I grew up watching Nickelodeon shows like Spongebob Squarepants, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Rugrats. I even played some of the games like Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! and Nicktoons Basketball. There was something about those games that sparked a fanfic-like imagination of seeing characters come together to play basketball or seeing the Spongebob gang compete for parts in a movie. Unfortunately, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix failed to conceal its corporateness and let loose the imagination of these beloved cartoon characters.

One thing that struck me as odd was that the characters don’t have their voices. Not even clips taken from the shows were used for the characters. I feel like I’m playing a hollow shell of them. Sure their body language matches their personalities, but without the voices, it feels like this is almost a knock-off game that doesn’t have the license to use them. Not to mention just plain awkward while racing, seeing characters react to being hit with items, or winning but only miming joy and sorrow. The music also doesn’t seem to come from the shows, but rather is generic, albeit catchy music.

Otherwise, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is a competently made racing game. The character models look nice, and I haven’t experienced any glitches while playing. I like the incorporation of items from the shows, like Krabby Patties as an invincibility item, gnomes from Invader Zim acting like a banana peel, and Tommy’s ball from Rugrats acting like shells from Mario Kart. Something unlike Mario Kart is the pit-crew, which are characters you choose to give you bonuses during the race or extra items. I use Margo from The Loud House, who gives me a boost after I fill up a slime coin bar, Eugene from Hey Arnold! who provides a boost after being hit, and Leni from The Loud House for extra slime coins.

Speaking of slime coins, they are collected in races to boost a pit-crew ability, as I mentioned before, and to buy car customizations in the garage. You also unlock new racers and pit-crew members after you get first place in a Grand Prix. The race tracks are fine, with references to the shows placed around, but I find the battle mode either too big or the models too small. It’s easy to lose track of people or even find people to attack. 

If you love Nickelodeon shows, will make use of the online multiplayer, and find it on sale, I’d say check out Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix. But without any character clips, I feel like this game wasn’t for me. It drove me crazy.