Kart racers are a dime a dozen these days, with Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot all having their own entries in the genre. There are also multiple indie kart racing games such as Beach Buggy Racing that are fun in their own right. The definitive kart racer, Mario Kart, has been long stagnant, having not had a brand new mainline iteration in around 8 years, so there is room for another kart racer to muscle in on it’s market share. Cue Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway.
Being the third game from the series in six years, the team has used each title to hone and improve on their gameplay, which means that Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway is the ultimate version of this kart racer. New mechanics and characters bring renewed excitement for the Kart Racing genre. As is the tradition at Nickelodeon, slime is now at the forefront of this iteration, with slime offshoots to tracks where the player can perform tricks to get a speed boost and slime kart washers that act as a super booster.
The game plays a lot like Mario Kart, with its item and control system feeling exactly the same as the aforementioned title. Bringing some familiarity to the game is not a bad thing however. It is quite the opposite, as it allows the player to pick up and start playing immediately without having to learn too many new mechanics. If it was an exact copy and paste it would get boring though, so Nickelodeon Kart Racers has added a support system (or Pit Crew) which allows you to choose three extra characters that provide support powers each race. These include characters like Krum from Ahh Real Monsters! shooting enemy racers, or Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles slicing and dicing.
The character roster is a lot of fun, which is always the case with Nickelodeon games. Having old favourites such as Cat Dog, TMNT, Garfield, and The Rugrats crew unlocks that nostalgic feeling for adult gamers, making this a great game for the whole family. Characters in the game are unlocked by spending slime coins that are collected during races. You are able to unlock about one character per three cups you do well in, which seems like the sweet spot. You never feel as though you have to grind to unlock in-game items and characters, which can be the case in other similar titles.
Split screen support is a must with titles such as this, and Nickelodeon delivers split screen flawlessly. The game has frame-rate issues on other platforms, but I didn’t see any of that while playing it on Xbox Series X, even while playing four player split screen.
Graphically this game is what you’d expect from a kart racer. A cartoony world with detailed characters that feel very true to their respective television shows. The vivid colours and large number of varied tracks keep players interested for longer than they would be when playing some other similar titles.
Speaking of tracks, I was impressed with the sheer number of different worlds that are available to tear up at launch. 37 tracks to be exact. They are spread over worlds from Spongebob Squarepants’ Kamp Koral to Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Fire Nation, and everything in-between, and are all very different and exciting to play with friends.
Playing this game as a solo player however will likely only be attempted in short burts. It is very much a party game, as it doesn’t have a real single player only mode such as career. The game also gets very repetitive, despite all the different options available. So after an initial burst of play time, the game will likely stay stagnant until the kids are together or friends are over to play.
The player can jump into multiple different modes such as Slime Scrambles, which is essentially a cup mode, allowing the player/s to compete over four racers to claim the title, as well as other modes such as single race and a few arena modes. Control the Golden Spatula is a personal favourite, which puts players in an arena and tasks them with collecting the Golden Spatula and holding it for as long as they can.
As far as customisation goes, the player can customise their character with different vehicle types (kart or bike), model kart/bikes, different wheels/tires, and paint jobs. These can be saved as a preference which allows players to find the build that works for them and get into the action without having to select those options each time.
The game is aimed at the younger gamer, which is evident given the lack of challenging AI, even at the highest starting difficulty (a higher difficulty can be unlocked) winning races is relatively easy even if you muck up a bunch of times throughout. This may be smart to keep the younger generation engaged, but does nothing to help veteran gamers who are drawn in by the nostalgia of the cartoons of their youth.