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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Depth in arcade racing mechanics
  • Excellent track and character roster design
  • Variety of game modes

Might Not Like

  • No incentive to keep playing after beating main campaign
  • Dead online multiplayer
  • Terrible in-game shop
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Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled Review

CRASH TEAM RACING

Mario Kart is an arcade racing giant that never fails to deliver fun and engaging gameplay. With the latest in the series being Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and their subsequent DLC Course Pass having been fully released on the Nintendo Switch in 2019, longtime fans are more or less satiated. However, I could not shake the itch for wanting to play a kart racer that is not Mario Kart and has its own appeal and depth in mechanics. Hence, I stumbled upon Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled for the Nintendo Switch, which is a remaster of the original game Crash Team Racing for the original PlayStation.

A Rip-Roaring Adventure

Although not typically seen in kart racing games, I found the Adventure Mode quite enjoyable. The story is similar to the original, with an alien named Nitros Oxide travelling across the universe to challenge Crash Bandicoot and his world of characters to a series of races. The stakes are high - if Nitros defeats their planet's champion, their entire world will be turned into a concrete parking lot. If they win, Nitros leaves their planet untouched. You can choose to play this campaign either in the classic difficulty mode as Crash in his original kart with no customization, or you can play in the modern difficulty mode where you can pick your character, kart and driving style as well as difficulty level. Then you navigate from one hub area to the next, beating a series of races and collect-athon style challenges, which earn you medals and gems that unlock that specific hub world’s boss. Upon beating the boss, you get a key which unlocks the entrance to the next hub world and so on until you eventually race off against Nitros Oxide. I found this mode to be quite exciting and an excellent way to introduce the game to the player as you essentially go on a world tour, climbing up the race ladder and becoming the ultimate kart racer for planet earth.

Race Fast or Crash Hard

The racing in CTR: Nitro Fueled is fast and frenetic. Like in any other arcade kart racer, the aim here is to use all possible tricks: boost pads, ramps, shortcuts, boost items and especially drift boosts to finish first on the track. Unlike other kart racers however, it stands uniquely on its own thanks to its drift boost mechanics. Getting a drift boost is not as simple as holding the brake and adjusting your drift through a corner, where the longer you are able to maintain a clean drift the longer the duration of the boost you get. In CTR: Nitro Fueled, there is a bar/indicator on the bottom right side of the heads-up display that shows you when to trigger the boost as you drift. When you initiate the boost by pressing and holding the right shoulder button, you need to hit the left shoulder button the moment the meter is almost full. Doing this successfully once grants you a boost midway through your drift. If you do this 3 consecutive times perfectly then each time you get a boost, it increases in duration and intensity. On paper, it may all sound very hard to explain and follow, and to be fair, any newcomers to whom I have introduced this game to did find it very tricky to pull off. But if you are able to let go of standard boost mechanics from other racers and give it a few more tries, once you successfully pull this off, it becomes second nature after a couple of races. I even returned to this game a few months after I initially beat the campaign and still found myself intuitively picking right back up as if I just played it the day before.

Once you get the hang of the drift boosting, then you have ramps to deal with, which are simpler in concept. The right shoulder button, when tapped just as you fly off a ramp, gives you another quick boost upon landing. This also extends to bumps and hills on the road if you can launch yourself fast enough and high enough from the ground. Hence CTR: Nitro Fueled is fantastic for those willing to employ all these tricks in tandem with their understanding of the track layouts and possible shortcuts, to become a master of the game and eventually beat the time trials.

Variety is the Wumpa of Life

Other game modes available in the Local Arcade menu, such as single race, cup race, ring rally, relic race and CTR challenge get you to learn all the ins and outs of the tracks. Speaking of, there are 39 in total as of writing with bonus tracks from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. All the tracks are very well designed and are clearly distinct from each other with some even having their own special obstacles and hazards. With a few exceptions like Turbo Track and Slide Coliseum, all the tracks share a chaotic cartoonish DNA, with plenty of twists and turns and inclines that would seem out of place in any other racer but feel right at home in the world of Crash Bandicoot. There are also arena style game modes such as Battle and Crystal Challenge, for which there are 12 maps in total. Battle is quite similar to what has been seen before in Mario Kart, but Crystal Challenge tasks you with collecting up to 20 crystals scattered around the maps within a specific time limit depending on the difficulty level you choose. All in all, outside of the main campaign there is plenty to do and enjoy here. With the daily, weekly and pro challenges providing incentive to achieve specific tasks for a set number of times, the game will keep pulling you back in with its multiple combinations of game modes and tracks/arenas.

Pit-Stop Disaster

But this now brings me to my main problem with CTR: Nitro Fueled which is its currency and in-game shop, called the Pit Stop. You can log into this menu every day to have a look at all the cosmetics, karts as well as characters to be purchased, with some going on sale. All of these items sell for at least a thousand Wumpa coins with some going up to several thousand. You can earn Wumpa coins from just playing the game, completing races and achieving challenges. However, the rewards for completing them are not more than 75 Wumpa coins! This results in you having to grind out long hours, potentially forever, in order to purchase everything in the Pit Stop. Some of those challenges will have conditions such as beating a race with a specific character or a specific kart, or even a combination of both. Then I realise, I have not unlocked either because I did not spend hours trying to earn enough coins to purchase them, when they were available in the shop! So, the worst part of this is that you cannot go to the Pit-Stop and purchase what you are looking for because it only allows you to buy a select few things for a limited amount of time.

To bypass all this nonsense, you can skip on the grind by purchasing Wumpa coins with real money, which I find really sours my overall experience with the game. This could have been easily rectified by scaling the rewards and the cost of purchasing items from the Pit Stop so that a reasonable amount of time can be spent in the game with ample incentive to beat the challenges. The limitation on purchasing these in-game items should also be removed as it is quite unnecessary.

The Finish Line

I later found the gameplay to be adequately challenging and I did find the story mode pushing me to master its unique mechanics. Like a wayward bandicoot in a fruitless quest for Wumpa coins, the game does stumble and crash in a few places, especially with its dead online multiplayer and ludicrous in-game shop. My initial few hours with the game were spent fighting my muscle memory from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but it eventually still races ahead with its challenging gameplay mechanics and engaging story mode, making for a nitro-fueled experience.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Depth in arcade racing mechanics
  • Excellent track and character roster design
  • Variety of game modes

Might not like

  • No incentive to keep playing after beating main campaign
  • Dead online multiplayer
  • Terrible in-game shop

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