After almost twenty years, three console cycles, and two overshadowed sequels, Crash Team Racing is back. With Activision’s recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro remakes having been a romping success, it was only a matter of time before we saw this stone cold classic back out on the track with a fresh lick of paint.
In truth, Beenox has done more than simply remove a few dents and given it a quick oil check. Crash Team Racing has been rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation and with more than a few surprises in tow. Mario Kart 8 has had an easy run to the karting crown these past few years, left almost completely unchallenged. That ends now.
If you put Nitro-Fueled up against the original PlayStation classic, there’s certainly a difference in how these two games play. This modern reincarnation has a lighter, more delicate feel to it all round. As a purist, this was enough to put me off at first, but when Nitro-Fuelled finally clicks, when you’re blitzing through tracks, triple boosting into long drifts and flawlessly smashing those shortcuts, it feels absolutely electric.
Beenox has done an excellent job in rounding out some of those janky edges to create its own unique handling model; this game is both very approachable and yet rewarding for speedsters who learn its various ins and outs.
What set Crash Team Racing apart from its kart racing competitors at the time was a proper story mode, featuring a hub world to zoom around and familiar characters to interact with. Beenox hasn’t cut any corners in bringing Adventure back almost two decades later, cramming in all seventeen tracks as well as the game’s bounty of relic and token races among other optional side content. If you put your foot down, beating Nitros Oxide should only take a few hours, though there’s plenty of reasons to keep coming back again and again.
It wasn’t revealed until some time after last year’s announcement, but there’s also a huge wedge of content here that’s been lifted from Crash Nitro Kart too. While it would have been nice to see Beenox work this into CTR’s Adventure mode somehow, we can hardly scoff at having almost twice the number of tracks to play on.
Then there’s the characters. Nitro-Fuelled has a jam-packed roster of fan favourites as well as those sidekicks and villains who appeared in later Crash games. I’ll probably end up sticking with Dingodile, but it’s great to see Beenox bring aboard so many racers, each with their own unlockable skins and costumes. Having that extra layer of customisation goes a surprisingly long way, especially knowing that new cosmetics are in the pipeline.
The amount of love and attention to detail that has gone into recreating Crash Team Racing is remarkable. Those original tracks packed in so much character despite the limitations of the original PlayStation hardware. Here, in 2019, these same circuits have been given a full-on facelift, yet still burst with nostalgia. The exact same can be said of Nitro-Fuelled soundtrack – it’s a double thumbs up from us.