REVIEW – The Crash Bandicoot Trilogy was a major success for Activision back in 2017 so while the iron is still hot. The publisher assigned the project to Beenox to deliver a new remake for a different kind of Crash series, the old Crash Kart games (Crash Team Racing, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing).
However, rather than release three different games in one package with separate menus (like in the Spyro and Crash games) Beenox decided to mold the best parts of all three games, and all of the characters, plus tracks into one big game, with multiple hub worlds and a light story to compliment the races. Whether this remake is also worthy of your hard earned cash, or if this is a soulless rip-off, find out here.
Survival of the Fastest
While the remake contains all elements of the listed three games, the story is aka the adventure mode only includes the plot from Crash Team Racing. In which an alien being called Nitros Oxide comes to Earth looking to race the best driver of the planet. If the Earthlings win Oxide leaves them if peace, but if they fail he will turn the entire planet into one giant parking lot.
The adventure mode then puts the player into a hub world where they can select which races they want to go to. Once all races are completed, they can race against a hub world boss in a 1vs1 style face off. Besides the intro cutscene, the occasional boss chats, and the epilogue cutscenes, there is not much story, but for a kart racing game that is just fine. The main concern for any Kart game is not its storyline, but the game modes and amount of tracks it has, which Nitro-Fueled has loads of it.
Within the local modes, we have Adventure Mode as detailed above, Local Arcade, and Online. The game features 31 tracks to play on, and 26 characters to play as throughout the game. The Local Arcade mode feature a host of game modes including: Single Race, Cup Race (Four levels mixed into a tournament style mode), Battle ( in which the player has to eliminate other AI opponents in an arena), Time Trial, Relic Race ( in which you have to complete a map in a certain time, and also the timer can be slowed by picking up crates), Crystal Challenge where you have to pick up as many crystals on the map as possible, and CTR Challenge.
The online mode is a bit simpler, and only has two modes, single race, and battle. There is currently no way to create customer championships or special rules. Which is a bit disappointing if you wanted to do online cup matches. In the end, this remake provides a full package in terms of game modes, and the developers will provide further support through free DLC in the forms of tracks, unlockable characters, and time-limited events.
There are no microtransactions in the game, but there is an in-game currency that the player can use to unlock skins, characters, and customization items in the so-called “Pit Stop”. Getting the currency is easy, and it does hinder the experience for the player.
Shiny wheels and weird places
The graphics for the remake is just stunning and is absolutely gorgeous. All 31 tracks are rendered beautifully and remade for modern graphics. Plus the game supports 4K and HDR so if you have a high-end TV those colours will be vivid. Especially the maps which are really fun to play on, as all of them have their own little neat biomes, shortcuts, and backgrounds. Everything is just superb, and there is nothing I can say against the visual fidelity of this remake.
The soundtrack and the sound effects are also great, and every level has its own distinct track, the items with their own distinct depth. It feels like a 90s game wrapped in the visuals and sound design of 2019. One of the best looking Kart games of this generation and plays unbelievably well, the only gripe some people might have is that the game is limited to 30FPS while some people were expecting a faster-paced 60FPS.
A steep learning curve
Nitro-Fueled is not an easy walk in the park game. The game actually has two difficulty modes in Adventure mode. The classic mode where you get a default difficulty and you cannot switch characters once selected, or customize the kart. There is also the new updated version, where you can select difficulty and also switch karts mid game.
Now for those who want to experience the original difficulty will select the classic mode, but based on feedback I have read, and my experience this version is just not fun. In fact, even in the new mode, even medium and hard difficulty have issues. The AI seems to just overtake the player too easily and can frustrate a new player to the franchise. The developers will either need to patch this or have to make some adjustments to the AI, as their recovery speed seems to be much quicker compared to the player. Also, the player has to be super accurate and perfect during the races on higher difficulties, otherwise there will not be any way to catch up again against the AI drivers. Drifting and turbo boosts are a must, and while I am not saying challenges are not fun, but the developers overdid this a bit.
The game, in the end, is another proof that such remakes are worth the time and effort. It reinvigorates an old franchise and does not feel like a simple cash grab. Plus it is one of the most fun games of 2019, especially if they fix the difficulty issues down the line with a patch.
+ Lots of tracks and characters
+ Superb graphics and sound design
– Boost and powerslide mechanics are a bit rough
– AI is cheap and frustrating on higher difficulties
– Locked 30FPS
Genre: Kart Racing
Release date: June 21, 2019