My editor, Pix, recently got his hands on Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled on the Switch and has decided to write a review on my behalf. Enjoy!
Rumor has it that Naughty Dog made Crash Team Racing specifically to ruin the franchise from sheer ridiculousness with a premises of Aliens invading the world with racing cars. Some say the rumor is false, that Jason Rubin made shit up during interviews to make them more interesting. Even interviewers of other Naughty Dog devs at the time stated that devs were itching to make CTR during Crash 2’s development. Taking a look at the original game, I don’t see a trace of a game that was set to ruin the franchise. Crash Team Racing was an insanely fun and addictive kart game that put Mario Kart’s gameplay to shame. I played that game extensively as a child. Whenever I was at my cousin’s house there was not a moment to lose
Over the years, however, Mario Kart kept getting sequels to improve on its mechanics while CTR was running dry along with the Crash franchise. Nitro Kart was pretty-looking but it didn’t have the speed or adrenaline that the original was known for. The rest of the CTR games were a complete fucking wreck, thrown together and shat out to cash in what was left of the dying Crash franchise.
Once Crash Bandicoot, N. Sane Trilogy was announced, many fans including myself immediately became giddy at the sheer thought of a CTR remake or a reboot. Low and behold at the Game Awards, the first literal of frame had me screaming and shaking in excitement as a beloved Papu’s Pyramid map was glowing before me in full remastered graphics. To image, the speed and adrenaline of the original but the absolute glory of the HD remastered graphics of the new Crash and Spyro games. Months before I had to curb my excitement of the game so that I wouldn’t have a heart attack, waiting for the release of the game.
Finally, the day of arrival came as I quickly freed the cartridge and shoved it into my Switch and immediately sucked in hours and hours of games to get that sweet sweet 101% on the Adventure mode. After playing it for days, however I realized I wasn’t playing a remake at all, really. I felt like I was playing a whole new sequel. Sure, the maps are all remakes of the original and Nitro Kart, but the gameplay feels brand new with new characters from other Crash games, all each with new stats to diversify the game, and all the Nitro Kart maps being so wildly different from their original counterparts, visually and even design wise at parts, that CTR NF feels much more like a sequel to the CTR franchise rather than a reboot, even if there are a lot of reboot elements in the game.
Now that I have given a great deal of my background with the Crash and CTR franchise, I might as well actually tell you about the game itself. The game itself is already bloody excellent. One of my favorite parts is that it keeps the speed of the original, if not arguably faster, keeping the blood-pumping intensity of the racing that beats any Mario Kart game. The gameplay, if you haven’t played the original, is a mix of Nintendo 64 but with more abilities to speed-boost and is much faster in general, and different items of course. Lots of jumping, boosts and always having to be on your toes. CTR also has a constant speed on any difficulty, which is a wonderful thing to consider when a frustrating element of getting a new Mario Kart is to be slow as fuck with 50cc just to play with bots that won’t smash you while trying to get used to the game. Regardless, I play on Medium anyways and I’ve been having an absolute blast for the past weekend. Each map is beautifully crafted and revised, albeit the extra bystandards can get distracting and are unnecessary, the Adventure mode is fun and challenging as ever with beautiful cutscenes and absolutely gorgeous level design for the hub. The fact that you can earn gold to earn cosmetics with a Fortnite-rotating store is, honestly, a thing that I love as well. Comparatively to micro-transactions and lootboxes, a free currency but an exclusive rotating store is one I will happily take any day.
The only two major problems that have yet to be fixed are Loading Screens and the Online. Loading screens take 30 seconds to a minute to load for each map. Its understandable, since God knows how many polygons are used in each map. However, it gets tiresome after a while because of how long you have to wait, especially when you’re doing constant level jumping to get Relic Runs or CTR challenges to complete more of the adventure mode. The tips are repetitive and usually things you already know, so the loading screens become a chore to watch.
One other thing I sorely miss from CTR is the cool race-flag menu as the entire menu’s background is a waving flag. You sorta get the checkered pattern in the back but it’s not nearly as interesting. Then, of course, the fuckin trophy girls. It’s not a horrible loss or anything, but the victory screens aren’t nearly as interesting and feel like there’s a lack of energy. However, these trophy girls are set to be actual characters as well as Tawna and even Spyro as post-launch content, and I think that’s a fantastic trade. There’s also supposed to be a battlepass-esq mode coming soon on July 3rd that unlocks the upcoming characters and, it’s one of those “we’ll have to wait and see” things. I like the idea but it’s unknown how much you have to pay for these passes if at all.
Another minor complaint is that some of the newer characters feel… off. Even being united with the original characters under one style, they still don’t look like they’re part of the Crash universe aside for one or two characters. There’s no Rilla Roo (not to be confused with Ripper Roo), Koala Kong or Dr. Nitrus but instead we have Norm and Big Norm that I don’t think anyone cares about. Speaking of Rilla Roo, Koala Kong and Dr. Nitrus, where’s the remake for Crash Bash?
Overall, I think the game as of current is absolutely amazing. The gameplay is intense and fun as ever, the adventure mode is challenging and fun as ever, the Nitro Kart maps are fucking beautiful as well as the older maps. Do I even need to talk about the graphics? I know they don’t make the game but with it as a major feature it’s absolutely Keanu Reeves-level of breathtaking. It’s online mode is faulty but still fun, the future content looks promising and I can’t get enough of this game. It’s an absolute blast and I fully recommend it if you constantly use a Switch/Xbox/PS4 and have a spare $40.