Though I've never played a Nickelodeon Kart Racer title before, I didn't have the highest of expectations going into Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway. Part of my prejudice was likely due to the stigma carried by licensed kids' games, though I really should move past that, as there are some truly excellent licensed games on the market right now. I am also still carrying the bad taste in my mouth from the last licensed Nickelodeon title, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. While that game has improved by leaps and bounds over the year since it was released, it arrived on the market in an unfinished-feeling state, with no character voices and a very bare-bones UI. Of course, All-Star Brawl was developed by Swedish developer Ludosity and Costa Rican developer Fair Play Labs, while Kart Racer 3 has been developed by Bamtang Games, so the only things the games really have in common are some shared characters and the fact that they are both published by GameMill Entertainment.
Whatever preconceived notions I was carrying going into Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway went right out the window as soon as I fired the game up. This is a very complete-feeling game - emphasis on the very. If anything, it almost overwhelms the player with choices right out of the gate. In Slime Speedway, there are selections on top of choices mixed with options. There are so many ways to play this game, I've had to carefully comb the menu system to make sure I've experienced them all at least once before writing this review. For a licensed kids' product, there is a lot here, and I do mean a lot.
The game warms the player up with a short tutorial featuring Spongebob that goes over the basics. Accelerate with the R1 button, drift with the L1 button, and brake with Square (I have been playing on PlayStation 5). You can pick up and fire off weapons and boosts as usual in games like this. Zip around the track and try to outrace your opponents. You know the drill.
What really sets Slime Speedway apart is the exceptional configuration control you have over your character. As one might expect, each character in the game has their own stats; speed, weight, grip, the usual assortment of differentiators. I usually gravitate towards Aang from Avatar, as he is the speediest of the bunch. I find that I can make up for his light weight and poor handling with careful steering, but that speed is absolutely clutch when the race tightens up. So fine, I've got the fastest character. But then I have to choose a vehicle for him, each of which has its own stats. There are bikes and karts, and every one of them has strengths and weaknesses, just like the characters. So perhaps I want to try to balance Aang's speed with better handling. Or maybe I want to double down and give him a fast kart, turning him into a lightweight lightening bolt. The choice is up to the player.
But wait, that's not all. After selecting your character and kart, you have to choose your exhaust system and tires - and you guessed it, each of those has its own stats. And then you get to pick two pit-crew members, which are supporting characters that offer unique passive perks. And then, you pick your primary support character, who offers you a super that you can occasionally fire off with the Triangle button (these supers are changed by the titular slime - drive through as much as you can to power up as quickly as possible). As you play through the game in its many different modes and more of these various options unlock, the number of possible combinations becomes truly mind-boggling.
The game comes with maybe 10-12 characters unlocked, but there are at least double that number that you can unlock with the in-game currency (and yes, they are all fully voiced). Likewise, you will eventually unlock a huge array of karts, bike, tires, exhaust systems, support characters, and cosmetics. Some of these can be unlocked by playing through the game's exhaustive "Challenge" mode, where Slime Speedway sets you up on a specific race with a specific character and asks you to hit certain marks. These goals are not always "win the race", as sometime you are asked to use a weapon a certain number of times, or take specific shortcuts during the race. This mode may have been my favorite in the game, as it forced me into playing with characters and karts I wouldn't have otherwise chosen (not Aang, in other words).
Other modes include four-race mini-tournaments, single races, and a pretty neat Arena mode. Arena mode is a small collection of minigames, most of which are absolutely no fun when playing against the AI, but are a blast when playing with other humans. My favorite of these is a slime-spreading competition, which has racers zipping around an open area on teams, trying to cover the greatest amount of area with their color of slime, Splatoon-style. You can play splitscreen at home, and of course you can haul the entire thing online to play against friends or randos.
Gameplay is exactly what you would expect it to be. Zip around the track, fire weapons at other racers while trying to avoid getting hit yourself, keep an eye out for shortcuts. There are three difficulty modes available. I tend to go straight to the toughest difficulty, but the easiest is just about perfect for my six-year-old son, challenging him a bit while still allowing him to achieve a fair number of wins. Tracks are extremely varied, and full of fun shortcuts that include "slime chutes", which are raging slime waterslide rollercoaster things that send you careening down a track almost out of control. Again, perfect for kids and fun for adults.
Frankly, my initial expectations for this game were dead wrong. I expected Kart Racers 3 to be mediocre, and instead I found a delightful game that is far better than it needed to be. This game would move units regardless of quality, but the fact that it is so robust shows that the developers really cared about making something that was actually good. Parents shouldn't hesitate to buy this quality title for their kids, and should probably set aside a few hours to play it themselves.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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