Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway
Developer: Bamtang Games
Publisher: Game Mill
Genre(s): Racing, Action, Arcade, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 14/10/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
A Charming History
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway is the latest addition to the Nickelodeon Kart Racers series. Even before logging in for the first time, I was excited to explore the maps and learn the fundamental mechanics of driving in the Nickelodeon universe that I had grown up watching. Needless to say, I was more than eager to give the game a shot. Did the game live up to my expectations? Find out in this Rapid Review.
When I did launch the title for the first time, I was shown a brief cutscene and then immediately thrust into a basic tutorial. It did not build on my initial hype, but I was not overly disappointed by anything either.
Instead of a traditional story, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway pays homage to the franchises featured through their tracks and characters. Each of the thirty-six tracks represents some aspect of a Nickelodeon franchise. While I did not understand every reference, the tracks were clearly inspired by the premise of each of the Nickelodeon intellectual properties, and I appreciated being able to explore more of the worlds I had grown to appreciate when I watched Nickelodeon content.
Moreover, I was impressed by the number of characters the developers were able to squeeze in. First, there were forty characters in the roster and unlike some other kart racers, each was unique and distinct. I could play as anyone from Reptar to Powdered Toast Man. It felt good to have so many options available.
Additionally, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway featured assists. I appreciated seeing these extra characters, as many were niche, yet still loveable. I got to see some of my favourite characters like The Dirty Bubble and Sheen, even if they were not fully playable.
The game, though it did not have an actual story, kept me locked in with a large cast of characters to play as and plenty of additional homages to the franchises the game draws from.
As much as I enjoyed the references that Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway offers, the most important part of my experience was the racing itself. I liked it, especially initially. Primarily, I enjoyed the movement because I felt in control. I needed to constantly chain together drifts and boost to remain at maximum speed, so I had to constantly consider my surroundings and how to build up speed. The drifting mechanic made this game one of the more involved kart racing games I have played, and I was pleasantly surprised by how the game incentivized me to get better at drifting and boosting.
Unfortunately, despite my excitement with the concept, putting this into practice was not always as rewarding as I would have liked. To start, the drift was relatively finicky, especially when I was using it immediately before or after landing from a jump. I constantly found myself attempting to drift multiple times immediately after landing a big jump when typically it worked on the first try. This may not be as relevant as I am making it out to be, as I may only use this technique because I am familiar with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it felt like the drifting mechanics were not as user-friendly as they could have been.
Charting My Course
Additionally, the maps themselves played a large role in my experience. As I mentioned before, the maps were eye-catching and engaging. However, from a gameplay perspective, I was less impressed. Initially, I enjoyed the maps a lot. They were relatively easy to react to, featured memorable landscapes, and had plenty of obstacles to keep me intrigued. I specifically enjoyed how the various obstacles featured in the stages were distinct. On one map I could be dodging golf balls at a miniature golf range whereas on another I would need to evade manhole covers. The locations were clever, and I enjoyed trying them out.
Unfortunately, as I spent more time playing these maps, they lost their lustre. One of the things I initially thought was interesting was that there were many courses with multiple pathways and tracks to explore. These were fun and novel. However, many of these pathways were inherently faster than the others. It made these seem like the default route, so instead of deciding the path that fit my current needs, I always took the same path.
Taking a Detour
There were some other times when I would need to take alternate routes because one path would not work correctly and send me to my imminent doom. The stages did not always work correctly or account for potential speed which was also very frustrating.
Still, single-player is not the only experience this game offers. In fact, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway is primarily a multiplayer-focused title. This decision made it less fun for me to play with anyone unfamiliar with the game. When I played with someone new, either I needed to explain the shortcuts before playing a map or they would have little chance of beating me. For a game that seems multiplayer-focused, the game placed a surprisingly large emphasis on mastery and learning the tracks.
In fact, the track layouts were not the only difficult aspect to learn when playing in multiplayer. Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway features both local and online multiplayer. The local multiplayer is split screen, which did work, but it made me recognize how many of the items in this game impact a lot of the screen, and how much I valued being able to see better. The shared screen option was difficult to see, but still a more than viable option. Unfortunately, the game immediately ends once the first human player crosses the finish line. I did not appreciate this decision, as while it sped up waiting times, it made the player who did not finish stop mid-race.
