Dual Screens: Nickelodeon Kart Racers: Review (Xbox One & Nintendo Switch)
Often times multiple authors wind up playing the same game at the same time but the differences between consoles may not warrant two separate reviews. Dual Screens is a segment on Galaxy of Geek where two authors review the same game but each offer their own perspective and score.
Nintendo Switch By: Frank Duran
Nickelodeon Kart Racers is an obvious cash grab and kids game but it truly is offensive that there are no voice actors. No voice actors in a cartoon racer! Even if Tommy said the same thing every time he threw a bottle would be less offensive then no voice actors. You are left with the often terrible Kart noises and the mostly repeated soundtrack.
The GameCube Era graphics aside, the Karting at least has some interesting twists. As you race you can run over the various puddles of slime sprayed across the course, that can fill up a turbo boost bar. The turbo is a nice touch and can lead to closing some tight gaps. You can also turbo once you drift like in Mario Kart but you can abuse it a lot more here to make sure you turbo constantly. The drifting feels great, too bad all the rest of the racing feels clunky. Mario Kart is a game of memorizing every course so you there are no surprises other than your other racers. Nickelodeon Kart Racers doesn’t seem to understand that because they try to change it up every grand prix course by changing things on the last lap. Sure that seems like a good idea but when your game is already such a labor to race through, it just messes with you. This leads to the computers stealing first from you and leading to more frustration.
Another important thing to understand or not understand is that even though this looks like a kids game, this game is haaard. I’m good at Mario Kart, we take it very seriously in my house and we race for blood. So my skills have been forged and I can without a doubt say I’m good. I had a hard time coming in first every Grand prix so I could unlock more tracks. It wasn’t exactly worth it either, the tracks I would unlock are just remixes of the tracks from before. Most of the tracks are just New York tracks anyways, with the exception of SpongeBob and Rugrats tracks.
Mostly this game is just not worth your money. They barley put effort into making this game, heck they didn’t even spend money to get voice actors or even recycled lines from the shows and they don’t deserve your money. If you want a new Kart game, this should not be it, you might as well be playing the already great Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Frank’s score: 3 out of 10
Xbox One By: Tristan Rendo
Nickelodeon Kart Racers continues the age old formula of taking a number of loosely connected characters, shoving a go kart under them and saying “Go!” As if often the case with kart racers that are not Mario Kart, the results are mixed (correction, racers that are not Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing).
The racing mechanics in Nickelodeon Kart Racers are fairly well tuned; though initially attempting to make a go of it with the “stock” parts for your go kart is rough. Upgrading the kart (using coins collected in races) goes a long way to improving the experience of Nickelodeon Kart Racers, but most of these upgrades require playing through multiple Grand Prix to earn enough coins. Which in my case meant that my kart finally started to handle how I wanted it about 2/3 of my way through my play through. Once I had these upgrades, the difficulty curve that Frank references became much less sharp. Though much like many other kart racers before it the game does use a “computer racers go faster when not in the lead” mechanic. This is all well and fine as it keeps the game interesting but as is often the case, the balance is just a bit too far to the computer’s side on this one.
Track/level design is also, generally enjoyable though extremely limited. The tracks aren’t going to blow anyone’s mind, and visually they often leave a lot to be desired, but in terms of basic mechanics they don’t generally interfere with game-play. The problem however is that while the game boasts 24 levels/tracks, the reality is more like eight with very little variety between them. All eight also appear in a “reverse” form. This is common practice and a somewhat fun way to get new life out of the tracks but what was odd is that Nickelodeon Kart Racers doesn’t admit they are the same course but in reverse, rather they give unique track names to all of the reverse courses, almost like they hoped you wouldn’t notice. Lastly, the final eight courses are “slime variants” of other tracks/themes. While these are not exactly copies, they are effectively the same environment but played on slime instead of a road.
On that note it is worth pointing out that Nickelodeon Kart Racers does attempt to vary the game play a bit by including portions of tracks (or entire tracks) where you are on jet ski’s/boat racing on a river of slime (because Nickelodeon) instead of on a standard course. These races offered more variance the others but without “slime handling” upgrades to your vehicle are pretty frustrating.
More frustrating however is the lack of clarity/instruction in the game. I didn’t even realize that boost, which the game is pretty much unplayable without, was a thing until several races in when I had to pause the game and saw a controller layout for the first time. I also had to dig through the game’s menu to find information on what the various power-ups do.
Admittedly the biggest pain point for myself is the sound/audio for the game. While I did not find the lack of characters voices quite as offensive to my being as Frank did, the lack of even pre-recorded audio clips for the characters is glaring. Combined with lackluster music that often doesn’t match the courses and minimal sound effect, Nickelodeon Kart Racers often winds up feeling “empty” due to the lack of audio. Not to mention the fact that these characters basically lose all of their charm without it. Seriously, adding character voices in any form would have drastically improved my overall experience.
Lastly, I’m genuinely not sure who this game is made for. The character choices are both surprisingly limited and also just odd. Character selection is limited to characters from Spongebob, Rugrats, Hey Arnold! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each series represented with a couple of playable racers. Nickelodeon’s enormous cast of characters from nearly 30 years of programming was somehow distilled to just those four shows. More importantly, the game is not easy enough to pick up for kids (nor are shows they are more familiar enough referenced) nor does the game lean into nostalgia enough (or provide a high enough quality game) to bring in the adult crowd.
Tristan’s score: 4.5 out of 10
Final Rating: 3.75/10
GoG Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
Time to completion: 1-2 hours
Price Bought at: Review code was provided
Why you should buy it: Mario Kart isn’t available on Xbox One or PS4
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You still own any version of Mario Kart