When it comes to kart racing games, Mario Kart has been on top since the beginning, and while others have made valiant attempts at gaining ground and potentially taking over the franchise juggernaut, they always fall short in a few specific ways, creating a good, but not a great, racing experience.
For once, the tables might have turned, as Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled (Crash Team Racing from here on out) is easily the best Crash Team Racing title ever released, and rivals Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in many ways! Let’s dive in!
Right off the top, it’s important to note that Crash Team Racing is complete remaster of older titles, but it’s a damn good one. Our own Will Pennell wrote about this extensively, of which I’ve copied a bit below:
“Instead of a reskin/re-render, CTR Nitro-Fueled has been built from scratch with the singular goal of creating a game as true to the original, but for 2019. I must say, they knocked it out of the park. For those interested, there are some direct comparison videos on YouTube that will show you just how well Beenox executed this tricky remake.
The game still retains its cartoony appearance and it absolutely brings you back to the old days of CTR, or Diddy Kong Racing, for those who are more familiar with that title. CTR Nitro-Fueled has similar driving mechanics, the open-world driving between races – complete with your friendly tiki guide to remind you when you inevitably try to enter an area you are not yet qualified for – and all of the characters you know and love from previous games in the franchise.”
From top to bottom, Crash Team Racing looks fantastic, sounds fantastic, and handles fantastic, although the game is less forgiving than Mario Kart has ever been. Executing perfect drifts around corners isn’t something you will master in your first few races, but rather it is something you will need perfect race after race after race.
And with tons of modes to enjoy, and a great story mode that Mario Kart can only wish they have, there is not shortage of things to occupy your time in this title. Everything is fantastic, but ultimately, story mode is what highlights this package.
Remember the good days of Diddy Kong Racing? When developers took the kart racing experience and tailored it to an open world experience? Enter Crash Team Racing, which has revamped the original title to create the closest thing to Diddy Kong Racing we’ve had, but updated for 2019. And the story mode is executed brilliantly. After completing all the races in a specific area, players are pushed onto the next area, and so-on until they have completed the game. With 30 odd tracks to enjoy, the robust story mode will take hours to complete, and even more hours to 100%. And with multiple reasons to replay each level – getting first, finding CTR, etc. – it’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with the tracks before jumping into multiplayer action!
And while playing on the Nintendo Switch, I was surprised about how well this game held up. The only dips in frame rate that were noticeable for me was during battle mode, but this brilliant mode almost made me forget the small technical problems. From Capture to the Flag, to Last Kart Standing, to choosing how a battle unfolds, this is easily the best way to have fun with other players, even more fun than circling the games many outstanding tracks. With some great areas to battle in, this will quickly become the most played mode in this title. It was great in the original, and it’s equally – if not a tad better – now!
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you play Crash Team Racing. No matter where you turn, there are gorgeous visuals meeting you around every corner. The open world is incredibly detailed, and tracks even more so. I walked away from Crash Team Racing thinking, “Wow, these might be better than Mario Kart tracks!” While Activision hasn’t had the consistency that Nintendo has had over multiple titles, they did a great job with this single release. If Activision announced a new Crash Team Racing today, I’d be ready to jump on board, no questions asked.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch!