In all my years of gaming there has only ever been one kart racer that has ever stood up to the mighty Mario Kart; Crash Team Racing. Many have tried, many have failed. However, as it was back in September of 1999 and as it is again now in 2019, Crash is still the true rival of Mario Kart to the kart racer throne.
Remaking Crash Team Racing for the modern era seems like such an obviously good move that it makes one wonder why it was not done sooner. Following on from the success of the hugely successful remakes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, it is now Crash Team Racing’s turn to feel some of that remake love. So, how does it compare to the original and how does it stand up to other kart racers?
First of all, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled stays true to the original by re-capturing the essence that made the 1999 version such a classic. What we essentially have here is the same bones of that game with a glossy new makeover. The core mechanics that were responsible for the simple, yet thrilling gameplay of the original are all preserved with the remake.
What separates Crash Team Racing from its rivals such as Mario Kart is the powerslide mechanic. You see, it’s not just enough to be a safe driver. In order to reach maximum speeds, you must utilise the powersliding mechanic to your advantage. It’s a little tricky to get the hang of in the beginning but once you do, you’ll find yourself ranking a lot higher in races. As it was back in 1999, this is a mechanic that makes Crash Team Racing more ‘difficult’ than other kart racers but the satisfaction derived from mastering this mechanic is well worth it.
The Crash Bandicoot franchise has earned its place among cult classics. As such, there is a fair wealth of characters to choose from in a kart racer that pulls from all the past games of this beloved franchise. Whilst the term ‘remake’ is being thrown around it does, in fact, feel more like a reimagining due to the sheer amount of content added. Incidentally, there are now customisation items that can be attained via an in-game currency that allows you to spruce up characters that are already exuding colourful personalities. Don’t fret, there is no way to pay for this currency as it must be earned in the game. Thankfully, Crash Team Racing didn’t fall victim to the plague of microtransactions in modern gaming.
Adventure Mode is back and brings with it various race types and challenges for you to roam around in. These can vary from time trials to an open arena crystal hunt challenge. Separately, these can get to be a little repetitive but there is enough variation between these ‘party’ modes that they prevent repetition from becoming a serious problem.
Remaking Crash Team Racing naturally brings with it an online element. In this case, a fully fledged online multiplayer system. Unfortunately, it is here that the game experiences some glaring online issues. Races can often break down completely at a worst case scenario but more commonly the game just simply does not work online and issues such as lag and pop-in persist. It is a real shame because when you don’t run into these issues the online play is a ton of fun and super competitive.
Moreover, there is good news with it being confirmed that the online mode will be treated to free DLC later in the year with new characters and races being added for free. We will also see Spyro added to the game, again for free, which feels like a nice bonus especially in hindsight of the issues that the online mode is currently experiencing.
Thankfully, I have spent most of my time playing Crash Team Racing split screen. I did get the chance to play a fair bit of online before I moved house recently. After that, I was without broadband for a little while. However, it wasn’t all bad since I had picked up Crash Team Racing which definitely came in handy for me to pass the time. My brother and I had tremendous childhood-like nostalgia playing in split screen mode and it is definitely the most fun I have had with Crash Team Racing and thus is my recommended mode to play.
If I can stop gushing about how much of a sheer joy the game is to play, I can get onto the performance. You will be pleased to hear that Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled runs at a full native 1080p on base PS4 hardware which provides a crisply detailed image. With the colourful and wacky aesthetic everything really pops at this high resolution. In somewhat bad news, the game does run at 30fps which does feel like a missed opportunity because 60fps would feel a lot slicker and be on par with what Mario Kart puts out.
Graphically, the game is very impressive indeed and the team at Beenox who remade this game deserve medals for their work here. It’s not easy to walk that line of preserving an original game whilst remaking it with modern technology but the developers have done a very accomplished job at it here. Maps feel the same but look astoundingly better than the originals. Of course, that’s not anything shocking considering the advances in technology but there is an attention to detail in the terrains that highlights a genuine amount of care that went into making this game.
In conclusion, one must always be wary of nostalgia as it can be a hell of a drug but there is no need to be wary here. Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled pays homage to the 1999 original whilst introducing an array of new features to make the game viable for modern gamers. The price point is perfect for the content on offer and if you’re simply looking for a game that can bring back that fun from your childhood then look no further. Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled has reminded us that there is only one true rival to Mario Kart.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*