The original Crash Team Racing was a bit of an oddity in gaming. Mario Kart was dominating the kart racing genre, as it had been since the dawn of time (or 1992, if you want to be particular about it). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Crash Team Racing was released in September of 1999. CTR had a colorful cast of characters, memorable tracks, a unique-at-the-time single-player story mode, and most importantly: absolutely addicting gameplay. Crash Team Racing was a smash hit! It even spawned two sequels, Crash Tag Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart, though they weren’t received as well by critics. However, those will become important later.
When Beenox and Activision announced Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, I was cautiously optimistic. They had recently hit it out of the park with the N. Sane Trilogy a couple years prior, but can that streak continue? Does the late 90’s era of kart racing hold up to modern gaming sensibilities?
Yes. Yes, it most certainly does.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is an absolute joy to play, as well as a joy to look at with it’s HD visuals. Each and every track has been lovingly recreated with elements taken from all over the Crash Bandicoot series just to add to the overall experience of the track. The game plays exactly how you remember it, but also somehow better at the same time. The item boxes return as expected, with identical mechanics to CTR’s retro counterpart. CTR’s now famous story mode also makes a triumphant return, adding new cutscenes for boss introductions and victories. Most surprisingly, many of the tracks and characters from CTR’s sequels make a return as well, essentially tripling the track and character list! Nitro Fueled even borrows a few game mechanics from Tag Team and Nitro Kart to further enhance the overall experience. Add some fairly deep customization, online multiplayer, and a steady flow of new tracks and racers courtesy of the Nitro Tour Grand Prix and you have an end result that feels like one of the most complete kart racers ever made.
My biggest criticism of Nitro Fueled is that the story mode was recreated TOO well. None of the revamped Nitro Kart or Tag Team Racing tracks make an appearance. Perhaps a DLC follow up to the original story could be in the works?
I happily give Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled a 9/10.