Review – Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

3... 2... 1... Crash, Crash, CRASH!

Playstation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Switch

Developer: Beenox

Publisher: Activision

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Switch

Genre: Racing

Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)

Price: $39.99

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a wacky, kart racer featuring every—and I mean every—character from the Crash Bandicoot franchise. It is a remaster that many fans want, with some new improvements such as online multiplayer, various skins, stickers, racer additions, new tracks, game modes, and quality of life enhancements. After adding something new over eight months time, CTR:NF has nearly doubled the content it started with.  

Content

This game is rated E 10+, and everything about this game is clean.

Review

During E3 2018, the original makers of Crash Bandicoot, Naughty Dog, discussed the franchise’s legacy. Crash Team Racing is the first racer in the series, and the final nail in its coffin before they move on and work on other projects—that is, Jak and Daxter. But Crash fans celebrate this fourth installment, and it becomes a huge success. 

The irony of that multiplies with our new remastered version twenty years later. Activision used their time to bring this game into the shiny, chrome-covered future. CTR:NF is a valiant addition to kart racing game night with friends and family.

Best Crash Racer Ever?

The best parts are all here. The tracks, story mode, multiplayer, cup challenges, and time trials are all lifted from the original and from the sequel, Crash Nitro Kart. Items in boxes—such as homing missiles, explosive potions, and bowling bombs—can help give you an edge against other racers. The tracks are perfectly reconstructed as they originally were, along with some graphical updates to bring the stages to life. 

Here is a picture of a ‘class’ on the side of the Papu’s Pyramid track.

But what makes Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled special, is keeping the unique engine that made the old model unique. However, newcomers and veterans alike may not know that the hemi comes fused.

The controls are tight and responsive. Players race around the track with access to a little hop which can give some air on jumps, and help shake the ticking TNT crates off. Another trick is drifting and powersliding. On turning, gamers can hop into a drift, the exhaust goes black, and the wheels begin to flash. Three consecutive boosts can be added to the turn. But wait—there’s more! From the Nitro Kart sequel, if the boost is given at the perfect timing, it gives just a little more juice. Mastering the perfect boosting and keeping it throughout the tracks is key to being the best racer.  

CTR:NF does more than bring back the old with a new body, and fresh paint job. Beenox and Activision freely added new content on such a frequent basis, it’s hard to keep up. In the guise of “Grand Prix”, new racetracks and themed costumes are added, as well as brand-new characters only seen in other titles. It’s rare that you see a gaming company embrace all of the changes different studios added to one franchise. Stickers, kart bodies, wheels, and paint jobs also allow for more customization on the track so racers have lots of enjoyment mixing and matching. 

Along with that, the prix holds special challenges to award points towards unlocking the new items. For example, racers must start the last lap in last place and finish first in an online race match. In another instance, they collect wins in the battle mode, or finish time trials. Succeeding on higher difficulty levels nets more points. The points are then gathered on an overall progress meter and increase the tier of rewards. 

The themes of the Grand Prix range wildly, and incorporate assets of the Crash Bandicoot series. Crunch from Wrath of Cortex arrives, as well as Nina from Twinsanity, Pasadena from Tag Team Racing, Yaya Panda from the elusive mobile kart installments, Spyro the Dragon, Rilla Roo from Crash, and even the mutated final boss of Crash: The Huge Adventure! Beenox pours much love into this game! 

Troubled Beginnings

But it took more than love to fix the game’s launch problems; it took hard work. Memes still exist of the repulsive item balancing in the online portion of the races. Winning wasn’t based on skill, but being tricky enough to avoid the first few seconds of chaos, and lucky enough to avoid the first place knock-out items for the rest of the time. The disconnection rates were frequent, and the characters’ images distorted into unholy shapes. Items hit too early, or never hit at all. And at times you’d never race the other players to begin with. All this left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, and even after the game was balanced and improved, the suffering from launch has left an impact. 

Now things are much better, and the competition is based on knowing the game, but if you don’t quite have the chops for the top tier, it’s okay. Matchmaking pairs you up with others at your skill level, and items aren’t so chaotic, so you’re not dealing with nine missiles and four warp holes at the same time.

The base game is still the same, which is wonderful, since nothing has to be fixed about it. Alongside the Class Adventure, there’s a Nitro Fueled Adventure Mode, which allows you to change racers, karts, colors, or anything at any moment, and let’s you configure the difficulty of the CPU. 

Go get First place!

Another new addition is Wumpa Coins, an in-game currency for all of those skins and kart colors for sale in the pit stop. You obtain Wumpa Coins from winning races, both offline and online—although you’ll gain more online—and on the weekends. Activision made a decision to allow microtransactions for more Coins, a move that drew lines among fans. I won’t talk about that much here, because that takes a completely separate article (which I have here).

Beenox has also now added the Gasmoxia Prix, the final Grand Prix of the game and one which contains a nice shout-out to the lore, seeing as it takes place on the home planet to the villains of Oxide and Emperor Velo, who have even joined the game as playable characters. This won’t be the last content added to the game, either; Activision stated that they plan to release more karts, characters, and kart decals in the future, and the challenge mode will remain as long as the game exists, so that there’s something to come back to.

CTR:NF builds itself from the past collection in a way that a remaster should. It also moved forward like one too. The experience of eight, month long, grands prix felt like a really long festival. With challenges that stick around forever, balanced and fair online multiplayer, and so many characters to choose from, anytime is a great time to play. The liberties taken were all steps in the right direction, because afterwards players are positive for the future of the orange marsupial—myself included.

The Bottom Line

 

It's the perfect Crash Bandicoot festival game in the guise of a kart racer.

 

9.5

Johnathan Floyd

A current work in progress while being a work in progress. Johnathan has bounced around multiple jobs until he found his passions later than most people would. After two attempts at college, he is aiming for the career as a published author, and professor of English lit. Until then, he is enjoying being a worship leader, and writing about video games for Geeks Under Grace.

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