Few gamers would disagree that Crash Bandicoot was a very important piece of the PlayStation One’s library. Our orange marsupial hero starred in terrific platformers that went toe-to-toe with big franchises like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. And let’s not forget about Crash Team Racing, Sony’s heavily-revered answer to the iconic Mario Kart 64. CTR offered wacky items, well-designed tracks, and a very enthralling adventure mode. Crash and co. got two more kart racers after that, but it seems like the first one from 1999 is the fan-favorite. And apparently, Activision has heard that loud and clear, because they have now taken the 20-year-old racer and given it an amazing coat of modern paint in the form of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
Exercise your Cortex
For those of you who missed this game’s original version (We at SSG will not judge you, don’t worry), allow me to summarize the story — Crash, his allies, and his enemies have developed a kart-racing hobby, which soon catches the attention of an egomaniacal racer named Nitros Oxide. Due to his deranged fascination for showing off his racing prowess, he challenges Earth’s best driver to a one-on-one race for all the spoils. The drawback is that if Nitros wims, he’ll turn the world into a parking lot and force the inhabitants to be at his command. With the fate of the globe in question, you and the character of your choosing must rack up victories one after another, collect all the trophies and relics, and stop Nitros once and for all.
On the track, Nitro-Fueled has controls that are both tight and deep. While it’s mainly inspired by Mario Kart, its drifting mechanic feels very unique. You hold down one of two hop buttons to hop and initiate the drift, and it fills up the boost meter. When it gets to half-full or close to being completely full, you tap the other hop button to perform a speed boost. You can chain up to three, and your timing determines how fast your boosts are. It seems a bit challenging, but it’ll grow on you. All of the tracks (And even some new ones, including a PS4 exclusive), characters, and items from the original version are back, and you even get content that originates from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. Combine all of the above with many ways to customize your character and kart, and you have more than enough depth to accompany you during your trip down memory lane.
A Wumpa Fruit a day keeps Cortex away
Though some may scoff at the game being locked to 30 FPS, you have to give it credit for having little to no slowdown, even when four players are racing on one screen. The team at Beenox has done a fantastic job giving the 1999 racer a 2019 makeover, with eye-popping colors and well-animated characters. The audio is also above average with hilarious one-liners and very catchy music. And speaking of music, you have the option of listening to the remade soundtrack or the original PS1 music, which is such a rad touch.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, up to four players can race or battle on one console in a laundry list of game types. But if for some reason you’re unable to invite friends into your home to play this nostalgia-filled racer, online play makes up for it with each lobby holding up to eight players. I wouldn’t say it’s the best online arcade racing out there, but Beenox has plenty of time to fix up the netcode. Whether it’s offline or online, the multiplayer does everything in its power to make you laugh out loud or utter every curse word imaginable.
No sugar, no caffeine, just Crash
As long as you’re not a Mario Kart elitist that turns the other cheek when seeing one of many clones of said series, I have a butt-ton of confidence that Crash and the gang will provide you with a hefty amount of racing hilarity. It’s fun and deep, but more importantly, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a highly-successful unearthing of one of the kart-racing genre’s most prominent competitors.