Racers borrows a lot of from the Mario Kart series, and why wouldn't you when it's the most popular series in the genre? Everything from the item selection in Nickelodeon Kart Racers mirrors an item in Mario Kart. The game does give each of its dozen or so character roster an exclusive item that is generally earned from being in the back of the pack. Since Nickelodeon Kart Racers takes after Mario Kart so much, why not take after Mario Kart Wii while the game is at it. That's exactly what Nickelodeon Kart Racers does, as in later difficulties, you will definitely be on the receiving end of a lot of obnoxious item attacks.

The original idea that Nickelodeon Kart Racers features in its gameplay is the aforementioned green slime. Riding over a patch of slime will gradually increase a boost meter. The more that it's filled, the greater the boost you get when you use it. Outside of that, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a bog standard kart racing game with your basic items, drift mechanics, and steering. There is some kart customization to be found from collecting coins littered across the game's tracks, and this goes a long way to presenting some semblance of replay value. Purchasing new kart parts and paint jobs is somewhat enjoyable, but you really have to like the actual racing gameplay to keep going with it.

Hey Arnold!! You're in first, football head!
By far the worst offenders of Nickelodeon Kart Racers are the total lack of an online component and even worse, the game's performance. Usually when someone says a game of this console generation looks like a PlayStation 2 game, they're speaking in gross hyperbole. Well, allow me to borrow the sentiment--just without the hyperbole part. Really, when looking at Nickelodeon Kart Racers in still shots (as this review has plenty to feast your eyes on) as well as in motion, the idea that the game could be an higher resolution PlayStation 2 game would not be much of an exaggeration. It doesn't look good at all, and dare I say the game looks rather ugly.

"Looking good?" No, you're really not, Helga.
Sound-wise, characters do not speak whatsoever. There is no dialog to speak of, in general, apart from text bubbles when characters either give or receive damage. The music is relatively inoffensive, offering some catchy songs here and there--but nothing that references any of the Nickelodeon shows or properties within the game.

Nickelodeon Kart Racers delivers an arcade kart racer in the style of Mario Kart, but without any of the charm, engaging gameplay, or originality. It's not a lazily made game, it just does the bare minimum required to be a slightly capable kart racing game. Between the lackluster performance and presentation, cut-corners in design and budget, and lack of online play, this is one race that you don't have to necessarily participate in, unless you're a big fan of SpongeBob, Rugrats, TMNT, or Hey Arnold. As it stands, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a bargain bin buy at best.

[SPC Says: D]

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