Impressions: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled – Just As Fast As You Remember

After re-falling in love with PlayStation classics such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, it comes as no surprise that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is miles of fun and a pure sugar rush of nostalgia. I was at MCM London Comic Con last Saturday, and was lucky enough to get the chance to try out the demo of CTR Nitro-Fueled at the Sony stall, racing around re-creations of Papu’s Pyramid and Crash Cove.

I’ll admit to being a bit worried when we found out “nitro-fueled” would be in the title. As good as the 2003 Crash Nitro Kart was, it was nothing on the previous Crash Team Racing in terms of gameplay, feeling much slower and boasting a less colorful world than before.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down for my demo to be greeted with the color scheme of the N. Sane Trilogy and the goofy character designs ripped straight from a cartoon, as you can see in the trailer of the game’s adventure mode. But most importantly, this has the speed of CTR. The Nitro Kart in this game is purely aesthetic through characters, stages and vehicles.

The line might have been long, but it was definitely worth it (both times).

Getting my hands on this demo only adds to the excitement for the release, following all the updates on the development. Developer Beenox seem to be pushing for slight changes, while keeping the original fanbase happy, as seen through adding Nitro Kart’s characters and stages. However, the team is also sticking to a Team Racing aesthetic, tweaking the adventure mode to allow for character changes after races as well as difficulty settings. But if you want the original experience, there’s a “classic” adventure mode without these features.

One interesting thing we noted gameplay wise was a potential attempt at balancing the roster. Any Crash Team Racing veteran will know that the best characters to use in time trials were Coco and N. Gin (unless you were lucky enough to have the PAL version with a Godlike Penta Penguin). However, while playing as Coco, I found myself messing up turns on Papu’s Pyramid that I’ve been doing fine for 20 years. In the last hurdle of the course, unless I started putting on the brakes, I would crash into the Bandicoot-eating plant without fail. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve been playing the original as recently as last month, and still struggled. So if you’re a longtime Crash Team Racing fan, don’t think this will be a walk in the park.

Yours truly, going for the record on Crash Cove (photo credits: Jo Osborne)

It’s also worth mentioning something we noticed while waiting for our turn on the demo. Twice, the game crashed on the PlayStation 4s and had to be rebooted, coming up with some sort of error message. It certainly didn’t seem to be an issue with the consoles, and with less than a month until release, hopefully we won’t have our races interrupted as they were at the convention.

Another thing we noticed is that, while we had around four karts to choose from, none made any stat differences. True, this is faithful to the original, however, racing games have evolved since then. Ever since Mario Kart Wii in 2008, vehicles with different stats are more or less a mainstay in the genre. There was certainly no need for a Mario Kart 7 create-your-own kart system, but some variety would have been a welcome stray from the original.

It seems Coco has been dethroned as the Queen of speedruns

If you’re like me, the music in the original was the soundtrack of your childhood, and I can assure you won’t be disappointed. The tunes are the same as you remember them, just re-recorded with crisp quality, more instruments and more bass. From what we heard of Papu’s Pyramid, less is changed than the Spyro Reignited Trilogy‘s remastered soundtrack, but just like Spyro, you can still choose to go back to the classics if you’d like.

E3 awaits between now and the racer’s release date, June 21. So I’ll look forward to seeing what else they cram into this absolute treat of a game. As long as technical issues are ironed out, this is sure to be the cherry on top of the Crash Bandicoot remasters.

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