Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix was released a week ago for the PC and therefore is now available for all current platforms except the PS5. Can it improve on the original?
Photo credit: OverTake
There are games which perfectly fit the motto: better stolen well, than badly self-made. Nickelodeon Kart Racers was such a game. Sadly, it left out the “well” part. The game was a brazen, but loveless copy of Mario Kart. Little content and a lousy performance were the biggest problems. Can Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix finally meet its players’ expectations?
Never without my goo
The gameplay basically hasn’t changed. You choose your favorite Nickelodeon characters like Spongebob, the Avatars Aang or Korra, the Rugrats and even older figures like Rocko or CatDog to participate in funracer-typical races. Drifts and trick jumps offer temporary boost, while different items help you overtake your opponents or protect yourself. Sadly, all items are just the same as in Mario Kart. Only the optics refer slightly to Nickelodeon universes (red shell = football etc.).
To stand out a little bit at least, the original Nickelodeon Kart Racers had introduced the green slime, which fills a gauge and can be collected during races. While this gauge previously only offered another boost, it now activates a special chief skill which is connected to a chief character you can choose before races. Additionally, there are now two further “crew members” to select, which are separated into attack, defense and support characters and offer passive perks.
With this feature, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix indeed differentiates itself a little bit from Mario Kart and also shows another improvement: more Nickelodeon characters than ever before. The drivers have been more than doubled from 12 to 30 characters and come along with 70 possible chiefs and crew members. You unlock them by winning races and cups.
No balance on slime
With its crew feature and finally a bold character pool to choose from, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is actually rather fun and even overcomes its performance problems. On PC, the game runs pretty smoothly at around 60 frames per second most of the time, with rare, minimal slowdowns. On consoles, the game mostly reaches a stable 30 frames per second, but slowdowns can occur as well.
Unfortunately, the crew members are quite unbalanced in ability. During our test we never found a reason not to pick Eugene and Filbert, for example. Eugene grants a boost after every hit you take and Filbert a quite long-lasting shield. Combined, they let you take hits like nothing. It’s hard for other perks to beat that. Also the green slime is nearly omnipresent on the 24 Nickelodeon themed tracks and thus your gauge fills very fast – a waste of tactical potential.
Therefore, the game is quite easy to control and feels right most of the time. Only drifting feels odd, if you are used to Mario Kart, as you can change direction completely even slighty after the initial jump. However, once you get used to that, it is no problem anymore.
With or without friends
If you can forgive Nickelodeon Kart Racers its little mistakes, you can have fun with it even longer than with its role model. Besides seven Grand Prix tournaments in three speed classes (difficulties) each, you can attend the battle arena, time trials, free races and a new challenge mode. Here you have to solve more than 40 different tasks like “Hit five targets with shots” or “Do seven trick jumps before winning the race”. These challenges alone can keep you motivated for many evenings.
Additionally, you can race up to three friends via splitscreen and for the first time, an online mode has been added. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a single race during our test. Such a short time after release, this is very surprising.
Nonetheless, kids and even older Nickelodeon fans can give this funracer a try without fear now. Even though a voiceover and a licensed soundtrack are still missing, you can’t go wrong with Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix as it only costs 40 euros. So even if it doesn’t reach Mario’s class, it is worth the money and is a huge step closer to being a quite serious competitor.
What do you think about the Nickelodeon arcade racer? Will it ever be a “Mario Kart killer”? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg!