While technically it’s in my job description to be knowledgeable in all games releasing on Xbox, I normally turn a blind eye to games that primarily target the child demographic. Not only are more of them more hassle than they’re worth—aka being a miserable experience that rewards very few clicks—but they’re sometimes surprisingly hard for us to track down and get our hands on them.
On today’s Face Off we have two of them: A Kart Racer and a game that can only be described as a combination of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Splatoon. Only one of these games can win in the battle for our readers’ wallets and, in this very special case, my sanity.
Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a game as straightforward as its wholly unoriginal name. Taking the adored licenses of SpongeBob, Hey Arnold, Rugrats and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, developers Bamtang Games have created a barebones and miserable experience that I could only recommend to a parent if I either hated their child or thought it was the anti-Christ.
There are only nine characters to control—four of which are reskinned Ninja Turtles—and throughout numerous hours with the game, I couldn’t notice any conceivable difference in control between any of them. Instead, you upgrade your karts using universally unlockable components in the game’s shop section. Parts can be bought with coins that’re earned through completing races. Paint jobs can be unlocked by racing a “Victory Lap” after leveling up.
With Nickelodeon Kart Racers as its competitor, Crayola Scoot could win anything from a gaming BAFTA to a Nobel Peace Prize. Upon starting the game, I was greeted with a basic character selection screen, cheery music and a short but sweet tutorial—something Nickelodeon Kart Racers would spit at the idea of. I called my character Crayola Scoo, because I couldn’t fit in the “t”, and I made her paint color red, so I could pretend I was scooting through the blood of my rival scooters.
It only took a few minutes of playing to get to grasp with the way that Crayola Scoot controls. It’s not as weighty as its inspiration—Tony Hawk—but it feels good enough. There’s a lot of float, enough to flip six times in the air, perform a finger twirl and finish with the one true sin: a sick dab. Performing tricks just earn you points like in Tony Hawks, it also leaves a large splash paint on the areas you do them – just like in Nintendo’s Splatoon.
Crayola Scoot does feature a lot of modes, at least in comparison. Kart Racers has a Grand Prix and Time Trials. Scoot features modes that focus on combos, item collection, solo and team versions of literally Splatoon and a round-based “get the best combo” mode. There’s variety here. While it doesn’t feature as many locations as Kart Racer’s impressive 21 tracks, the locations here are better realized and used for more than just racing.
While they are both games that focus on movement, there’s only one here that really feels enjoyable to control. Nickelodeon Kart Racers is the definition of “too loose”. Drifting around corners and boosting over gaps is unreliable pretty much all the time; one map has an after-corner jump that must be hit perfectly straight or else your character will inevitably be thrown into the depths. There are three speed settings: Mind-numbingly slow, Barely Tolerable, and The Only Real Setting You Should Ever Play On.
In both games, there’s a boost function and they work in similar ways. In Scoot, you can earn more boost by scooting over your own paint. Boost allows you to speed across the map to gather crayons in the game’s collection mode or simply to extend your combo. While it may sound insanely silly, running out of momentum during a long grind and then boosting to gain said momentum back is a very satisfying thing to do.
Nickelodeon Shart Racers’ boost mechanic is eerily similar. Instead of paint, you earn boost by driving over the iconic Nickelodeon slime. It’s easy enough to get your head around but boosting does require an exercise in patience. Activating your boost can cause your kart to become wildly uncontrollable, especially when moving around corners. Instead, you’re more likely to use the game’s drift function which not only helps you slide in and out of corners as easily as the driving physics will allow—not that easily as it so happens—but also gives you a speed boost when you let off the button. As Gran Turismo taught me: slow in, fast out.
With the backing of Nickelodeon behind it, there should be a considerable amount of decent music, sound effects and voice acting in the company’s official racer. Now, read that sentence again. Spot that? “Should be”.
In reality, Nickelodeon Kart Racers feels like being dipped inside the world’s dullest sensory deprivation tank. Its horrendous midi soundtrack is met with thoughtless kart sounds and not even a peep from its all-star cast. Reptar doesn’t roar—not even when being coated in slime at the end of a Grand Prix; the TMNTs don’t even say, “Shelltacular”. That’s a crime.
The poppy, spunky tunes of Crayola Scoot somehow managed to bring me back from the cusp of insanity. Its sound effects aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re there and they’re noticeable. Grinding has feedback, every character has their own sounds. Whether I’m facing off against the Colour Cup Scooters in the game’s many “story” missions or just playing in the arcade’s local multiplayer options, there’s always enjoyable sounds to please my ears.
Face Off might be a new format for this site, but I feel that we here at MSPoweruser may have already seen the biggest quality differential we’ll ever see in this series. Nickelodeon Kart Racers, frankly, isn’t good – at all. It lacks in every aspect, but I do genuinely believe that there is potential in a version of this game that is given the budget and attention it deserves.
Crayola Scoot, on the other hand, is a fantastic little kids’ game. It’s not the most complex and it should be easy enough for young kids to play through, although, harder difficulties do tend to teach you who really is the Scoot Legend. Spoiler: it’s not you. It’s a great piece of software and even manages to look really nice, especially on Xbox One X.
Outside of Minecraft and the LEGO games, I can really say that Crayola Scoot is one of the best kids’ games this generation. It’s full to the brim with fun and joy, and I can make my character wear a Witch’s hat after I combo the crap out of a Cat-Witch. You should have used those spells, Katya!
I try not to be transparent throughout my work but, if you can’t tell, I loved every second of Crayola Scoot. It’s one of those games that you look at and go: “Wow, I really wish I had that as a kid. I would have loved that!” Which is a feeling I get whenever I see something mildly cool. If you’re buying a game for a young kid, please, don’t let it be Nickelodeon Kart Racers – make the right choice. Make them join me as The God of Scoot.