Additionally, very few of the items drastically equalize the game. While the computer players often remain clustered together, breaking away from the pack is not difficult, and once that occurs, it is challenging to regain control of the game. There is an item that targets the person in the lead, but it is both infrequent and not overwhelmingly powerful enough to make a substantial difference. Even computer players sometimes take a decisive lead and the gap seems and likely is insurmountable. The polarizing difference and lack of items that wildly swing the tides make Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway a lot less multiplayer-focused and more skill-based.
Still, the inclusion of items overall made the game far more enjoyable. These items all seemed familiar to those seen in other kart racers I have played, but that was not necessarily an issue. I would have liked to see more innovative and interesting items, but the items available did help differentiate the gameplay and reward me for learning how to use them.
Specifically, there were items that changed the game by placing large damaging gnomes everywhere, including more boosts, and including bowling pins to knock over. While these did look drastic, they often had less of an impact on my experience than I would have liked, especially considering their perceived significance.
Another major aspect of this game was slime. Driving over slime filled up a meter for a special character, each of which had different effects. I could get a shield of turtle shells, absorb slime coins around me for a speed boost, or even stick out a pole to whack opponents with. These were honestly super clever, and I enjoyed seeing how they impacted my play style. In addition to the slime character I selected, I had two additional support characters to select. These often offered more simple but still powerful upgrades. There were plenty of these characters to explore and master. I enjoyed how they impacted my experience.
Moreover, I could select between different karts and bikes, styles of wheels, and thrusters. These were simple, and only provided statistic adjustments but were once again interesting. I usually found myself maximizing my speed, but there were multiple different selections to make my character in Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway tailor to my play style.
I also was excited to realize that there was a mission mode in addition to the time trial, single race, and Grand Prix modes. These additional modes make Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway a lot more enjoyable to revisit. The challenge mode featured a lot of single races where I needed to complete a certain objective, usually while winning the race simultaneously. It was a fun distraction, but it was not a fleshed-out single-player campaign. Instead, it was a solid distraction that helped me retain my interest especially when I was playing alone.
Additionally, the game featured a collection of characters to unlock. I earned coins from each match that I could use to purchase characters in the shop. This was simple, and since there was no way to purchase those coins with real money, it never felt predatory or frustrating. I could also unlock characters by completing certain missions too. The unlock system was fine, but I was never overly excited to unlock a new character.
Sights and Sounds
The sound design of the game was proficient but not exemplary. The music was adequate, but I never found myself enjoying or disliking it. On the other hand, the sound effects were good, and I enjoyed listening to them. They were energetic and kept me motivated to do well. Unfortunately, the voice lines were quite annoying, and they sounded out of character. Since the characters are so popular, the alterations that came with this title’s voice acting were immediately prevalent and it left a sour taste in my mouth. Still, the sound effects were not bad, I just was not impressed.
I liked the visuals though. The stages looked interesting, the colours were vibrant, and the characters themselves were easily recognizable. Even more minor characters oozed with visual style. Overall, this was a solid part of Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway.
While I enjoyed many aspects of Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway, I am incredibly disappointed that the performance was lacking. There were many stages where the game lagged but the issues did not stop there. I found myself dying because the track would not work correctly more times than I would have liked, especially for the price point. Even on normal slopes my character would occasionally bug out and get stuck in the floor or have other issues. Considering the price point, the issues in the quality of the game left me incredibly disappointed.
Overall, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway is a lot of fun. There is a lot of content to explore, novel concepts for a kart racer, and plenty of ways to encourage improvement. However, it is not perfect. As a party game, it falls short. It has a lot of more intricate techniques and the tracks themselves have a learning curve. The items do not balance the nearly inevitable skill gap enough. Moreover, disappointing technical issues are prevalent regardless of how this game is intended to be played. Unfortunately, at the current price point and with the current issues, I cannot recommend Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.