Crash Bandicoot returns once more with Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, out now on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Our review is based on the Playstation 4 version.
I find it entertaining that we’re already talking about the Playstation 5, yet not much time seems to have passed since we got the Playstation 4 – and I don’t mean that in the literal sense. When the PS4 launched, quite a few of its better titles were actually remasters – God of War 3 and The Last of Us immediately come to mind. I never expected that, years later, we’d still be right in the middle of the remake/remaster trend.
Crash Bandicoot first returned in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, featuring the three platformers in the franchise. There was a guest appearance in Skylanders Imaginators as well, but so far we’re still waiting on a brand new game in the series. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled isn’t that – it’s a remake of a kart racing game that first appeared on the Playstation 1 back in 1999, with the original still available as a Vita/PS3 purchase on the Playstation Store. And while many license-based kart racers feel generic (including the recent Nickelodeon one), Crash’s first outing was memorable – but how did it stand the test of time?
At its base, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a pretty standard Mario Kart clone. Cartoon-like characters duke it out with each other, and the racing is further enhanced by the ability to pick up and use weapons and power-ups along the way. It’s a concept as old as the SNES days, and still going strong. One cool twist in Crash Team Racing is that you can also sort of level-up within a race by collecting enough fruits, but other than that it’s all fairly recognizable stuff.
One kart racer I really enjoy was Sonic & All Stars Racing (Transformed), partly because of how the handling was implemented. Powerslides weren’t just there, they also rewarded you in providing a little turbo boost. Crash Team Racing features a similar mechanic, and learning to master it has its rewards – though there’s the risk of losing control involved while you’re still practicing due to the sometimes narrow courses in this game.
What’s also different from Mario Kart is that Crash Team Racing features a story mode, and the one in Nitro-Fueled is improved from the original version of the mode. You can still play the original PS1-era campaign, but you also have the option to play an updated version that gives you access to more playable characters as well as a difficulty setting – which is welcome, as Crash’s campaign is no walk in the park.
While I don’t remember if the original PS1 version had this feature, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled supports four player split screen gameplay for really fun local multiplayer sessions – which is where games like these truly shine. Online multiplayer definitely is new though, and something that veterans of Crash’s racing games will certainly enjoy.
As with the earlier trilogy, this Crash Bandicoot remake looks great – though the framerate (even on a PS4 Pro) is locked at 30 frames per second. The graphics can be boosted to 4K resolutions, but I think Team Sonic Racing is the better looking kart racer this year. I really enjoyed Crash’s “back to basic” gameplay though – that part has definitely held up.
Nitro-Fueled also adds tracks that weren’t in the original game, but have been imported from the game’s lesser known sequels. Track design in Crash never feels as imaginative or visually striking as that in other (more recent) racers, and it’s one of the areas in which the game’s source material shows its age. But, as with any other successful remake – the fact that the game brings back fond memories with highly polished graphics, additional content and gameplay that still works (and has been refined) means that fans of the original game shouldn’t hesitate in picking this up.