Well, this is awkward. I love Mario Kart. I also love Nickelodeon’s shows, especially SpongeBob Squarepants. A combination of the two should be a perfect match. Although there’s fun to have in Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Let’s start with the positives. The roster has expanded in this third outing, with 40 characters spanning from across the Nickelodeon universe. I was impressed to find the likes of more obscure characters like Rocko the wallaby from Rocko’s Modern Life and Zim the alien from Invader Zim. Other notable representations include shows like Ren and Stimpy, Hey Arnold!, Spongebob Squarepants (naturally), and Rugrats (though Tommy and Angelica seem to be suspiciously absent). It should be noted that most characters are unavailable from the outset, only obtainable by completing courses and purchasing via rewards.
Another highlight is that the characters are fully voiced this time around. This is a huge improvement, and something we noticed as lacking in the previous entry. Even more impressive is that the voices belong to the genuine actors from the cartoons, including Billy West of Futurama fame returning as both Ren and Stimpy. Having said that, some voices work better than others. While it’s great to have these returning legends, my only issue is their occasional overuse. They can become slightly grating and repetitive, with little variation in some characters’ lines.
Graphically, the game does an OK job. It’s colorful enough, with 36 tracks spanning all sorts of odd terrain based on the shows. Yet the backgrounds feel flat, and a little muddy, like Plankton is involved in a nefarious plot to suck the life out of Bikini Bottom, or something.
Instead, there’s no plot. Of course, a kart racer doesn’t need one – Mario Kart never has – but why are these characters randomly gathered together to race? Since when do TMNT and Garfield co-exist? Seeing the likes of these unique cartoons mashed together should be genuinely awesome, making it more of a shame that it doesn’t work. And that’s mostly because of performance issues.
The handling of the karts is subpar. I’ve been playing Mario Kart since .. well, forever .. and comparatively, the Nickelodeon vehicles handle like shopping carts. Sure, you can customize them to your heart’s content with unlockable styles and even bikes. But they all handle the same way, with turns coming a smidge too late, and steering that seems off. In short, they’re not easy to control. The frame rate doesn’t help, which drops out a lot. This is a real shame in 2022. I know the Switch isn’t the most powerful system out there, but Mario Kart can do it. Heck, even Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 can do it. Hopefully, a future patch can fix some of these issues, too.
I was surprised that the game weighs in at a hefty 5.8 GB, so make room on your Switch if you’re going for the digital version. It also costs a pretty penny at $49.99, which is steep for a B-grade version of Mario Kart. On sale, this would be much better value.
Overall, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3 is a second-rate version of Mario Kart. While it tries to keep things fresh, and there were a few smiles along the way, the presentation and gameplay simply aren’t up to scratch. Nickelodeon fans who aren’t fussy about sloppy frame rates may find some enjoyment.
Review: Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway (Nintendo Switch)
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3 is a second-rate version of Mario Kart; there’s no denying it. It tries to keep things fresh, and the voice acting is a welcome addition. Although there were a few smiles along the way, the presentation and gameplay aren’t up to scratch, and it’s a little pricey.