When it comes to kart racing games I feel as though it’s either going to be a hit or a miss. Coming into this review I was extremely skeptical due to the fact that the first Nickelodeon Kart Racers didn’t do so hot come review time. Regardless, I was intrigued at the idea of being able to play as my favorite Nickelodeon characters so I guess you can say that I wanted to be able to experience a nostalgia blast of sorts. After playing for a couple of hours I didn’t feel that Kart Racers 2 deserved the same score as Kart Racers received on the site so I consider that an improvement in my eyes. With that being said I still have some choice words to say about the title.
Immediately starting the game you’re thrown into a tutorial where you learn the in’s and outs of the controls and learn about the racing mechanics on the tracks. Control-wise it’s all fairly simple and straightforward, except for drifting. The drifting mechanic is extremely difficult to control and wonky. It feels clunky and whenever you try to drift it doesn’t feel right as you slide off of the road almost instantly.
Other than the drift feature it seems like a normal kart racing game until you get to the items and the racing mechanics. As you race throughout the different tracks, you will come across different slime puddles, stunt jumps, and tokens for you to collect, almost similar to the coins you collect in Mario Kart 8. However, instead of increasing acceleration these slime puddles, jumps, and tokens fill up your slime meter which gives you the ability to use chiefs and crewmember power-ups.
These power-ups are a variety of different Nickelodeon characters ranging from classic to more newer shows which I absolutely love. Shows like Hey Arnold!, CatDog, Spongebob, Loudhouse, Danny Phantom, Rocko’s Modern Life, etc. I think that’s my favorite part about Kart Racers 2. Just being able to see your childhood once again and getting that nostalgic blast. Going back to chiefs and crew members they basically act as trump cards that will either give you boosts or affect other racers around you. Chiefs are the big power-ups and you can only have one to bring with you in a race. In my opinion, I feel that some chiefs are way too powerful and kind of a cheap way to get the advantage over racers.
For example, the Plankton chief slows all the racers around you down giving you the upper hand. I’ve used this in almost every single race because not only can you use it at the last second when you need to clutch a 1st place victory but I think that the effects of it last too long and kinda ruins the flow of the race. Of course, some of the other chiefs are balanced like the Filburt chief which just gives you immunity for a short while but some of them are busted.
Moving on we have crew members which in my eyes are just like chiefs but you can take two into a race with you instead of one. Again these are also Nickelodeon characters but they have less extreme abilities that can help you in a race. They are broken up into three categories; defense, attack, and support. As the categories state some of them can give you defense abilities such as shields or invincibility, some attack abilities such as rockets, or after you use an item you automatically drop a stink bomb behind you, or some support abilities like getting the max level of drift automatically or getting extra slime. In my opinion crew members are more overpowered than chiefs as I find that a good majority of them take the fun out of racing and make it more chaotic. Along with the standard items that you get out of item boxes you are constantly getting hit with something if you aren’t in 1st. It doesn’t feel like a solid balanced racing game. The tracks themselves feel fairly similar format wise but all have different unique themes since they’re based on different shows and Nickelodeon events.
Game mode wise there’s Grand Prix, Arena, Challenges, and multiplayer. In the Grand Prix, you race around a set of tracks as you try to come in first place by the end of it all. You can play on the slow, normal, or fast speed types. I always played on fast but here drifting is essential to perform well, but as I stated it’s extremely difficult to master. In arena mode, you battle it out until you or the other racers can earn up to 10 hit points. You have four lives and if you lose them all before you hit the required amount of points you lose the majority of the points you have and have to start over again. In Challenge mode, you complete challenges to unlock new chiefs, crewmembers, and racers. It’s fairly simple and I haven’t found one yet to be a complete challenge to me. In multiplayer you have the option of either going online or local 4 player split-screen. The online mode doesn’t work at all for me and that’s not a good sign considering I played it the week the game came out. When I say it doesn’t work I mean I can’t find a single match, which is disappointing.
I understood that the last Kart Racers game lacked the number of racers that you could be, but this time around there’s actually 30 different drivable characters coming from a range of 12 different Nickelodeon shows. Customization wise you can change the antenna, engine, and wheels of a kart to provide different stat boosts along with the color scheme of the kart. You can also buy new parts and colors in the shop in the main menu. I found the colors to be a bit lacking and really couldn’t feel the difference in using a different part on my kart. Graphics-wise everything is bright and colorful and brings out that cartoony goofy vibe to the game which I find to be appealing.
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is obviously a game aimed directly at children. To be fair though that shouldn’t be taken into account when deciding my verdict on the title. At times the game can seem fairly simple, but at others be a frustrating mess considering all the items and abilities that can screw you over in a race. It just doesn’t have that racing vibe that I’m used to seeing in racing games. It feels more hectic and chaotic more than anything. Without a doubt in my mind, my younger self would probably love this game and everything it has to offer. Taking off my nostalgia goggles Kart Racers 2 just isn’t the game for me and that’s OK. I know that the target audience would get a kick out of it and play it for hours on end. I’ll stick to Mario Kart 8 for now.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.