Crash Bandicoot returns with a bang

The updated courses of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled - set in futuristic worlds, pirate-filled seas, underground sewers and rock-filled canyons - are visually stunning and packed with detail.
The updated courses of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled - set in futuristic worlds, pirate-filled seas, underground sewers and rock-filled canyons - are visually stunning and packed with detail.

It sure is a good time to be a Crash Bandicoot fan.

Fresh off the successful remake of the original trilogy of the iconic orange marsupial's PlayStation games, publisher Activision has gifted us with another release of a classic game from the franchise: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.

Fans will be delighted that this remake of 1999's Crash Team Racing is as good as the original. For newcomers, it means the monopoly Mario has on modern kart-racing games is now over.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a fast-paced and action-packed wacky racer with 31 race tracks featuring iconic characters from the Crash Bandicoot universe, over-the-top items and power-ups such as TNT crates, rockets and bombs.

Local split-screen and online multiplayer - for playing with other gamers - are likely the modes players will use the most in this game, but the single-player campaign is a nice introduction to the different courses available.

The campaign's plot is typical of a game like this, but tight controls and excellent graphics are where the game shines.

It does not take long to figure out the controls, including the power-sliding mechanic that allows you to get multiple boosts if you drift successfully. But do not let the simplicity of power sliding fool you - it is easy to learn, but hard to master.

  • FOR

    • Great graphics that immerse players into the world of Crash Bandicoot 

    • Tight controls 

    • Wide variety of unique race courses

  • AGAINST

    • Long load times, especially on the Switch 

    • Frustrating boss fights

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $54.90 (PS4, version tested; Nintendo Switch; Xbox One)

    GENRE: Racing game

    RATING: 8.5/10

In hair-raising races where the competition gets really close, a small boost from a successful power slide - or missing a power-up due to a mistimed drift - can make the difference between coming in first or second.

But this is what makes the game so good. The same cannot be said of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which offers what is known as "catch-up" items. These items are used to target players in the lead and can be the cause of a person backsliding from first to last in a matter of seconds.

All the updated Crash courses are visually stunning and packed with detail. Many stages are set in locales reminiscent of stages from previous games, complete with familiar characters. The remake also includes content from 2003's Crash Nitro Kart and 2005's Crash Tag Team Racing, so there is a lot of variety in the race courses.

It takes effort not to be distracted by the details brimming in tracks set in futuristic worlds, pirate-filled seas, underground sewers and rockfilled canyons when racing on them for the first time.

The five battle modes, while not breaking new ground, also provide some variety.

The game, however, is not without speed bumps.

Loading times are noticeably long and, when I tried the game on a Nintendo Switch, the wait seemed even longer, to the point where some of my friends wanted to stop playing altogether.

Some courses are frustratingly difficult in single player and, in one-on-one showdowns, bosses sometimes seem impossible to beat. I had trouble playing in Medium difficulty and cannot imagine playing the game in Hard.

But the game is still fun and the title's overall experience is one I would recommend.

The wide variety of race courses, power-ups and characters guarantees hours of nail-biting race finishes and, based on the long queues I saw at the game's booth at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, it looks like Crash Bandicoot is here to stay.

Hopefully, we can get a new game next and not just another remake.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2019, with the headline 'Crash Bandicoot returns with a bang'. Print Edition | Subscribe