Well, it is finally here! after all the hype and excitement I finally got hold of a copy of Activision’s Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled (referred to herein as CTRNF.) Having not played it for many many years since its original form on the PS1, it is scary to think that when CTR originally came out I was 19, young, free and playing the field, with no real responsibilities, and here I am age 38 with a wife, mortgage and 4 kids, how times change! The Crash Bandicoot franchise seems very much alive since the successful launch of the N’sane Trilogy, how will this blend of Crash Team Racing, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing work out? Will dev Beenox be able to resurrect the nostalgia?
Ok, let’s cut to the chase. The real reason you are probably reading this is to see how good CTRNF is, should you buy it or not? My answer to that? If you love Crash Bandicoot and his posse, love racing games such as Mario Kart and also want to have a spark of nostalgia return to you after all these years then Yes, go get it! I haven’t put CTRNF down since I bought it.
CTRNF features a single player Adventure mode, along with a fun story where your world has been threatened by evil self-proclaimed fastest racer in the universe, Nitros Oxide. Your task is to prove yourself as the ultimate racer on Crash’s world and to go up against this dastardly villain. In order to do this you must race through a series of themed worlds each with tracks to conquer and boss battles to win.
Starting on the sunny N.Sanity Beach you begin your mission by racing on the familiar Crash Cove track where you have 3 laps to come in first place and beat the other 7 AI racers. Other than earning Wumpa coins, the in-game currency to unlock character skins and custom kart items, there are no prizes for not coming first. The difficulty of the races can be selected from easy, medium and hard. I have so far played on medium and I have found it to be a testing difficulty on some of the courses for sure! It is worth adding that you can begin Adventure mode either playing in Classic, whereby you cannot change your chosen character and kart or Nitro Fueled where you can.
Each of the races tests your skill of power sliding and boosting the kart as well as knowing when to use each power-up and also where short cuts are to be made. As you race around you collect Wumpa fruit to boost your overall top speed as well as pickup random power-ups such as homing missiles, shields and TNT crates to help gain the advantage. The timing for using them is crucial in order to make a difference to your track position.
For every race you win you obtain a trophy and once you have 4 of them you can take on the boss of the world in a 1 on 1 race whereby the boss will lay numerous traps for you to drive into unless you can get past them. If you can come first then you become one step closer to taking on Nitros Oxide and receive a key that unlocks the next world, however, your love/hate relationship with the tracks you have just played are not over quite yet. Every track has 2 additional modes you can take part in: Relic challenges and CTR challenges.
Relic challenges are fun but quite tricky to play. Here you must drive around the track, thankfully without anyone else, trying to finish the 3 laps below the allotted time shown at the top of the screen. The only way you are going to achieve that time is to drive through the various wooden crates dotted around the course that give you either a 1,2 or 3 second time bonus. If you manage to hit all of the crates you will also receive an additional 10 second time bonus. Your prize for winning, a shiny relic!
CTR challenges can again be fairly tough. This time you are racing against AI once more however not only do you need to finish first but you also need to collect the letters C, T and R which are spaced out around the track, and not always very obvious as to where they actually are! Your prize this time is a fancy coloured CTR token.
You may ask what is the point of the relics and CTR tokens if all you require is the race wins and boss battles to progress through the worlds? Well, ultimately they unlock Gem Cups within the Gem Stone Valley area and also 2 additional tracks which you need to play through in order to achieve 100% completion of Adventure mode.
Adventure mode aside there are ofcourse other parts of CTRNF to have a play at.
Arcade mode allows you to undertake single races, cup races as well as battles, time trials, crystal challenges, CTR challenges and relic races. Here is also where you will have the chance to link up to 3 extra controllers and go 4 player split screen on some of the modes, perfect for those fun family gaming evenings or having your friends over. Bragging rights are certainly up for grabs here! Myself and the boys all had great fun playing the various battle modes with “Last Kart Driving” being one of our favourites whereby you each have 3 lives and the goal is to knock everyone else out. Ruthless.
Online mode lets you either setup a private lobby, matchmake against the world or play against friends. Tracks are voted on by the lobby and you have a brief amount of time to select your character and customise your ride. You earn a decent amount of Wumpa coins for each race you take part in and this helps you purchase items in the Pit Stop. One moan I would probably have here is that when I was matchmaking I sometimes struggled to find full lobbies or even find anyone to join at all. Seeing as CTRNF is currently number 1 in the gaming charts in the UK, I would have expected more people online although I guess CTRNF is predominantly about the single-player Adventure mode and local play.
I have read in a few forums that many people have issues with the loading times between races. I personally did not have that much waiting to do although I was playing CTRNF on my Playstation Pro which has been reported to be the better of the consoles when it comes to this.
The remastered CTRNF looks great, it isn’t in 4K or anything glam however it doesn’t really need it. The colourful characters are well drawn as are the vibrant tracks and detailed karts. I did not notice any glitches while hurtling around. There is an option to change the graphics back to the PS1 original ones which is a great nostalgic touch, however, let’s face it, you are here for the upgraded graphics really, particularly as generations that are new to CTRNF won’t possibly remember the previous games.
Straight from the loading screen you are serenaded with a familiar voice announcing CTRNF and it sends chills down your spine. The music is fun and bouncy, lending towards the comedy cartoon series you all know too well. Sound effects are not too dissimilar from the original games however they all become a blur around you as you focus on the race. Characters yell out as they pass you, explosions detonate around your living room and then, ofcourse, there is that annoying sound of a locked on homing missile to contend with!
CTRNF is not easy, so long as you don’t select the easy setting lol. It tests you and your patience and do not be surprised if it takes you 5 or even 10 attempts to get that elusive first place position. Each track needs to be memorised; where to power slide, where are the boosts located, are there any short cuts available. As I mentioned earlier on Adventure mode there are in effect 3 game modes to complete on each track and this will take a fairly long time to beat depending on your skill and on occasion, luck. The awarding of Wumpa coins can take a while to build up a decent enough balance to enable you to purchase items such as characters from the daily deals however this may get tweaked later on if Activision discovers that it is taking too long to accrue them.
With upto 4 player local splitscreen enabling frantic racing and battling as well as the chance to take the racing online, there is enough to keep you entertained for a long long time, while enjoying the resurrection of all things Bandicoot. Beenox has definitely smashed it with this remaster. Now c’mon Activision, bring us Tony Hawks!
Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled receives the prestigious Thumb Culture Platinum Trophy!
Read more of Jas’s reviews here!