Twenty years ago Crash Team Racing took a stab at the kart racing genre made famous by Mario Kart. It fell only just a bit short, but still provided an exciting alternative to the Nintendo exclusive title. It has now been a while since Mario Kart 8 was released on the Nintendo Switch, and even longer since its original launch on the Nintendo Wii U, and the kart racing genre is due for a shake-up. Beenox stepped in to update Naughty Dog‘s original game for the modern era with Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Like its predecessor, it does not unseat Mario Kart as the king of the hill, but still packs in some great gameplay and lots of fun.
In addition to the original Crash Team Racing this new game includes content from the follow-up games Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. This results in a large roster of characters and 31 courses to race them on. Even if there was nothing else that would provide a significant amount of value for Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. However, Beenox was not content to simply update all the courses for modern systems as they added in plenty of their own touches. In addition to the expected multiplayer modes there’s a full adventure mode with a story, various cups to compete in and a variety of modes to test yourself against. Add on to that all the purely cosmetic customizations you can unlock through normal play and you have a game you will keep coming back to.
Of course quantity alone is not enough, and fortunately Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled can back it up with quality. The racing mechanics are finely tuned, and each racer feels largely unique. If you are coming from Mario Kart the different drift mechanic will probably trip you up for a while, but once you learn the nuances you’ll be turbo drifting around all the corners. The items you can use aren’t quite as iconic as their Mario Kart counterparts, but at least its fairly obvious what each does simply by looking at them. The items do seem to feel less impactful, which results in a bit less chaos.
Not everything is perfect in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, though. Most notably the single player modes — especially the boss races — are subject to absurd levels of rubber-banding, making them frustrating. The rubber-banding was so bad at times that I was mentally done with the adventure mode before I actually completed it. I tended to gravitate more towards ghost races after a while, which was much more satisfying in the long run. Multiplayer also suffers a bit in some areas. Most notably the higher speeds of this game make it less friendly to novice players, and the skill disparity makes races less competitive. That makes it less viable as a party game when playing with people who have never played the game, but fortunately, that isn’t too big of a hindrance.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review Final Thoughts:
Frustrations aside Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a solid game at a good price point. There is a lot of content to sift through, so even if you find one mode isn’t for you there’s a good chance something else will tickle your fancy. The inclusion of local multiplayer in addition to online will make this a great party game for years to come. All things considered, fans of kart racing games should definitely check out Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, even if they are still in the thrall of Mario Kart 8.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is available now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.