We all have the need for speed, but some deserve it more than others. Mario Kart was a game changer, giving casual gamers a real racer genre to sink their teeth into. Since it was so kid-friendly, many knockoffs were pumped out to take advantage of “Kart-mania”, with some results being better than others.
The problem with licensing is sometimes the license is more important than any thought being put into the game. This is why you get characters and IPs that don’t really fit into the kart racing universe, but game publishers release these weird games anyway.
10/10 Nicktoons Racing
Nickelodeon had some fantastic shows back in the 1990s, although sometimes they were misunderstood. Despite this, we don’t think anyone was pining for a racing game with the cast of Rugrats, Hey Arnold and Cat Dog. The real crime is SpongeBob was relegated to the background on the PlayStation game cover, even though he is probably the marquee Nicktoon now.
Versions of this game were released for the arcade, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Windows and Game Boy Color, because apparently this game needed lots of ports. It spawned a series of Nickelodeon racing games that you have probably never heard of unless you’re buying something for your younger cousin for Christmas.
9/10 Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway
Nobody asked for a Kart Racer featuring an Ogre from the Middle Ages, but here we are. The popular Dreamworks IP got crammed into a Game Boy Advance racer that received terrible reviews. It’s actually considered one of the worst kart racers of all time.
Shrek is an entertaining subversion of expectations when it comes to fairy tales. But instead of subverting this time, the game developers used the same formula as Mario Kart: Super Circuit but with Shrek. The game had bad controls and ran sluggish. The graphics look dull and muddy. The soundtrack will make your ears burn. And the worst part? It spawned more Shrek racing games.
8/10 Antz Extreme Racing
Remember the Dreamworks version of A Bug’s Life? Yeah, well, they turned that into a racing game in 2002 — four years after the movie came out as to really ride that Antz hype.
Since this was the early 2000s, they had to have the racers snowboarding, surfing and running too, because ants can do extreme sports as well. The game got poor reviews, and much like Antz (even though it was probably a better movie than A Bug’s Life), everyone promptly forgot about it.
7/10 M&M Kart Racing
In the effort for more shovel ware to be released on the Nintendo Wii, M&M Kart Racing made an appearance in 2007. People get the exciting choice of choosing M&Ms that are the same shape. It’s considered one of the worst video games of all time, with critics saying it might discourage people from eating M&Ms. The Wii’s motion controls made it tough to control, and most of this game was a ripoff of Mario Kart anyway.
6/10 Pocketbike Racer
Believe it or not, Pockbike Racer was one of three video games sold at Burger King as an advertising ploy. In this game, you could race as The King from Burger King, Chicken and Whopper Jr’s and Brooke Burke along with a biker and some vanilla racer types.
It was released for both the Xbox and Xbox 360 and solid in franchise locations for $3.99. While considered a pale impression of Mario Kart, reviewers said the game was amusing as you could race as a burger. Weirdly enough, the release of three video games caused Burger King’s sales to increase by 40 percent.
5/10 Garfield Kart Racer
The sleeping king of Sunday comics apparently had to be put in his own Kart racing game long after newspapers and Garfield reached peak popularity in the 1990s. It’s Mario Kart with the cup names being Lasagna, Pizza and Hamburger. It also fulfills the dream of all gamers to play as John Arbuckle.
Garfield Kart was released in 2013 on computers, mobiles and on the Nintendo 3DS to terrible reviews. Garfield is pretty marketable, however, and does have a library of video games. It should come as no surprise then that Garfield Kart Racer spawned a sequel in 2019 that was actually quite good, Garfield Kart: Furious Racing.
4/10 Hello Kitty Cruisers And Hello Kitty Racing 3D
Hello Kitty is one of the best-selling IPs of all time, so naturally another way to get more money was to make a Kart racing game. Hello Kitty Kruisers was released on the Wii U in 2014 and featured Mario Kart play, but with bad hit detection and poor driver AI that would get stuck in walls.
Over on the Nintendo 3DS, Hello Kitty Racing was released in Europe and Japan.
3/10 Star Wars Super Bombad Racing
Star Wars Episode One Racer is a beloved game that even got a re-release on the Nintendo Switch and other platforms. Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing, however, is the Jar Jar Binks of games. It has got to be one of the weirdest racing entries of a major IP, and this list has Hello Kitty Racing on it.
The racing Star Wars characters are depicted with huge heads and small bodies. Released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, after two years of development, ports to other consoles and computers were planned, but sales were so poor, these were canceled.
2/10 Inspector Gadget Racing
Considering Inspector Gadget could be used in so many other genres of video games, it’s weird that it was thought a racing game would best fit the IP.
To be fair, this was a decent game on the Game Boy Advance, and had a nice colorful look on the screen. But why not make an Inspector Gadget RPG where you could upgrade his gadgets, or some kind of puzzle game? Racing doesn’t appear to fit this IP at all.
1/10 South Park Rally
In the year 2000, South Park was a hot commodity, so naturally people took a brash, mature cartoon series and turned it into a kiddy race kart racing video game. South Park Rally was released on numerous platforms at the time, and was received so poorly, they didn’t make another South Park game for 13 years.
It was considered a poor Mario Kart 64 clone but somehow, though, it still sold a million copies.
NEXT: Game Series That Need a Racing Game Spinoff