Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines as you’re about to make your way through challenging obstacles in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. The game stars your favorite marsupial (and his friends/enemies) as they must run through a world tour to determine who is fast enough to beat Nitros Oxide. The game starts off with Crash, his sister Coco, and his arch nemesis Dr. Neo Cortex racing each other, only to run into a message by an alien named Nitros Oxide. Nitros Oxide instructs that they find someone to race him as he is the fastest racer in the galaxy. He wants to take over their world and, “make their entire globe a concrete parking lot”. If the chosen racer wins, their planet is safe, so now it is up to you to decide who should save the planet from Nitros Oxide.
The game itself is a remastered version of the classic Crash Team Racing (CTR) game for PS1, and also adds on some content from other Crash kart games like Nitro Kart and Tag Team. You get to choose from playing Classic Mode, which keeps the story and its content like the original game, or you can play Nitro Fueled Mode which allows you to change your kart, character, and the skin of that character. There are also some other modes that I will talk about later on in the review.
The game’s roster holds up to twenty-five characters to play (eight to start out with that was from the original game). The game allows you to unlock characters as you go; whether you unlock them by earning enough wumpa coins, by beating them in story mode or time trial (which we’ll get to those later in the review).
Being a huge fan of Crash growing up, I played as the lovable marsupial himself, and chose classic mode first in order to feel the nostalgia of my experiences on the PS1. Granted, shortly after, I made another file to do the Nitro Fueled Mode. As you start the game, a cutscene plays that shows what I explained for the story earlier in this review, and shortly after you find yourself in a hub area. Before you start, the all-knowing Aku Aku appears to tell you what you need to do and what you need to know. Usually after every race, he will appear again to give you helpful hints on how to become a better racer (if you don’t remember or didn’t hear what he says, no worries; you can always pause the game and hit the hints tab to help you out).
The HUB area consists of five areas you can go to that each consists of various tracks and challenges for you to face. You have to end up coming in first on all the tracks to progress further; the more trophies you win, the more tracks and bosses you face. There are also different challenges on the tracks you can play after winning the races and the boss battles. The challenges are CTR Challenge and Relic Race. In CTR Challenge, you must collect the letters, “C”, “T”, and “R” and also come in first to collect a CTR coin. In Relic Race, you must run against the time limit and also collect all the boxes, which helps freeze the time for a certain amount of seconds, to win the Relic. Both are harder than they sound but also make the game, and its tracks, replayable. The more CTR coins and Relics you collect, the more rewards (such as skins and karts) you get. You also get CTR coins from playing the Crystal Challenge. In Crystal Challenge, you must collect a certain amount of crystals in a certain amount of time to win the CTR coin.
Now that I described most of what you do in story mode, let’s talk about the game itself and when I tried it out. Like the previous Crash Bandicoot game, I found it more challenging than I remember it being when I played the originals as a kid. I remember being excited when I saw they made a remastered version of the first three Crash games, and when I played it, I found myself struggling quite a bit, even with the first few levels. That’s how it was with this game; the first race I ended up having to play a few times just because of the challenge towards it. Granted, I haven’t played the original in ages so it took a while to remember the mechanics and the tricks to the game. After losing the first race, I finally got it down, somewhat. You actually get better as you go along since you start mastering the mechanics a little more after every race. It’s not just the mechanics to watch out for, but the powerups; the powerups come in “?” boxes where you can get useful items such as a TNT box or a missile that launches at players in front of you. You can also get wumpa fruits that help you go faster and also help make your powerups more powerful.
If you have mastered other games like Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing, that won’t exactly help you here in CTR; in this game you rely on a lot of Turbo Boosts and Brake Slides. Aku Aku makes it quite clear that these are the techniques to help you become a better racer in this game (so be ready to do a lot of hopping and turning). Turbo boosts come from using the hop method when either turning a corner or jumping off of ramps. If you do one for turning, there is a meter that starts filling up, and the more it fills up the faster you go. The ramp hopping is self-explanatory.
The tracks themselves were wonderful to see remastered; the creators put in various background characters in each track to make them feel more lively and comical. I found myself really blown away with how a lot of the tracks turned out, and the amazing music that came with them (big nostalgic feels). Tracks that I became fond of playing on were Tiny Arena, Dragon Mines and Hot Air Skyway, mainly due to how many ramps and turns you get to drive off of.
When you get to the bosses, they make for quite a challenge. Before you face them, they show funny and colorful cutscenes of the characters that make the game all the more fun to enjoy. When it comes to racing them, they are quite a handful and leave you on the edge of your seat for most of the ride; characters like Ripper Roo will keep throwing TNT box powerups at you while racing. The other bosses follow a simalar pattern, using different power ups from the game while you face them off.
If you’re worried about the game only consisting of a story mode, no worries; there is also an arcade mode that consists of various game modes you can choose from. You can do a single race if you want to just test out the tracks, or you can also do a cup race where you race others on four different tracks. You can also do a battle mode, like in Mario Kart, and there are various battle modes you can do. The battle modes consist of Limit Battle where you score points, Capture the Flag, Crystal Grab where you grab the most crystals than the other team, Last Kart Driving where you knock the other team out while avoiding being knocked out, and Steal the Bacon where you grab “the bacon” and take it to your home portal. I tried out all these battle modes and I have to say I was a big fan of Capture the Flag and Steal the Bacon, but then again, I like games where you have to take an ideal object from the other team. All the modes were fun to play and really easy to jump right into. I honestly feel like the battle mode is what will keep family and friends playing for hours, especially for those that play online.
Another mode is Time Trial where you try to make a great score on each track. After you play a round on each track, special track records appear that you must beat to unlock a certain character. If you can beat their scores on all the tracks, then you unlock that character, so go for the best score!
The last arcade mode games consists of the CTR Challenge, Relic Race, and Crystal Challenge, so if you need practice at either of those, or just want to play them for fun, then you can play them in arcade mode.
Another thing you can do in the menu is go to the Pit Stop; after every race you get a certain amount of wumpa coins that you can use to buy characters, skins, karts, and other varieties so be sure to save up!
The very last thing that I would like to talk about is the online service. The online service seemed a little bad when I tried playing it, but this was towards launch and I haven’t exactly played any more of it since. I’m hoping by now they have it fixed, but when I tried it, the game made it hard to tell what position you or any of the other racers were in; they kept glitching in and out to where it was hard to keep track of what was going on. You would think this would be one of the more important things they would want to work on since people are all about challenging each other online. The waiting can feel a little tiring to when you have to wait on other players, but again, I feel it was mainly an issue with the network for the game itself that I’m sure they will fix.
Another small thing that felt a little irritating at times is the loading screen; I know I can feel a little impatient with loading screens sometimes, but the loading screen pops on before every time you’re about to race and when you finish a race. I can understand having them but the screens can feel like they’re there for so long to where it feels like it takes forever for you to race. Aside from this, there wasn’t really anything else that bugged me but like I said it was a little thing that got under my skin.
Overall, the game itself is a fun time and one I recommend old school and new coming fans of Crash to play. The game is a lot of fun and brings back a lot of great memories of racing my brother in it. It might not blow other racing games, like Mario Kart, out of the water, but it is definitely up there for being one of my favorite racing games of all time. I feel that if you love a great challenge and loved the Crash Bandicoot games, then this is one for you. Even if you’re not, it still makes for a fun couch multiplayer game, and when they get it fixed, a fun online multiplayer experience. This game gets a 8.5/10!
(Reviewed by Jay Williams on Nintendo Switch).