Hey Plumber Boy, here’s some real kart racing competition for you. With Vicarious Visions bringing new life to the Crash franchise, with the Crash N.Sane Trilogy back in 2017, many fans were definitely questioning the franchise’s future, and whether or not we would see our favourite bandicoot behind the wheel again. That question was all depending on the success of the remastered trilogy, and whether or not Activision wanted to invest in bringing back the orange furred marsupial mascot, that all PlayStation fans once adored in the early 90’s. Well, not only did the trilogy temper doubts for Activision, but it exceeded all expectations, with the N.Sane Trilogy doing insane numbers. The N.Sane Trilogy was the best selling exclusive launch for PlayStation 4 in the U.K., beating out Horizon: Zero Dawn. The game has sold over 10 Million copies worldwide, seeing the biggest launch of a video game in the first half of 2017. These are numbers for a 20 year-old title, that has been remastered. Same gameplay, new lick of paint. Yet, it shows that some video game franchises are forever timeless, and yes, it includes Crash Team Racing. While the success of the Trilogy saw a remaster in Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, fans were still clamoring for their beloved kart racer to make it’s long awaited return. Well, here we are. Almost 20 years later, we are here with the remastered release of Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled.
Developed by Beenox, a subsidiary development studio from Activision who recently bought us the remastered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but has experience in making games for all audiences, such as the Skylanders franchise, Guitar Hero, and The Amazing Spider-Man series, before it was handed to Insomniac. Now set with the task of remastering arguably the best kart racer of the late 90’s (yes, Crash Team Racing was better than Mario Kart 64), would Beenox be able to pull this off? Originally developed by globally renowned studio Naughty Dog, and when I mean global, I almost mean household name these days, ND’s rich history behind the franchise, stems as far as idea’s being put into current efforts, as recent as the Uncharted series (literally putting one of the levels into Uncharted 4), and The Last of Us. It’s amazing how small ideas can become one of the biggest pioneer’s for your company’s success. With Naughty Dog’s full support behind restoring and reviving the Crash Franchise, remastering such a well renowned title for PlayStation fans needed to be treated with respect and care. With Vicarious Visions scoring a perfect landing, it’s now time to see if Beenox could duplicate the Trilogy’s fate, and capture the same nostalgic bug from fans who were in absolute delight of the original, Crash Team Racing.
Before jumping into the plot, which is very light in this instance as a kart racer, I will mention that not only do we get the original 17 tracks from the PS1 release, but we get the additional 14 tracks from the PlayStation 2 sequel Crash Nitro Kart. That’s a whopping 31 tracks, with 35 racers at your disposal. Now that I have mentioned that, Adventure Mode brings you right back to N.Sanity Beach, with Nitrus Oxide preparing to take over the world. Oxide challenges you and your favourite cast of careless creatures to race for the fate of the planet. If you collect all trophy’s and win, you get to keep “your miserable little rock”, but if Oxide wins, he get’s to turn Earth into one massive parking lot. Man, to be a child again and hearing this dialogue. Speaking of which, the remastered cutscenes are visually stunning here, and bring a new twist with each one shown. While most cutscenes from the original title saw each Boss at a standstill, trying to antagonise you in their “lazy-boy” position, sitting in their karts, the new cutscenes here see each boss with their original dialogue bring more attitude to their characters, actually making for a new experience through your time in adventure mode. Depth wise though, not much more is added, just a fresh coat of paint which is fine.
Same could be said once again here about gameplay too. If you’re a fan of the original title, then you’re going to love it. Whisking through Adventure mode to quickly collect trophy’s is a breeze for those who are experienced, and have muscle memory for the original Crash Team Racing tracks. In fact, going through my trophy run of Adventure mode only took roughly two hours to complete. I honestly forgot how short Adventure mode really was. But with added bonuses of Achievements and Trophies for XBOX and PlayStation owners, will not only extend your time with Adventure mode, but will breathe new life into the title. Other than a fresh look to the title, some additional dialogue, new sounds, and a somewhat remastered soundtrack that is so close to the original, it honestly had me questioning at times whether they did remaster it, gameplay wise, there’s nothing new here. It’s the exact same game, you have had sitting in your closet for the last 20 years now. It’s not a bad thing though, you will get the same thrills and spills you did playing the original title. However, Crash Nitro Kart on the other hand, oh brother. I dare say, my memories of Crash Nitro Kart on the PlayStation 2 were not positive at all, and once again, it rears it’s ugly head into the mix here.
