In the 1990’s pretty much all but one kart racer dominated the scene and even to this very day, Mario Kart is the measuring bar for the much loved genre. Since Nintendo led the pack at pole position, many had come along for a slice of the pie, but in truth, many had crashed and burned, never to reach the finishing line. However, there were two other kart racers that gave Mario Kart a good run for their money back in the day, Nintendo’s other popular entry in Diddy Kong Racing and another on fierce rival console, the PlayStation with Crash Team Racing.
To be honest, my first experience of the Crash series was during that awesome scene in Uncharted 4 with Nate and Elena sat on the sofa, playing Crash Bandicoot on the PS1. This was followed by the Crash N. Sane Trilogy from 2017, and now my first experience playing CTR is with Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, a remake of the beloved 1999 classic, which not only includes content from the original, but also Crash Nitro Kart (2003) and Crash Team Racing (2005). So if you’re a n00b like me, and this is your first time playing a CTR, then there’s no better entry point then right now.
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In terms of modes, CTR Nitro-Fueled has plenty to offer. However to begin with, the chances are that you’ll first jump into the Adventure mode, which did appear in the original, yet in this modern update, we now have cinematic cut-scenes which help tell its bare bones, but fun story. The story follows big bad alien known as Nitro Oxide invading your planet and warns us that the only way he won’t destroy the planet and enslave us all, is by beating his chosen champions in a spot of kart racing. Seems fair enough to me, as I’m sure Crash and friends are more then up to the challenge to save the day once more.
The Adventure mode will consist of you karting your way around the designated areas, winning races to earn keys, which will then lead on to a boss battle race and if you beat that boss, you’ll move on to the next area and so on. There will also be a variety of challenge modes in each of the main areas, which gives you the opportunity to partake in a series of special races and challenges, in the aim of earning special items and even an opportunity to race in prestigious cup tournaments. As you beat each race and challenge, you’ll also earn parts to customise your karts appearance, as well as new characters, skins and more, which are new additional features to the CTR series.
Additionally, upon starting the Adventure mode, you’ll have the choice of either playing the new Nitro-Fueled mode, which allows you to fully customise your karts, change characters, as well as the difficulty and so forth. You also have Classic mode, which is based upon the original Adventure mode from the PS1, which has one difficultly, one driver and no customisation, but does offer the same rewards as the new Nitro-Fueled mode.
Away from the Adventure mode, we also have Local Arcade, with modes to play on your lonesome or against friends and family via couch co-op. Here you’ll find modes such as Single Race (32 tracks including 1 bonus DLC) tournaments, Battle Modes featuring 12 arenas, Time Trial, as well as Relic Race which requires you to collect all the relics within the time limit with each relic collected, granting you a little more time. Then you have CTR Challenge which requires you to collect the letters “C”, “T” and “R” within a race, and if you collect them all, and win the race, you’ll unlock special Cup tournaments. Finally, in Local Arcade is Crystal Challenge, which will have you collect all Crystals in an area with a strict time limit looming.
In terms of online multiplayer, a first for the series, despite being quite basic compared to some other racers, you can play all tracks and battle arenas, either against random players via the matchmaking system or privately against friends. In the most part, other than experiencing some lag on launch day, I’ve not had any problems, in-fact; it’s been quite a smooth and enjoyable experience since launch. However one feature that would have been welcomed are online leaderboards, just so that I can see how poorly I perform when compare against my friends and the big wide world. Hopefully this is a feature that developers might add at a later date. One last new feature worth mentioning is the Pit Stop. Here you can spend all earned in-game currency on a variety of timed deals such as character packs, karts, paint jobs, skins and more. Items on sale do rotate on a daily basis, but do not worry; as CTR Nitro-fueled features no real-world microtransactions.
In conclusion, even as a newcomer to this fan-favourite kart racer, it’s an absolute joy to play and I can see why it’s held in such high regard. Its visuals are colourful, vibrant and welcoming for all gamers alike, it’s easy to pick-up and play, yet it takes some patience for n00b’s such as myself to master the power-slide on corners to earn a speed boost, which certainly comes in handy when playing online. In recent months, we’ve been blessed with another kart racer in Team Sonic Racing and now with CTR Nitro-Fueled. Both of which may very well live in the shadow of Mario Kart, but at the end of the day, it’s all personal preference to which one prefers. However, this lovable Bandicoot is so close to being pipping the Italian plumber to pole position; it’s a great time to be a fan of the genre, and stepping out of the Mario Kart shadow,
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is one of the most fun kart racers to date and will surely be loved by the new generation of CTR fans.