When Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy launched, many were taken aback by its high level of difficulty compared to many modern platformers, with some even likening the collection (especially the first game) to the ultra-hard difficulty in Dark Souls. The difficulty in Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy was exaggerated a bit, but the same can't be said about the Crash Team Racing remake Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, which is quite possibly the toughest kart racing game ever made and by a significant margin.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is unapologetic about its difficulty, forcing players to perform near-flawlessly to complete some of the later tracks in Adventure Mode. Unlike games like Mario Kart where pretty much anyone can pick up the controller and win, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled requires practice, track memorization, picking the right character for each situation, and mastering its drifting and power slide mechanics if players hope to get through the game on even Medium difficulty.
While some will be turned off by the high difficulty level in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, the end result is a kart racer that is actually quite satisfying to conquer. The skill required to be truly good at the game also makes it more rewarding to put in the time to learn all of its quirks, and having to constantly be speed boosting through drifting and jumps makes it a more engaging game from one lap to the next.
Where this approach stumbles a bit is the inclusion of randomized items players can pick up, as this potentially throws skill out of the window in favor of random chance. There's nothing more frustrating than finally getting to the end of a tough track in first place, only for NPCs to blast you with three rockets in a row, and ending the race dead last. The items can add fun to the game when playing casually, but their inclusion in Adventure Mode stands at odds with the game's desire to be a skill-based kart racer.
It would have also been nice to have a difficulty level that's more accessible, yet still challenging. What Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled has instead is a Medium difficulty level that is quite punishing, and an Easy difficulty level that's such a breeze it's boring. There needs to be some middle ground, as we wager that there are many people who will simply give up on completing Adventure Mode, especially when trying to beat some of its bosses.
Adventure Mode in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will be polarizing due to its difficulty, and while we wish there was a wider range of difficulty options, we still came away impressed. Those who like a challenge will have a great time with it, and the added fluff like cut-scenes in the remake makes worth playing through even for someone who played the original game to death.
Of course, Adventure Mode isn't the only game mode Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled has to offer, and players will have plenty to do in the game, even after they reach 101 percent completion. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is absolutely stuffed with content, with players able to jump into Time Trials, different race types against NPCs and in local multiplayer, and take on other racers online. As far as kart racers go, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled may very well be the most content-rich that's ever been made.
Not only does Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled serve as a remake of the original Crash Team Racing, but it also includes content seen in Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. This includes the playable characters from those games, so there are plenty of racers to unlock in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, not to mention a variety of other cosmetics to collect as well.
Players purchase the characters and cosmetics in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled at the Pit Stop using Wumpa Coins, which serve as the in-game currency (that thankfully can't be purchased with microtransactions). Wumpa Coins are earned after completing any kind of race or event, win or lose, and are the main form of progression in the game. Since players still earn some Wumpa Coins when they fail, it helps keep players feeling like they're still making progress to unlock everything, even when they're stuck on a particular race in Adventure Mode or are not quite good enough to beat other players online.
In our testing, we found that the online multiplayer in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled worked quite well, with no issues getting into races and no lag or technical problems once in an event. However, it is disappointing that there is no split-screen/online support, so that multiple players on one console can face others online. Other kart racers, like the recent Mario Kart games for instance, support split-screen/online, and so it seems like an oversight that the feature isn't included in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
Perhaps split-screen/online support could be added to Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled in a future update. After all, Beenox and Activision appear to be supporting the game for the long-term, largely through special Grand Prix events that offer various rewards that players can earn by completing challenges. We've had the chance to try the first Grand Prix event before writing our review, and the added rewards, including brand new characters, make everything one does in the game even more rewarding. It seems like Grand Prix events are going to be live pretty consistently as well, so players will almost always have something new to do in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
Future Grand Prix events are set to add characters from the Spyro the Dragon franchise, which is sure to be exciting for fans of PS1-era platformers. It's safe to say that anyone who has nostalgia for Spyro or Crash will likely have a great time with Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, and while the difficulty will be polarizing, the game is stuffed with content, and since it's available at a budget price, picking it up is a no-brainer.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is out now for PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox One.