Super Slimy Racing
HIGH Enjoyable racing and lovable characters.
LOW Barebones package, disappointing online. And no voice-acting?
WTF All these references and the devs couldn’t fit a Kablam nod in?
Readers will know this, but it’s worth repeating — I love budget licensed titles. While developers and publishers seem to be doing away with this tier of production, 2020 has seen some releases that fall into this category, and whether it’s platformers or brawlers, I’m happy to play things in this style. One of the most popular kinds of budget game? Kart racing.
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is a new racer from Bamtang Games and serves as a follow-up to their 2018 release Nickelodeon Kart Racers. Here, players control one of 38 characters from shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, CatDog, Ninja Turtles, Avatar: The Last Airbender and even my favorite Rocko’s Modern Life to compete in solo or multiplayer races across 28 courses.
There are also 70 non-playable characters that act as pit crew. Players select one chief who provides a special power after building up a meter and two support characters equipped with passive or active abilities. For example, selecting a chief like Plankton from SpongeBob grants players the ability to slow every other racer down for a bit once their meter is full.
There’s even more choice found in the car customization. Of course, it’s not as expansive or simulation-heavy as something like Gran Turismo, but tuning a car is an important part of the experience. While each character has a specific car assigned to them, players select an engine and wheels that have their own attributes.
With this as the starting point, I will say that I enjoyed this game more than I expected to. The racing is fast and easier than something like Mario Kart thanks to a floatier feel in the controls. Cars seem to glide across the courses, which works well for this kind of experience as drifting (something I have never been good at) is simpler to pull off and rewards a slight boost.
Driving around courses based on Nick properties like one inspired by the The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen from Ren and Stimpy to one modeled after Zim from Invader Zim’s home planet also feels great. The courses are as standard as they come but I appreciate the window-dressing and dedication to the characters. Hell, they even added a Double Dare course, which is a reference to something no one below the age of 35 will get.
While there’s tons of Nick fan service here and seeing all four Ninja Turtles (and Shredder!) along with Heffer from Rocko’s Modern Life was the absolute coolest, I was disappointed that none of the characters are voiced. It seems like a huge gap in the content to feature a cast so iconic without the voices to match — I would have settled for pre-recorded archive audio, at the very least.
Another issue is that while it’s serviceable, there isn’t much in NKR2 to differentiate itself from the competition from a driving or mechanical perspective. The quality of play feels fairly generic, and I would have liked more singleplayer options too. There isn’t a story mode or anything other than racing and battling.
Even the online is barebones, as the only two options are a grand prix and free race. Aside from how long it takes to find opponents (there are never enough to fill the roster completely) there’s nothing to work towards — a battle pass system or multiplayer unlocks would have done a lot more to keep me engaged.
Overall, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is generic, yet serviceable. Nick fans like me will get a big kick from all of the characters and references that were stuffed into the package, while younger kids and those new to kart racers will enjoy the accessibility of play. It may lack the features or amount of content that I would have liked, but I can safely say that I still managed to get some enjoyable mileage out of this kart racer.
Disclosures: This game is published by GameMill Entertainment and developed by Bamtang Games It is available on Switch, PS4, PC and XBO. This copy was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 15 hours were spent in singleplayer, with every character unlocked. About 1 hour was spent in the online multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E for Comic Mischief and Mild Cartoon Violence. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is a kart racing game, based on characters and themes from Nickelodeon properties, in which players drive around whimsical tracks in contests of speed or arena-type challenges. As characters race, they can pick up and use cartoony power-up weapons (e.g., jellyfish, slime, boomerangs, exploding barrels), causing other racers to briefly spin out of control or slow down. One weapon, called the “diaper stink bomb,” causes racers to briefly emit green flatulence clouds.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no dialogue during gameplay and all relevant info in menus is communicated via text. Text cannot be resized or altered. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable but there is a control diagram. The Y-axis cannot be changed.
He has a knack for talking about movies and games he‘s passionate about. If anyone ever needs an expert on Jim Jarmusch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Donkey Kong Country or Kanye West, he’s your guy. Don’t say we didn't warn you, though.
He can be found on Twitter and his weekly podcast, The Waypoint Set Podcast, where he manages to get some important guests before promptly talking their ears off.