Admittedly, I didn’t play much of Crash Team Racing when it first released on the PS1 as Mario Kart took up a lot of my time. So, when it was announced that CTR would be getting a remake, I naively believed that it would be an easy game to jump into and play.
This is one of the most challenging racing games on the market today. Don’t let the bright, cartoonish graphics fool you, CTR requires both skill and luck to complete a race. The AI is unforgiving and will be quick to punish if you happen to miss an opportunity to boost. Mastering the power-slide is key to victory as every turn matters and could be the difference in close races.
If you happen to be stuck in a close race, good luck, the AI will throw every offensive weapon at you and will rarely give you time to room to breathe. Their movement is practically perfect and their aim will make you second guess your life-choices. It’s not that they can be bested in close races, it’s just recommended you be as efficient as possible or risk a rough loss.
With that being said, the game is incredibly fun and with its difficulty, winning feels far more rewarding than its kart-racing counterparts. There are 32 tracks to choose from and each are relatively perfect in length. The original tracks are far tighter than the Nitro Kart selections, which are wider, granting the player more maneuverability, making them feel easier in comparison. All of the tracks feel distinct and even the easiest can be fun to replay.
Adventure mode returns, allowing new and old players to acclimate to the game mechanics and the various tracks. Completing courses will unlock time trials and challenge modes, all staples of the Crash Team Racing franchise. There are also boss challenges, which are as difficult as you remember, completing these require incredible skill and timing as these bosses will catch-up regardless of how far ahead you get.
In addition, you can choose to race in Arcade or online, both featuring a wealth of options to choose from. Online has a battle mode, which can be pretty fun but really short depending on how you configure the match. Racing with friends is always a good time and the AI is always available to harass you, but there are options to adjust the difficulty.
Brutal difficulty aside, CTR Nitro Fueled Can be an absolute blast. Yes, it will frustrate you, especially given the overly-aggressive nature of the AI, but with enough practice, these difficulty spikes can be overcome. Every victory earns you currency, which can be spent at the Pit Stop, which acts as the in-game store. Fret not, there are no micro-transactions as you’re given a fairly decent amount for completing objectives.
Skins, characters, karts, and stickers can either be unlocked through the Pit Stop or by completing Adventure mode. Currently, there are 26 characters, with eight being initially unlocked. By the team you complete Adventure mode, you’ll have a majority of the characters with the rest being in the store. For a kart racer, this game has a lot of content.
Best part? It’s only 40 dollars, an insane value for everything included. This is a game that was made for both fans of the original and newcomers. If you want a racer that will challenge you, Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled is right up your alley.