I know what you’re thinking: “they made three of these already?” Yup, the big numero tres. I haven’t played the first two Nickelodeon Kart Racers, but I figured it had been too long since I last played a kart game. I loved Mario Kart on the SNES and N64 as a kid but mostly grew out of the genre and moved onto faster, more realistic racers. But there’s something that’s just cuddly about playing as a childhood favorite character, listening to them quip, and drifting around a cartoony track while slamming the other racers with items. Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway doesn’t break new ground, but it offers everything you expect in a neat little package.
Much like most other genre entries, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway has no story mode. It starts with a tutorial where you’re SpongeBob attempting to get his driver’s license, which is cute. Afterward, you have free reign of all the game’s modes. There’s a good amount of single-player content, considering. The big one is the game’s grand prix mode, which is divided into 10 cups with four races each. You have to clear the previous nine to unlock the 10th, but the 10th is made up of four tracks that are in other cups, including two of the ninth cup’s tracks.
But there’s a healthy amount of tracks included, 36 in total, and all inspired by Nickelodeon properties. For instance, there are multiple SpongeBob tracks. All four of the tracks in one cup are inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. The tracks are often varied and well designed, outside of a few pesky outliers. A Ninja Turtles-themed track sees you driving on rooftops. But one of the jumps is spotty and can be impossible to make if you bounce too much from a previous jump. Thankfully, this is an uncommon issue.
Choose your favorite
There are 40 different racers available in Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway, but that’s a teensy bit misleading. There’s both a green and purple Reptar as separate characters. All four Ninja Turtles are here, although Raphael dons his classic (mostly) black and white appearance from the original Eastman-Laird comic. Leo and Raph are both available from the outset, but you’ll have to buy Mikey in the garage and complete all 36 of the races in the time trial mode to unlock Donnie. No other character, save for possibly one, takes as much effort to unlock.
There are also two versions of SpongeBob and Patrick — their usual appearances and their Muppet Babies spin-off ones. The variety of racers does mostly make great use of the Nickelodeon properties, although the properties are a bit unbalanced in terms of representation. There are six SpongeBob characters, five Ninja Turtles characters, four Rugrats characters, and four Avatar characters (if you count Korra, which you should, right?). Meanwhile, only Rocko from Rocko’s Modern Life is playable, as well as Oblina from Aaahh!!! Real monsters, Danny from Danny Phantom, and Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot. And zero classic Fairly OddParents characters! No Cosmo! No Wanda!
The racers all have their own stats, varying by weight, speed, acceleration, and handling. You can also pick whether you want them to drive a specific kart or bike, different components, and paint jobs. All of these (save for the paint jobs) give you a fair amount of control of how your chosen racer performs. Then you get to pick three crew members who give active and passive abilities. There are a ton of these, and they can easily change up the way the game goes from giving you extra boosts to chargeable attacks.
Get your slime on
The kart racing itself is pretty darn good in Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway. The drifting can feel a bit off, but it’s better than I expected once you get a feel for the driving physics. If you drift for long enough, you’ll be able to boost when you let go, just like other kart racers. Orange Nickelodeon blimps line the tracks and give you your items when ran over. Everything here is mostly a different version of the items in other kart racers. The one I hate the most is Hans from SpongeBob which works kind of like the Mario Kart squid, except it blocks you from seeing what’s in front of you. I really can’t stand that arm.
You’ll also throw items via a homing football or an arm in a jack-in-the-box that tosses a pie — cute. You’ll find coins scattered around the tracks that fill up your slime gauge, plus literal slime on the track that if you drive on top of or through will increase your slime gauge. If you fill your gauge up all the way, you can use your active crew power.
But that’s not all. Tracks also have slime slides that you can ride on automatically. All you need to do is jump over the obstacles on the way. Tracks are loaded with shortcuts and ways of getting around that you’ll get accustomed to with familiarity. You get to keep 10 of the slime coins you keep per event, which you can use to purchase new items in the garage. These include racers, crew members, and parts and bodies for your karts (and bikes). The only issue is that the prices are pretty hefty. If you collect 10 coins per race, it can take 17 or more races to buy a single character, which seems a bit much. After fully completing the grand prix mode and doing a bunch of challenges, I only had enough coins for four.
You vs. Squidward
But the challenges do make this a bit easier, as they’re often much shorter and you can use them to farm 10 coins in a minute or less, depending. The challenges put you in a specific kart with a specific character and task you with accomplishing something, such as overtaking all the other karts or pulling off a certain number of stunt jumps. There are six tiers of challenges and completing four in each will unlock a boss battle, which is really just a race against a character you haven’t unlocked. Beat them and the character is yours.
There are even more modes on top of these. There’s the time trial mode, free races, capture the flag, demolition derby, and a multiplayer arena mode. There are multiple game types for the latter, such as one where you must paint more of the floor than the other team.
My biggest problem with Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway definitely comes down to the AI. Getting past everyone aside from the racer in first place is insanely easy regardless of what speed you’ve selected. But whoever’s in first place gets some truly obnoxious rubber-banding. They almost always seem to go faster than you to the point where they get bursts out speed from literally nowhere. As such, I was surprised by how often I got second place. But it’s moot, because the four tracks in each cup will see different racers become your primary threat. Even if you get second place every time, you’re still likely to get first overall.
Still, I like Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway. It’s got a good amount of content, the racing is solid, and the characters and tracks are brimming with personality (and all characters have voice acting!). That all adds up to an easy recommendation for anyone looking for more Nickelodeon kart racing. If the multiplayer scene is active, there could be a real time sink here. And you won’t have to deal with the stupid cheating AI.