It's been about 20 years since the iconic PS1 kart racer Crash Team Racing debuted and it's back with a fresh coat of paint.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled gives the classic game the same treatment that the original games received with Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy a couple of years back. By this, I mean that it's incredibly faithful to the original game while also including a handful of additional features that help make it feel fresh. For starters, the graphics are incredible complete with charming character animations, gorgeous tracks, and an enjoyable sense of speed. Also, the quirky island rhythms that the franchise is known for return which will put a smile on your face as you drive around the lovely courses. The sound effects add a layer of satisfaction, too, with spot-on engine revs and devastating blasts whenever you get hit by a power-up. They really went above and beyond when it comes to presentation.
Of course, the gameplay is what really matters and thankfully, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is as tight, responsive, and fun as the original. Power sliding around corners while earning a few bonus boosts, finding time-saving shortcuts, and unleashing powerful items on your opponents after collecting a full 10 wumpa fruits feels as rewarding as ever. That being said, this remake is a lot more challenging than the original and I find that this is for 2 main reasons. The first is that you seem to hit walls much easier in Nitro-Fueled and the second is that the enemy AI can be exceptionally punishing, especially some of the bosses. As a result, I wish there were more difficulty settings because Easy is way too simple and Normal can be quite daunting for newcomers. I can't personally fathom being able to beat the campaign on Hard difficulty. Either way, it's still an excellent racer that's extremely satisfying to master.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled offers a ton of content in the form of characters and tracks. First of all, there are over a couple dozen characters including the elusive Penta Penguin as well as many characters that I honestly don't recognize even though I've been a Crash Bandicoot fan since the beginning. Anyway, each character has their own base stats including speed, acceleration, and turn but besides that, they don't have any substantial gameplay differences. Meanwhile, the track selection contains all 18 tracks from the original Crash Team Racing, 13 tracks from Crash Nitro Kart, and a bonus track named Retro Stadium. Needless to say, that's a ton of tracks!
One of the best parts of the original is Adventure mode which returns here. As you progress, you'll master regular races, crystal challenges, CTR challenges, and relic race time trials which adds up to one rewarding campaign. Aside from that, you can play Battle mode which consists of a handful of variations as well as different arenas and it's my favourite way to play. The chaos of scrambling around the massive arenas while trying to accomplish certain tasks is great fun. Speaking of fun, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled features online multiplayer which adds a ton of value to the overall package. I may have got my butt kicked but I enjoyed every minute of it.
One thing I wish that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled did a better job of is differentiate itself from the original more. For example, if it incorporated new gameplay elements or included some truly unique modes to set it apart then I would have been very happy. Sure, it has a lot of characters, tracks, and you even earn wumpa coins as you play that you can unlock stuff with including kart customization parts but the core gameplay remains virtually identical. Another aspect that I feel is a missed opportunity is that you can't play with a mix of local and online players. For whatever reason, the Mario Kart games seem like the only kart racers that allow you to do this.
Whether you're a fan of the original or merely kart racers in general, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will surely amaze you with its satisfying gameplay and stunning visuals. That being said, this old beaut could definitely use a slight tune-up.
- + Tight and very challenging kart racing gameplay that's fun to master
- + Looks amazing and sounds great
- + Lots of quirky characters and tracks
- - Doesn't differentiate itself enough from the original game
- - Could use more difficulty settings
- - Can't play with a mix of local and online