Surprisingly, developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Universal Studios, Crash Nitro Kart was the “unofficial” sequel to Crash Team Racing. Crash Nitro Kart was, to say the least, trying to hard. It was innovative that they were the first to try and dive into “zero gravity” kart racing, but it was not the time, nor the place to be doing it. Crash Nitro Kart’s lack of any creativity, or design really did hurt the Crash Kart racing series in the long run, with only another forgotten sequel to be released a few years later in “Crash Tag Team Racing”. Unfortunately, even with Crash Nitro Kart’s tracks being available for all to experience here in the remaster, it’s terribly paced, lack of depth-in-design still shows. There are moments within tracks from this title, that I was sitting there completely confused of which way to go, or why the road was so wide and had sharp turns that the AI could not even complete. Understandably, trying to justify it’s remaster, and release and “extended” Crash Team Racing experience, rather than just giving us the original 17 tracks, Beenox wanted players to have more. However, in this instance, rather than having Crash Nitro Kart, a handful of original tracks developed by this team would have been more of a delight here. But trust me, this does not take any points away from this title.
Having the option to go through the game at your own pace is great. Selecting the Local Arcade option from the Main Menu, and choosing Single Race let’s you sit back, and enjoy racing at your leisure with the CPU, or a friend. Selecting Cup Race, has you hitting the road in similar fashion to Adventure Mode, only that you may race with friends in a four-track race to the finish. Battle Mode lands you into the battle royale, it’s survival of the quickest and toughest. There are other options to explore here in Local Arcade, which expands on the new features that are bought to the remaster which is awesome. And of course, we have online. The one option we all have been waiting for. For all the years you have betted with mate’s about how great you were at Crash Team Racing, it’s time to take all those Pizza Bets to the bank, and burn rubber. You can have up to 8-players race online, similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch.
Nitro Fueled brings some customisation options to the game, being able to change kart designs, the colour of your kart, labeling your kart with your favourite stickers, changing wheels, and adding them fancy rims, and being able to choose from a range of skins for your characters, gives a little more depth here making sure you’re the fanciest racer amongst your mates. Design overall though is impressive. Redesigning an already framed out world, that is not only already established and familiar to fans, but bringing a whole new dynamic to each track sound like a hard feat, but Beenox have gracefully mastered this to perfection. It’s incredibly detailed, and looks absolutely stunning. The game’s soundtrack stays true to the original’s in every way. From the main menu, to adventure mode’s ever changing maps through each world, it’s incredibly well done. It almost fooled me into thinking that they lifted the whole soundtrack from the original, and just plastered it right into the remaster. But going through the soundtrack with earphone’s on, I did notice all the subtle changes made, and how well the soundtrack had been remastered here. Incredible.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is awesome. It’s the nostalgic ride that we’ve been waiting for, and it’s now here for all Crash fans, young and old. With a few minor exceptions here, I can definitely say that you’re in for a wild ride. The question of which kart racer is best will always be up in the air. However, if the Mario Kart series ever needed a run for it’s money, Crash Team Racing could surely set itself at the starting line once again, and we could see who could come out the victor. But for the time being, having an old kart racer like CTR, drive itself back into our lives, is definitely welcome. Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is well worth the pick-up if you’re looking to go back to the days of old, and experience classic kart racing, even online with your mates this time. It does prove something though, even with a new lick of paint, Crash Team Racing still holds up to today’s standards of kart racers.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled – Activision