We have been waiting for the remake of Crash Team Racing for a long time. Needless to say, the game had a lot of expectations to live up to.
The remake and remaster fad is very much in full swing in the gaming industry now. Following this year's E3, many of us are eagerly awaiting the long talked about remaster of Final Fantasy VII. The games that kicked off this trend were originally released at around the same time as FF7, at least the first one: Crash Bandicoot. Almost two years ago to the day, the Crash N. Sane Trilogy was released, which were remastered versions of the first three Crash games.
The N. Sane Trilogy more than lived up to the hype. At last count, its lifetime sales had exceeded 10 million units. With numbers like that, you can't blame Activision and Vicarious Visions for immediately planning what would be next. Trouble is, no Crash game released since those first three has been as popular. Well, all except one. Crash Team Racing.
In 2018, the game's developers revealed that a CTR remake was indeed in the works called, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. This weekend marked the released of that remaster, and we have been playing it for pretty much 48 hours solid. We've been playing it that much for two reasons. One, so that we could write this review, and two, because the game is so damn addictive, we haven't been able to put down our controllers.
As soon as we fired up Nitro-Fueled, we dove right into the game's Aventure Mode. We would recommend all of you who plan on playing the game doing the same, whether you owned the original or not. As with the Crash trilogy remake, despite playing the games obsessively when we were kids, there was a learning curve. CTR feels a lot more difficult than it was in 1999. Perhaps that's because we were better gamers back then, or maybe there's something the game's developers aren't telling us, as eventually, they admitted that the jumping mechanic had been altered in the trilogy remaster.
Perhaps what we love about Nitro-Fueled most is how close it has remained to the original game. Even the controls are the same, which actually proved to be something of an issue at first. Accelerating using the X button (on a PS4) feels extremely unnatural nowadays, after years of being trained to use R2. Fear not, though. That is easily changed in the game's options if you can't get the hang of Nitro-Fueled's retro control setup.
The Adventure Mode is the same. The bosses are the same. The controls are the same. It's quite the nostalgia hit. The exact same game as the original with updated graphics probably wouldn't have been enough, but Activision gave us more, including tracks and characters from CTR's two follow up games, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. Not all of them are available from the very start, but playing through Adventure Mode and earning coins to purchase the rest in the Pit Stop is easy enough. Plus, more importantly, it's fun to do and won't cost you anything extra.
One thing the original CTR definitely didn't have was an online element, for obvious reasons. Nitro-Fueled's online capabilities are pretty basic, but that's really all they need to be. Eight players meet in the lobby, pick their racers, vote for a track, and the fun begins. We're not sure how everyone we've faced so far got so good so fast, but we'll be winning online races soon enough, mark our words.
After we managed to tear ourselves away from Nitro-Fueled's Adventure Mode, and then got fed up of having our behinds handed to us online, we rediscovered the reason why we fell in love with CTR 20 years ago: Battle Mode, which are arenas in which racers go head-to-head, rather than compete alongside one another. Players can simply try to eliminate one another using the game's weapons, or you can make things a little more interesting, such as a few rounds of Capture The Flag, a mode first introduced via Crash Nitro Kart.
With a game like this, it is only natural to directly compare it to Mario Kart, whether you mean to or not. Considering the history at its disposal and the amount of time and dollars that have been pumped into the Mario Kart franchise, it is probably an unfair comparison to make. That being said, Nitro-Fueled is exactly what we wanted it to be. It might not be as polished as its Nintendo-based rival, but why would it be? Nitro-Fueled exceeded the expectations we had for it, and who knows? Perhaps if things go well enough, we could be on the cusp of Activision launching a series of new CTR games going forward. If they remain rooted in Crash Bandicoot's rich history, we would be extremely okay with that.
4 Out Of 5 Stars
A copy of the game was purchased by TheGamer for this review. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is now available for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.