There is only one king of video game kart racers, and that’s Nintendo’s Super Mario Kart franchise, but a new knock-off game featuring characters from Nickelodeon’s stable of cartoon characters may be a passable Mario Kart clone for those gamers who don’t own a Nintendo game console. It definitely lacks the polish of a Mario Kart game, but it also manages to be quite thrilling and fun at times thanks to the fact that it plays nearly identically to the Plumber’s Kart franchise. Picking up this game really comes down one factor and that’s if you already own a Nintendo console and a Mario Kart title. If you do, then there’s no reason to buy Nickelodeon Kart Racers, but if you don’t, then it’s a pretty damn close experience to the Mario Kart franchise, so for $39.99 it may be worth picking up.
You can check out my full review of the game below in video form. The script is embedded after the video if you prefer to read through it.
Hey now fans of digital go-karts, Matt Heywood here to review Nickelodeon Kart Racers, or what I like to call a cheap knock-off of the Mario Kart franchise that sorta works if you don’t own a Nintendo console.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a straight up clone of the Super Mario Kart experience, with a bit less polish, and much less video game star power. Everything about this game from top to bottom screams Mario Kart, and if it weren’t for the fact that the game looks a bit cheap, and doesn’t feature Nintendo characters, gamers would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
So does the fact that it’s a cheap Mario Kart clone matter? Well, yes and no, because quite frankly, Nickelodeon Kart Racers, while not perfect, still manages to capture the allure of the Mario Kart franchise, but at the same time it also feels a bit half-assed, especially in the visuals and sound departments.
The game does look dated and a bit chincy due to the less-than-perfect visual design, but for the most part I didn’t find the basic presentation to ultimately hamper the fun, which is found in the Mario Kart-esque gameplay.
Like Mario Kart you can play the locally with up to four other players, but it doesn’t feature online multiplayer, just split screen local. It also has a Grand Prix Mode, a Free Race Mode, a Time Attack Mode, and for multiplayer, it also has a Battle Arena mode with a few fun game types to play. This Mario Kart clone also offers team races, which pit you and another racer on the same team, but not in the same kart, so you’re both racing separately, but as a team.
Also like Mario Kart, you can choose between Easy, Regular, and Hard modes, which equate to the 50cc, 10cc, and 150cc classes in the Lord of Kart racers.
In any of the modes you can choose one of the 12 available Nickelodeon kart racers, who come from the network’s TMNT, Rugrats, Spongebob, and Hey Arnold shows. The roster is rather limited at 12 characters, which is a bummer considering how many other characters could have been used from the stable of Nickelodeon shows. Each character does have a unique power up that they can use, and their rides are all different, but unlike Mario Kart, I didn’t really feel much difference using all of the characters, so they mostly drive the same even though they all have different styles of karts to whip.
The game offers up 24 different race tracks, but I’d argue there are more like 12, because in reality, most of the tracks are just the reverse versions of other tracks, so it’s not like there are 24 absolutely unique courses to race on, so the environments do kind of run together and all feel the same after you’ve taken part in a Grand Prix, or have sampled each track available.
Like I mentioned earlier, this game is a cheap knock off of the Mario Kart franchise, which is mostly realized in its visuals and lack of racers and tracks, but on the other hand, it actually does quite well at recreating the thrill of a Mario Kart race or Grand Prix event. The racing aspect of this game actually feels pretty damn tight, and races can get very intense, even when just racing the AI.
The various power-ups you can pick up never allow any racer to lead for very long, and if you end up dead last, there’s always a chance you can win the race thanks to the randomness of pickups, and the chaos that can ensue when you use them. Nickelodeon’s fascination with slime also comes into play and can change the dynamics of a race thanks to the fact that driving over slime builds up a turbo meter that you can use for temporary speed boosts.
The fun factor obviously increases when playing locally with friends, or in the game’s Battle Arena, which offers up a pure Free-for-All mode, a capture the flag mode, and a Tag mode, all of which can elicit some great fun with the right group of friends.
Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a cheap looking Mario Kart clone, that also happens to be fun to play. I wouldn’t say that you should get it if you already own a Mario Kart game, or if you’re a Nickelodeon fan, but if you don’t have Mario Kart or a Nintendo console, then this title can definitely scratch the Mario Kart itch. It just lacks the overall polish of a Mario Kart, but it is still fun to play thanks to the racing action.
Let’s call it a 6.5 out of 10 type of game. If you need some Kart racing in your life and hate Nintendo for some reason, then Nickelodeon Kart Racers can fill the void, albeit in a less than perfect fashion.
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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