Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled is a remake of the PS1 game, Crash Team Racing. I haven’t spent much time with the original Crash Team Racing, I went through adventure mode once and then moved on, so most of the remake is new to me. I was completely unaware of how much depth there is to this game and how high the skill cap is.

I’ve seen some talk of how the game is dead and it’s not worth playing anymore, but as an exclusively offline player, I can say that this game is still well worth playing.

When you first boot up the game, you get greeted with a recreaction of the original splashscreens and animations. You’re then met with Crash Bandicoot holding a trophy and grinning madly – if you wait a while, he’ll get jaw ache from grinning so much and rub his face.

The first thing you’ll probably want to do in the game is play Adventure Mode. In this mode you’ll get taught how to play, get to see the story and play through the game level by level. There’s an option to play classic or modern mode, with classic locking the difficulty and the character you play as. I chose modern, since I was looking forward to all the characters I could play as! The difficulty settings offer a good range – easy is good for beginners just learning the game, normal is somewhat challenging and hard is ruthlessly difficult, requiring you to become a CTR master!

Once the game starts, you’re dropped off in the hub world, ready to drive around and enter the first level. Your primary goal is to come first in all the races. Doing so will give you a trophy.

Once you’ve collected enough trophies you can face a boss level, which is a repeat of a track 1 v 1 with the boss. The boss will hurl various items at you to try and trip you up, so it’s important to get ahead of them to avoid their attacks. Beating the boss will get you a key. You can use keys to unlock new areas in the hub world, letting you go to new tracks, etc etc.

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled includes remakes of all the classic tracks from the original Crash Team Racing, but it also includes remakes of all the tracks from the not-so-popular Crash Nitro Kart. Throughout the lifespan of the game, there were also multiple updates to add completely original bonus tracks. Overall there’s about 45 tracks to choose from!

Basic Mechanics

The basic mechanics of the game involve picking a driving style, with a choice of either turn, speed, acceleration, balanced or drift (drift is an additional style not found in the original game). Once you’re in a race, you can pick up various weapons to get an advantage over your opponents. Other than that, you’re going to have to beat them with good driving. The tracks are literred with turbo pads to give you a speed boost. In the absence of those, you have to use power slide boosts to get your speed up.

You can tap (and hold) a button to hop, then turn to the left or right to go into a power slide when your kart lands. Once in a powerslide, you must wait for the opportune moment and press the boost button. You can get a “good” boost, or wait a little longer and get a “perfect” boost, but wait too long and you’ll hear your engine backfire and you’ll miss your opportunity. You can chain up to three powerslides and you’ll get some extra boost power if you do so. Although it sounds simple, it’s a mechanic that’s easy to pick up and difficult to master. If you bonk into a wall, you lose all your speed, so you’ll have to learn to be able to power slide precisely.

Story

This game has a little story to go alongside Adventure Mode. An alien called Nitrous Oxide threatens to enslave everyone and concrete over the Earth and turn it into a gigantic parking lot unless somebody can beat him at a race. All the Crash Bandicoot heroes and villains get their racing karts ready to go to compete in races! That’s it. It’s a bit silly, but I appreciate effort put in!

On your run through adventure mode, various bosses will heckle you and insist they’re the fastest kart racer around. Once you beat them, they’ll tell you there’s a huge weight on your shoulders and you’ll never beat Oxide, then they give you a key to access the next area of the hub world.

Ripper Roo hands over his key

The original game only features the bosses sat in their karts talking to you, but the remake has full cutscenes of how the bosses approach you and how they hand over their keys. These cutscenes range from humerous, to mildly horrific, with Ripper Roo handing over his key by hacking and choking it up from his stomach.

Unlockables (and microtransactions)

This game has a huge roster of characters, character skins, karts, paint jobs, stickers and wheels to customise your player and vehicle. Although I enjoy the huge number of characters, it can feel completely overwhelming to unlock them all at times.

Some characters and karts are unlocked by completing certain tasks, either in adventure mode or by completing challenges. Some skins can be unlocked by winning a certain number of races with a particular character, but the vast majority of things are unlocked at the “Pit Stop” – a virtual shop.

There’s a (very unpopular) microtransaction system in the game using the virtual currency “Wumpa Coins”. You can earn these by racing, getting about 50 coins for a 3 lap race. There’s a x2 multiplier for playing on the weekend and for your first hour of online play, you get a 5x bonus. I don’t play online, so my coins trickle in at a pretty miserable rate.

