Cars, tech, games… You name it, I’ll probably love it.
Crash Team Racing, the loveable arcade style kart racer was originally released in September 1999. I spent many a hour staying up to complete the game and unlock some of the fun hidden secrets in game. So, it comes as no surprise that Beenox and Activision’s remaster has got me up doing the same thing.
Making its bold return on July 21st, the team has resurrected one of my favourite childhood games, along with its sequel: Crash Nitro Kart.
I’ve spent the last 2 weeks getting to grips with the game. To any CTR veteran, the transition was seamless.
Disclaimer: there may be some small spoilers ahead, if you’re looking for a fresh experience then I’d recommend playing the game before reading.
VIDEO: Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled – 10 Minutes of Gameplay
As a PlayStation veteran, I never really got to play other platform’s titles like Super Mario and its karting equivalent. So, growing up I had the alternative: Crash Bandicoot.
How Does It Play?
Crash Team Racing was released in the PlayStation 1 era – a time where gameplay nearly always trumped graphics. So, it comes as no surprise that Nitro Fueled has followed suit.
It’s hard to really spot any differences in the way the mechanics work. Sliding and boosting has almost the exact same feel to it. This is good, after all it is a remaster of the original.
Adventure Mode brings back the main CTR experience, tying in all the familiarities from the PS1 original. It makes single player feel a lot more interactive than say, jumping from menu to menu and race to race. It takes away that linearity and gives you a chance to adjust yourself to the controls before starting any race.
Powering up during races can be a make or break deal for the rest of the race. And trust me when I say they’ve managed to make already stressful races even more stressful.
Somehow, races have become much more challenging than they were in the original. Maybe it’s because of the elimination of certain speed-running techniques, or possibly, because they intended on making it challenging. And that’s not a bad thing, tactics and techniques change over time. This gives you a chance to re-learn how to take appropriate actions during a race.
The art of boosting seems to be the most sure way of winning some races. The core mechanic has been reworked so well, there’s several indications as to when a boost will be ready. But, most notably, the addition of the glowing tyres to let you know the boost is ready. As well as this, the style of gauges can be changed to your liking to help with these boosts.
This is the kind of thing that will help you throughout adventure mode, especially when facing the terribly unbalanced boss races… Pinstripe, I’m looking at you.
Yes, as frustrating as they can be, Boss Races do a great job in being confronting. A few times I found myself at those edge of the seat moments where my heart was racing while inching towards the finish line on the final lap. Out of frustration, once or twice, I’d even quit the game. Only to come back later and repeat.
There’s a brilliant sense of relief when winning these races. It’s rewarding. Just how boss races should be…
But, if you’re looking for frustration there’s always more…
Relic races? Token races? Sure, they’re simple enough. But it’s the crystal challenges that always bugged me from day one. In fact, they still do.
Each of the themed adventure mode crystal challenges are unlocked after beating the boss of each region. You’d like to think that they’re just a simple “coffee break” challenge. Quite the opposite, in fact.
A race against the clock to collect all of the crystals on the court… with a twist! Avoid the obstacles… duh.
As much as I’d like to think the original game’s idea was “fun and original”, it’s more of a dumb and lame approach to filling in the gaps. Still, if you’re aiming for that 100% elite title, then go ahead.
Amongst new features to the game, customisation is certainly the most notable. Original players may know the single most punishing fact of the original game… “I wish my character could have the same kart as that character”.
I, for example, always loved Ripper Roo’s kart… and the only way I was able to play as him was through the arcade mode.
Fortunately, you can play as any character you want by switching to them in the customisation menu. As well as this, you can now get creative with how you want your kart to look. Want a buggy with a rotary engine in the back? no problem. Want Crash’s fur to be purple? we got you covered, bro.
Ah, yes, of course. How could we forget about online features? Whether online multiplayer games can be seen as either a quick cash grab for pretty much every Call of Duty game or a blessing for connecting players around the world is for you to decide.
To my surprise, I’ve found the online community to be quite vibrant. It feels like an average game you’d play between friends without the cussing of some other online communities.
With the recent addition of the Grand Prix mode, it gives you more of an incentive to enter into online races. Which, in my opinion, is brilliant for replayability purposes. It also gives me some hope with regular updates there’ll be more content for players to enjoy.
There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Beenox have helped recreate one of the most beloved kart racers of its time. The game may have not had the same hype that most of its competitors has previously had, but with its recent updates and planned content it’s easy to see it is vastly improving.
At an average price in the UK of around £30, it’s also hard not to buy it.
But what should you do? It’s always hard for me to answer this because everyone’s taste is so varied. But, put it this way, if you love racing games and ESPECIALLY love arcade racers then you shouldn’t have to think of it. Just buy it, give it a try, if you don’t like it then either get a refund or re-sell it. But to be honest, there aren’t many reasons I can think of why you would actually hate the game.
But to those of you who don’t like racing games, or, at least prefer realism in their racing games, then you might want to give it a pass.
That being said, if you’re looking to revisit not just one, but two nostalgia driven games it’s definitely worth looking into. Remember, you’re getting all of the content from Crash Team Racing and all the tracks and characters from Crash Nitro Kart.