The cartoony kart racer launches tomorrow on PS4.
I’m Adam Johnston, Creative Director at Bamtang games and I’m excited for everyone to start playing the sequel to Nickelodeon Kart Racers! We’ve made a lot of improvements and changes from the first game, and don’t worry – you don’t have to play the first game to understand what’s happening in part two.
The biggest, most obvious upgrade from the first game is the character roster. There are now 30 racers and the Pit Crew adds all kinds of familiar Nickelodeon cameos which creates all kinds of new options. You will be able to unlock 70 Pit Crew members that you can add to your team to customize your kart. That means players can really find their sweet spot on the kart and Pit Crew load out to match their driving style. Also, we gave a lot of love to drifting so now it feels way more rewarding.
Here’s how the Pit Crew works, which represents a big change from the first game. The Crew Chief gives you a primary powerup that replaces the old turbo charge. It is charged by slime, and there is a wide variety of power-up effects to choose from. The other Pit Crew members bring strategic buffs. They kick in automatically during the race and might leave a trap when picking up a power-up, or give a boost after getting hit, as just a few examples. There are a mountain of options. I don’t keep any single strategy for long, there’s always some other combination to try out. When you change your loadout, you have to change your driving style too. If you want to adopt a more defensive loadout, then that means that you can be more aggressive.
Slime is back and we think it’s the thing that sets our kart racer apart, while also being a perfect representation of Nickelodeon. Slime is still your friend! Going for the Green, and filling the Slime bar is one of the best ways to get ahead in the game. The Slime was reworked visually, but otherwise, you’ll still find it splashed all around. The boating part of the first Nickelodeon Kart Racers has been given a rest in the sequel. This time we’ve added Slime Edges. They give the players air, and the chance to pull tricks to get bonus slime and boosts. These really help mix up the race line strategies, depending on the player’s skill (or courage).
When we thought about upgrading the Slime bar we realized that it would be awesome to give the player the option to choose how the Slime will impact the race. After that, we wanted the visual impact to be based on the Nickelodeon characters we love so much, and that’s how the Crew Chiefs were born. Some of the team favorites are Tenzin from The Legend of Korra who uses airbending for a big jump, releasing a shockwave when landing; or Powdered Toast Man from Ren and Stimpy who makes the kart drive backwards, with a turbo boost, and it explodes if it crashes! We had a lot of fun making this game which, coincidentally, extended to track creation.
Most of the original twelve tracks have been remastered with completely updated art, and Slime Rapids. The new tracks complement the old ones, with wider diversity. We think having so many tracks now, there’s more extreme situations. Jumps, half-pipes, cannons, ramps, slime geysers, and other surprises add verticality, which leads to some pretty stressful situations. In Fast mode, you really can’t relax and the Insane mode lives up to its name.
This is a game designed to be fun for all ages, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies that can be employed by more practiced racers. Drifting is still a helpful boost factor, but dominating drifting mechanics or knowing the raceline will only get you so far. Some of the levels were designed to make the player focus on a specific mechanic like drifting or jumping, but there’s no sure way to win every race. We think it’s best to choose a crew that supports your driving style. For example, I would definitely recommend choosing Pearl from SpongeBob SquarePants to anyone that loves performing big jumps and riding the half pipes. She gives you a much stronger turbo boosts after a jump.
It’s not all just straightforward racing, of course. In Arena mode, you battle all of the other players in an open arena. Since SpongeBob is so popular with the fans, we added the Golden Spatula mode. In this mode you have to find the Golden Spatula and keep it long enough to earn a point. The other players will be looking to make you drop it. The first player who gets three points takes all the glory.
This sequel also adds up to 8 player online multiplayer modes. Either in quick races, or in championship cup races. It’s kind of weird, but we finished this game during the pandemic, so almost all of the testing has been online. Back in the unhygienic old days, we used to play each other sitting next to each other on the couch, split screen. Now we had to set up online sessions to play each other, so online play is probably the core experience now.
One of the most fun parts of creating this game, and the excitement of getting into the hands of players, is seeing how everyone reacts differently to the roster. There are the nostalgic players, like me, who like seeing and playing as the classics, but there is a whole new generation of Nickelodeon fans who gravitate towards different racers. Having Ren and Stimpy in Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 is fantastic, but most of the young’uns have never heard of them.
I’m embarrassed to say that I am so old that I had never heard of Jojo Siwa, but she is maybe one of the most popular racers with younger players. There is also a game mode (spoiler alert!) where the players have to complete challenges with specific characters and they were inspired by the things those characters usually do in their series. If the players know who those characters are, they will understand why they have to do those challenges. Only the true fans will know that there’s no coincidence in asking you to play as Squidward and win a race full of Squidwards. We really had a ton of fun by making these challenges, and the rest of the game, and we’re looking forward to playing online with everyone on October 6!