Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled instantly transports me back to 1999, with its familiar tracks and the vivid bright cartoon colours. But this remaster is far from stuck in the past: visually, its stunning with vivid details around every corner and animations that give each character plenty of personality, that make you giggle.
CTR Nitro-Fueled has an Adventure mode, local and online play, five battle modes, and three challenge modes building on the foundation of the original, but what matters most is how it feels to get behind the wheel. It definitely succeeds at this, it feel awesome controlling these characters, and I am huge Mario Kart fan and I have to say this game is quicker. The karts are fast in nature, but the power-slide mechanic takes that speed to another level. Power sliding, aka drifting, is a classic mechanic across kart racers but CTR Nitro-Fueled has a unique approach to it, and involves perfect timing to get the most speed and boost out of it. The amount of feedback the turbo meter gives you makes power sliding easy to understand and yet still hard to master, it took me a few times to master it and I still don’t always get it right. You know exactly when and why you fail. And when you succeed, you can feel proud as you slide to victory.
31 race single tracks are available for you to whizz round in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled cutting across both Crash Team Racing and Vicarious Visions’ 2003 sequel, Crash Nitro Kart. Although a little down side is in adventure mode you only play the orinigal CTR tracks which takes it down to 17. Which they could have made adventure mode longer perhaps?
I adored just about every single one of them, from sewers that encourage major power sliding to tunnels completely lined with turbo boosts. And although they have predictable patterns, environmental obstacles prove to be an actual challenge, as getting your timing right when the barrels fall or lining yourself up properly avoid the man eating plants on key corners, its great you have more to think about than just driving.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled’s mandatory fast-pace and lack of catch-up items make it the most exhilarating kart racer I’ve played. The casual nature of kart racers and the skill it takes to master CTR feel at odds at times. While I find the rigour unique and refreshing, it makes it hard to pass the controller to those who are less seasoned. Mario Kart takes skill too, but items like Bullet Bill make it easy to get a decent finish even if you drove poorly.
Aside from some of the earlier tracks and cups, getting first in CTR is very challenging. You have to power slide like no tomorrow and get your timings right every time, while dealing with the randomness of your opponents’ arsenals. But getting first in every single track in order to unlock the boss and then beating the boss to progress to the next area can be grueling. I actually the first time in years, raged quit this game because of sewer speedway level in adventure mode.
Time trials are straightforward: get the fastest time you can and race against ghost versions of yourself as you try to beat the CPU high score. The Crystal Challenge is a little boring: grab all the crystals (in the circular arenas exclusive to Battle modes) before time runs out. It’s a challenge, sure, but not an especially interesting one.
On the other hand the Relic Race and CTR challenge are two of the best modes in CTR Nitro-Fueled. Relic Races involve beating the track under a set amount of time – just like the Time Trial, here you’re racing alone but with an added twist in which numbered crates pause the timer for 1, 2, or 3 seconds, respectively ( I have earned my bronze relic on coco park and I want more). This adds a new layer of excitement and strategy to otherwise familiar tracks. CTR Challenge mode requires you to collect the letters C, T, and R while also finishing in first place to beat the track. This combination of having to locate the letters, successfully grab them, and also manage to have a clean race adds a fun dimension to racing, and also more rage to it as well.
The very memorable track design, and addictive Power Slide mechanic make it a kart racer worth playing, especially competitively. In single-player it’s richer than what the genre normally provides. Overall, a new HUD, cosmetic options, and the ability to swap characters during the campaign mean there’s simply no contest between playing this and the 1999 original.
I would recommend watching or reading a few hints and tips about this game, just because some things like turbo boost take a bit of figuring out and making use of jump at the peak on a hill is key as well, the longer your in the high the better boost you get when hitting the ground.
I love this game, having so much fun playing it at the moment, enjoy that you can just pick it up and race like with Mario Kart.