Having proven their worth in remaking classics with their Crash Bandicoot Trilogy re-release late last year, the potential of pushing the goodwill of gamers when a remake was announced for Crash Team Racing was high. A beloved karting game, it was originally released on the PS1. Way back in 1999 and was the go to karting game for those who didn’t play Nintendo consoles. Simply put it was a viable alternative to the Mario Kart series.
Nostalgia is a funny thing, turning what was a very good karting game into an all time classic. The noise that was made when this was announced was on the same level of the announcement of the Resident Evil 2 remake. Odd.
Not because Crash Team Racing wasn’t worthy of the remake treatment. Far from it, it was very welcome especially following the impressive N.sane Trilogy. However, it was and still is a karting game, a style of racing that has been perfected and owned by Nintendo for many years.
There are no innovations to be found, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled uses the blueprint laid out but does it very, very well.
There’s a story. It’s not much of a story but it is there and it sees Crash and all the gang (villains included) team up to try and stop the nefarious plans of Nitros Oxide. He demands to face off against the best racer Earth has in a ‘winner take all’ race. It’s up to Crash and a myriad of characters from the series so far to race against each other. All to determine just who should face off against the evil alien.
Choose a character and kart and get racing!
Split across hubs, players must enter portals to take part in races where coming in first will earn a trophy. These trophies are then used to unlock the boss door of that specific hub. Defeat them in a one on one race to earn a key which is then used to unlock the door to the next hub. Do this over and over again until you finally reach the final boss, Nitros Oxide.
It’s incredibly simple and straightforward, exactly as a karting game should be. Play it and you’ll be transported back in time with lovely bright colourful visuals, familiar tracks and rewarding gameplay.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled looks fantastic and it plays even better. 31 tracks (17 in Adventure), a huge amount of characters to swap between and the right amount of challenge from very competent AI. This is the karting game for non-Nintendo players.
All of that would have been enough to satisfy most but Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled has more. Some welcome additions that flesh out the overall replay value. Beyond trying to get all the platinum relics in the time trial modes. Or playing some of the other challenge modes/multiplayer modes. It’s great to see couch multiplayer included here too.
Karts and characters can be customised, earned in adventure mode and bought by spending ‘Wumpa Coins’ in the Pit Stop. These coins are earned in game and as of right now, there is no real money spend involved (and it better stay that way). None of these customisations affect gameplay, they’re just nice additions although stickers and paint-jobs are pretty pointless.
It’s so much fun to play and very fast. Faster when you master the ability to power slide too. It does result in some really frantic races and you’ll find yourself never quite running away with a race on every difficulty but easy.
Everyone will have their own personal favourite character even if the differences between each is minor. Instead like all good karting games, it’s all about mastering boosts and using weapons effectively, both offensive and defensive.
Then we have the wonderful variety in tracks, taken from all over the Crash Bandicoot franchise. From underwater tubes, to beach fronts, to lava covered temples and more. The tracks are equally glorious to look at while really offering challenge and variety.
It’s a triumph of a remaster/remake however, it’s not faultless.
The lengthy loading times are puzzling as the game is sleek everywhere else. While they’re not the worst you’ll see, your fun is interrupted by these screens far too much.
Casual players may not have as much fun as seasoned gamers. The AI can be very tough and the random nature of items can see you go from 1st to last in an instant. Mastering turbo-sliding for boosts is a must and that is likely to cause some frustration.
Then we have the rubber-banded boss battles. These were an issue in 1999 and they’re not changed. They’re fast, too fast and you’ll spend most of the one on one races lagging behind while they drop an infinite supply of whatever weapon they use. Expect some serious hair-pulling races when it comes to these ones. Simply put, it’s cheap.
Overall though, Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled takes a classic and improves upon it in every way. If you loved it back in 1999 then this is a must buy. If you’re new to it and fancy an alternative to Mario Kart then it is a must buy.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
The Final Score - 8/10