The nineties was an era of mascots and platformers that either threw bad parties filled with mini games or revved up their go karts to race through fantastical worlds. At the time these games felt almost endless by how many were coming out. Now kart racers definitely feel like a rarity. There’s been one racer however with a pretty large fan following that many have been awaiting for its return. Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled brings the 1999 favorite back, fully remastered with plenty of new bells and whistles that puts it up there with the best racers in the genre.
Nitro Fueled brings all 17 tracks from the original release and beautifully remakes them. I really appreciated a lot of the visual upgrades these tracks received, as I remembered some of the stages feeling a little bland in the original release. The tracks have a lot more character now, which of course is now possible because of more powerful hardware,but also because of great art design and little touches that make them pop. On top of the original tracks returning, another 13 tracks were remade and brought over from Crash Nitro Kart, as well as the cast of characters from those games. Some of these characters feel right at home but others feel a little out of place next to some of the anthropomorphic animal characters from the earlier games.
One thing that helped the original game stand out was the adventure mode, which also returns. Explore a hub world and win races to collect trophies and take on the bosses of each area. Most bosses and races are fairly challenging even on the medium difficulty. Some of this difficulty is frustrating because it stems from how A.I. is rubber banded to the player. Even a single mistake could lead to a race lost, and trying to catch up feels unforgiving, especially when I’m pulling off well timed drift boosts and A.I. opponents are still keeping ahead only feet in front of me doing nothing. There is an easy difficulty option but the jump in difficulty is not the best. On easy I’m miles ahead with nothing going on and on medium I can barely keep ahead of the pack, so ultimately if you’re looking for a challenge it’s here. You can also do CTR challenges were you’ll have to find the letter’s C,T & R hidden around the tracks, and Relic Challenges which are a fun take on time trial races that have you breaking through numbered boxes that stop the clock depending on the number and will help you finish the race in time. All the Nitro Kart stages have these different modes available for them as well,but they are not incorporated in the adventure mode in any way. While this makes sense in the spirit of being faithful to the original mode, it would have been nice if they implemented them at least a little as some of these stages are the most visually impressive.
Along with being remade with modern visuals, a lot of features from modern games made their way in as plenty of online multiplayer options are available. You can race on any track or do battle mode online with up to 8 players in matchmaking or private matches with a group of friends. There’s now a pretty robust selection of customization items to unlock on top of characters. The original cast of racers are still unlocked the same way,mostly through completing adventure mode,but the new cast of characters and a lot of custom items are now in the in-game shop called the Pit Stop. As you complete races in any mode you’ll gain coins to unlock racers, paint jobs, kart bodies and wheels. These are all cosmetic and there’s no microtransactions involved, but these unlocks could keep you playing for awhile trying to grind out coins if you want a particular item.
Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled went above and beyond with making a faithful to the original remake of a classic title,but the addition of Nitro Kart tracks and customization options makes for a fully featured package that will delight die hard fans of the original and fans of kart racing games at large.
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro system with a review code provided by a PR representative for the game.