After Activision successfully remade the first three Crash Bandicoot games with the N. Sane Trilogy, they decided to also bring back his legendary kart-racer with Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Often compared to Mario Kart when it was first released in 1999, Crash Team Racing held its own against Nintendo’s kart-racer. A lot has changed in the past 20 years, and Mario Kart has been consistently good throughout that time. Does Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled still hold its own against the Italian plumber?
While CTR does have many similarities to Mario Kart, it still feels vastly different. For one, CTR has an Adventure Mode for fans of single-player. An alien known as Nitrous Oxide visits Crash’s planet and challenges the fastest driver there to a race. If he wins, he gets to destroy the planet. You can choose to play the Adventure Mode with a single character like the original game, or you could swap between characters and karts any time in the overworld. This comes in handy as different characters have their own unique stats. Crash has a healthy balance of Speed, Acceleration, and Handling, but other characters are better at one stat more than others. You drive within the overworld to portals that lead to races. After you complete the race in first place, other challenges open up in that stage, such as time trials and collecting CTR emblems. Every task after the race is quite challenging, even on the Medium difficulty. Even the races themselves are still challenging on Medium. The races will try to keep you in 3rd place as often as possible, because there will always be 2 racers that put up more of a fight than the other CPUs. Personally, this was a constant irritation for me, as I’ve had to repeat the same races up to 5 times. That isn’t to say players won’t enjoy the extra challenge, but I seriously wonder how I was able to beat the game back when I was 5 years old.
Graphically, the remake looks stunning. Because more backgrounds and assets appear on screen than in the linear levels of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the image definitely pops more in your face. That said, I did wish this game ran at 60fps, especially on my PS4 Pro. You can only play this game at 60 fps on PC. Considering it is a kart racer that goes really fast, it’s kind of surprising that the developers at Beenox didn’t make that a priority. Fortunately it runs at a constant 30 fps with no framerate lag whatsoever so I got over this rather quickly.
CTR also includes an online component allowing you to race against friends and strangers. In my experience, I haven’t run into any connection problems or long wait times for matches. You can imagine though that if I have a tough time with Adventure Mode races then I’ll have an even tougher time with online ones. Well, this is true.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a welcome return of the spin-off racing franchise. Even though the “N. Sane” challenge of the Adventure Mode is a turn-off for me, I recognize that even more skilled players than I would enjoy this game for it. The characters are diverse, the art-style is gorgeous, and the tracks themselves have great variety in their design. Now get out there and drive! Just try not to crash.