Monetizing the nostalgia is nothing new, but the process seems to have been accelerated in this current generation of consoles. HD restaurants and “built from-the-ground-up” make the remnants of the shop shelves from the waste, and we are invariably happy to shake up these colorful memories of our gaming past. Occasionally these are ways to mine our memories for money, but other times they give old gems the polish they need to shine again. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is, fortunately, the latest, and thanks to modern updates in the right places, it feels as good today as it did 20 years ago. This is our Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review.
1. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review: AboutNext Section
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Beenox
- Publisher: Activision
- Genres: Kart racing game
- Release Date: June 20, 2019
2. Official TrailerNext Section
3. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review: GameplayNext Section
The original list of 18 tracks has been expanded to include 13 others from the sequel, Crash Nitro Kart, offering a comprehensive list of topographically and visually distinct tracks, from underwater tunnels to ice caves and desert pyramids. These images have also been given a facelift, of course, and although no track looks terrible, some look particularly beautiful. Coco Park, for example, has beautiful pink flowers on the other side of the road.
The steering takes some getting used to, mind you. For anyone who has played Mario Kart in recent years, for example, the power slides of Crash Team Racing will feel unmistakably strange, sometimes too sensitive, and sometimes not responsive. And this leads to quite a few missed crates or rear-end collisions with stationary objects. But once you’ve met the mechanic – who requires you to hold one bumper to drift off and press the other with the right timing to get a push – it turns out he’s of greater depth than comparable turning methods in other kart-drivers.
You can chain these boosts for faster acceleration, so while it’s harder to get a grip on the power of Crash Team Racing, the power sliding nets are more important rewards for those willing to dance with the drifting devil. Nitro-Fueled power-ups are the other obstacles on your way to the finish. They’re derived from Mario Kart’s selection – Crash’s green cups are Mario’s bananas, Crash’s Aku Aku and Uka Uka are Mario’s Super Star, and so on – but, once again, Crash Team Racing provides an exciting twist.
Collecting Wumpa Fruit speeds you up and gives you a turbo-charged boost to your power-ups. Green cups transform into the more deadly red cups, TNTs – which can be shaken off – become the instantly exploding Nitros, and so on. When power-ups, boost pads, and handling are combined, Nitro-Fueled has an exhilarating sense of speed. However, these power-ups become occasionally frustrating during CTR’s Adventure mode, where you come first in every race in addition to some optional challenges such as beating certain times or collecting a certain number of crystals.
On each track, except for a few tricky races, you’re bound to win until you get to the boss battles, which feel a little unfair as the bosses are faster than any other playable character and have unlimited power-ups. Over time, yet another run ruined by another bomb, it’s enough to disable Adventure – if only until you’re in the mood for that triumphant adrenaline rush, that boss battles do evoke. In an attempt to modernize the mode, Beenox has added a Nitro variant of Adventure.
This enables you to switch characters between races and adjust the difficulty level, resolving the more annoying moments of the campaign. If you prefer the more punitive, “authentic” way of progressing, you can do the same. Fortunately, the game is automatically saved after each race, although those giant green screens are still there if you want to save for the sake of the old days. The nitro fuel model solves many of Adventure’s problems, allowing the challenges, relics, and crystals of the campaign to encourage lonely players to keep coming back.
Apart from Adventure, there are, of course, the standard single races or mugs, but also an extensive Battle mode. Within this are varied game modes such as Capture the Flag and a Battle Royale-style Last Kart Driving. These are fun, but the relative lack of players (up to eight, including AI in the local game) limits the chaos somewhat, so races can sometimes feel a bit lifeless. After a day of the patch, online races can be easily found and run more smoothly than before.
However, some lobbies suffer from half a second delay – you’ll only blow yourself up for a fraction of a second before your bomb nemesis comes into view. In addition to Adventure mode, the character adjustment has also been modernized. As in the 1999 game, you can select characters depending on your preference for higher top speed, faster acceleration, or better control.
However, you can now also change the look of your kart and character, with a selection of skins, badges, paint jobs, outfits, and all-new karts and karts to choose from. These are unlocked through regular play, but can also be purchased with in-game currency through the store. While mechanically meaningless, they add a nice bit of flavor – and some of the outfits are pretty cool. My favorites are Robo-Cortex and the cute Fisherman Polar.
4. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled ReviewNext Section
Nitro-Fueled maintains the spirit and rock-solid foundations of a childhood favorite while building on it and modernizing it where necessary – even if it takes a bit of getting used to the controls. The classic variant of Adventure mode feels a bit harsh, but your first race on Roo’s Tubes or Sewer Speedway will give you a nostalgic grin anyway. As nostalgia fades, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remains fun and engaging enough to keep you racing with a smile on your face for much longer.