Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review
Release Date: June 21st 2019
Platform: PS4, X-Box One and Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled instantly transports one back to 1999 with familiar tracks, a ridiculous (but at least relevant) plot and a total lack for mercy. Bear in mind that Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, is a remaster rather than a remake; the same tracks, power-ups, and gameplay modes are all available along with some new wrinkles. This old dog can still bite, but there are a few things to be aware of, particularly if your home console is the Nintendo Switch.
The first thing to remember is that like many great games CTR hates you. It’s not the absolute soul-crushing loathing of a game like X-COM, but boy are you not getting a Christmas card from this game. By this, I mean a lot of the crutches given to players by the likes of Mario Kart 8 don’t exist in CTR. There are few catch-up items and little AI tweaking to keep the player more or less in the pack of racers. The only players this doesn't apply to are “Boss” characters. These are essentially bungeed to you, if you get too far ahead in a boss race don’t worry, the game will catch them up. As for you, If you fall behind in CTR, you will have to work to catch up. The game also won’t wait for the slowpokes to finish their final lap, once the top three cross the line, it’s game over man. This results in fast and sometimes brutal gameplay, unless you are too far behind, in which case you are forgotten. Remember it hates you.
CTR features Adventure mode, local and online play, five battle modes, and challenge modes building on the 1999 original, The high speed, compared Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, can be a shock to the new player, but it was a welcome joyride for this old CTR fan. The karts are fast, to begin with, but the power-slide mechanics takes that to another level. Power sliding, aka drifting, is a kart racing staple, but CTR has a unique approach to it. The bottom right-hand corner has a HUD-equipped with a turbo meter. Getting these turbo boosts correct is the secret to success in CTR. Here’s how it works: you start a slide and move the joystick in the direction you intend to drift. The meter will fill and, once it turns red, you hit the trigger to perform a boost that speeds you forward, if you wait a bit longer the meter will fill the second section and get you a bigger boost. Do this three times one after another, and you’ll get an even stronger boost.
But wait, theses more, It’s not a kart racer without a power-up, and all 11 of your old CTR favorites are back. You know the drill on most of these, missiles, invincibility and speed, with of course various bombs and potions let you leave your own little obstacle course in your wake and of course the dreaded warp orb. Likewise, you collect wumpa fruits as you go, these function like coins in Mario Kart but, in addition to increasing speed, once you’ve collected 10, your power-ups are boosted as well. To win, you have to bring everything together. If you can’t power-slide, items will not be enough to save you.
There are 31 individual tracks in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled taken from both Crash Team Racing, and it’s a sequel, Crash Nitro Kart. That said, there are only 17 courses available in Adventure mode, all of which come from the original CTR.
Those craving old-school CTR can play in Classic mode with one character from start to finish with a basic kart. The cast is identical to the original and difficulty options non-existent (Moo-ha-ha.)
Nitro-Fueled mode lets you switch characters and karts at will. Being able to swap characters at will.
While some may stick to local or online play, CTR Nitro-Fueled has a single-player Adventure mode across five worlds which can be played in Nitro-Fueled or Classic mode.
In Battle mode, you play across 12 unique courses. Battle mode introduces the Super Engine and Invisibility items. Super Engine just boosts your speed while Invisibility mode makes you invisible except for your tires.
Time trials are straightforward: get the fastest time you can and race ghost versions of yourself. The Crystal Challenge is equally straightforward: grab all the crystals before the clock runs out. Relic Races involve beating a pre-set amount of time – just like the Time Trial, but with an added twist that numbered crates pause the timer for 1, 2, or 3 seconds, respectively. CTR Challenge mode has you collect the letters C, T, and R while also finishing in the first place. The combination of having to find the darn letters, grab them, and win the race against the usual rogue's gallery of CPU players is quite a workout.
Customization is available for karts and characters but doesn’t affect racing. Some of these are unlocked in adventure mode, while others can be purchased with in-game currency earned from racing.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled for the Switch may present some control issues, particularly if you are used to the motion controls of Mario Karts 8 Deluxe. My professional playtesters (My kids) were appalled that they had to use the joystick to steer. In fairness, the controls that were so sleek on the original PlayStation and likely still are on the PS4 are a bit awkward with the Switch Controllers.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled’s fast-pace, lack of catch-up items and superlative memorable track design make it one of the best Kart racers ever, second only to its original incarnation. It’s bigger, brighter and more vibrant than most similar games, but some of the other modes like Adventure can become repetitive and frustrating.
Superlative track design
Not enough variation between modes
Challenging to master