I’m in the process of unlocking all characters, but I’m not sure I ever will manage to. I have 13 left, and at 1500 coins each, I need 19500 coins. If I decided to only play at the weekend, I need to play around 195 races to get all the characters.

Worse still, wheels for your kart cost 2500 coins each and I haven’t purchased a single set of wheels.

For the vast majority of items in the shop, you can’t unlock them in-game, you have to save up your Wumpa Coins. Even with the microtransactions (which I will never use), it would cost an absolute fortune in real money to unlock everything.

Overall, I think the items are way too expensive and the majority people are extremely unlikely to reach the point where they’ve unlocked everything.

Racing in Hot Air Skyway

Skill Cap and Advanced Mechanics

If you’re enjoying the game, you’ll probably eventually head to the time trials to try and improve your driving skills. Here you’ll be able to unlock the chance to race “ghosts” if you get a good enough time. Once you’ve unlocked a ghost, you can challenge them and try to beat their time.

There’s four tiers of ghosts – the N. Tropy ghosts, N. Oxide ghosts, Emporer Velo ghosts and the developer ghosts. The N. Tropy ghosts are the easiest to beat, although as a beginner, I still had trouble with them. Once I’d beaten all the N. Tropy ghosts, I’d improved so much I mostly breezed through the N. Oxide ghosts. Even so, some of the harder tracks were taking me an hour or two to beat, and given that there’s two even more difficult tiers to beat, I can’t see myself getting much further.

If you start looking online for some tips online, you’ll probably come some advanced and completely hidden mechanics. I’ll go over them here:

The reserves system – every time you either hit a boost pad or get a boost from a power slide, you’ll add to your reserves. The more reserves you have, the longer you can keep your boosts and therefore the faster you go! You have to keep hitting boost pads and getting power slide boosts to keep your reserves high, or you’ll run out and your kart will slow down to a crawl again.

On the more difficult time trials, you need to have a good understanding of this to beat the ghosts. This makes the tracks a lot more challenging at a higher level, because you need to navigate them at much higher speeds whilst trying to maintain your reserves to keep that speed!

U-turning – this is a pretty tricky and confusing mechanic at first. By hopping, then holding down+left/right and the handbrake button, you can take very sharp turns that you wouldn’t normally be able to. It took me a long while to understand this mechanic and to develop the muscle memory to actually do it, but it’s seriously improved my maneuvorability and it’s worth learning if you want to start playing the game at a higher level.

There are more, unintentional mechanics, such as “speed ghost” and “Polswid” technique, but these are mostly left to the very highest level of play (i.e. speedrunning) and can actually be quite controversial, as they involve re-mapping your gamepad to work.

Other Modes

If you’re fed up of time trials or if you’ve already achieved all the trophies in adventure mode, there’s plenty of extra modes to explore.

In adventure mode you can compete in relic races and challenges to collect CTR tokens.

Relic Races are like time trials, except with crates scattered around which freeze the timer for 1-3 seconds. This combines the speed of time trials with some precision driving and course knowlege. You’re rewarded with either sapphire, gold or platinum relics depending on your time. Gold or better is required to 101% complete adventure mode. All relics are required for getting the true end of the game.

CTR challenges mostly require you to collect the letters C, T and R whilst also coming first in a race. You also collect CTR tokens from crystal challenges, in which you race around an arena trying to pick up 25 crystals within a time limit. Collecting CTR tokens unlocks the gem cups. These are sets of 4 races to compete in. If you come first overall in the cup, you’ll be rewarded with a gem.

If you head into “local arcade”, you’ll find that relic races and CTR challenges have been added to every single new track as well, so if for some reason you wanted to, you can compete in those as well!

There’s even more to explore as well – there’s ring rally, a mode in which you have to drive through rings to get boosts and increase your alloted time. This will help you develop your driving skills, precision and your ability to control higher speeds.

There’s even more crystal challenges to play. There’s also battle arenas with a few different modes. All races and battles support couch co-op, which is great for when you’re allowed to have friends over!

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled is the most fun I’ve had with a game in a really long time. I’ve dedicated weeks to improving my skills at the game and I’ve played hours of couch co-op races. Even after weeks of playing, I feel like I still have so much more to do in the game. Even if you’re not really into kart racing games, I highly recommend this because this is about as good as they get.

Screenshots taken from Longplay Archive’s Longplay video

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