The last few years have seen an explosion in remasters and remakes of classic games. Following the success of 2017’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, it became clear that more Crash Bandicoot remasters would follow. Released in June 2019, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a remaster of 1999’s Crash Team Racing. Developed by Beenox, it is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. But just how does the remaster hold up 20 years after the game originally debuted?
The first thing that people who played the original game will notice is that the karts handle differently. This time around they feel lighter and require much more of a caring touch. What is important, though, is that it works well. Despite the delicate nature of the handling, the controls feel tight and responsive. You get a good feel for the kart underneath you and will soon have no trouble taking turns.
On the other hand, getting to grips with the Power Slide is no simple matter. If you are familiar with Mario Kart you’ll be aware of the Power Slide. Yet, in this racer, it doesn’t work in quite the same way. There seems to be less precision when it comes to sliding around turns but also more of a boost from getting it right. It’s a trade-off that I think works, as it rewards skill more. After all, most people can pull off a successful Power Slide in Mario Kart, where it therefore offers little advantage.
The various power-ups and weapons that you get from crates are exactly what you would expect from a kart racer. For example, the Aku Aku Mask is like the star in Mario Kart, giving you a temporary boost and invincibility. TNT boxes can blow up opponents and collectible Wumpa fruit lets you upgrade the powers.
The main area of concern in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is the singleplayer adventure. There is a huge difficulty spike that means beating many of the bosses and later stages requires you to master the racing. In particular, you need to be comfortable using the Power Slide and boost mechanics. Fail to do that and races can quickly become frustrating.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled has a tremendous amount of content. Not only does it include everything from the original Crash Team Racing, but it also includes content from other titles. These include both Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. Every single character from those two games has been included as playable racers. Even some that were just bosses in the earlier versions are now available to the player.
Additionally, the developers have introduced characters from other Crash Bandicoot titles. Spyro and some of his pals are also available thanks to several post-launch updates. That brings the character roster up to an impressive 44. Few other racers contain such a pool of choices for you to choose from.
Furthermore, the remaster features kart customization and arenas that were previously not included. All of this means that this is without a doubt the most complete racer in the franchise. Add in an adventure mode and you can get plenty of value from Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
Unfortunately, Activision has introduced microtransactions since the release of the title. Early interviews with the developers had stated these wouldn’t be included, and the initial version of the game did not.
However, an update in August brought microtransactions, allowing players to buy Wumpa coins to buy additional characters and items. Players can earn Wumpa coins normally through gameplay so they don’t offer any real advantage. Still, it is not a great sign for publishers to have paid-for options to essentially skip content in their games.
Visually, there isn’t that much to talk about as this is exactly what you would expect from a kart racer. It is not the most graphically impressive game you can play. However, it gets the job done well enough and still manages to remain faithful to the Crash Bandicoot world.
There are also no real performance issues or technical problems. A nice feature is the ability to choose between soundtracks. You can switch between the music from the original game and the remastered versions of the songs. So, if you want to go full nostalgia the choice is there.
The kart racing genre has been dominated by Mario Kart for some time. Although a lot of other titles have come along to try and dethrone the champion, few have come close. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is perhaps the best rival that series has right now. It is colorful, exciting, and a whole lot of fun.
The only real issue is the difficulty spikes in adventure mode and the recently-added microtransactions. Considering the amount of content at your disposal and the refined gameplay, these are issues that can be easily forgiven.