‘90s kids have been hit hard in the nostalgia glands this past couple of years. Many platforming mascots left behind in that era have enjoyed a resurgence of late. Sonic Mania, Crash N’Sane Trilogy and more recently Spyro: Reignited Trilogy to name a few.
On top of that, we’ve been privy to a SNES mini and an upcoming PS1 classic as a compendium of other greats. There was one series that seemed an unfortunate omission though, particularly with the success of the Crash N’Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing.
That is until recently when Sony announced a re-release is indeed on its way in the new year. Perhaps the best of the many Mario Kart clones, CTR was one of the highlights of many ‘90s kids gaming collections.
As Crash and friends gear up we take a look back at the original, what to expect of the upcoming title and some of the pitfalls we hope Beenox will avoid.
Crash Team Racing
Following the success of Crash Bandicoot, PlayStation tried to establish their own franchise to rival Mario. They released Crash Team Racing to rival Mario Kart and Crash Bash in attempt to rival Mario Party.
The latter was not so successful but Crash Team Racing proved to be a hit adding an appealing skin to a popular genre. There are 15 total playable characters in the game, seven of which need to be unlocked. Crash Bandicoot bosses Riper Roo, Papu Papu, Pinstripe Potoroo and Komodo Joe are unlockable by completing the adventure mode.
With Fake Crash, Dr N. Tropy and Penta Penguin appearing as additional unlockables. Each character belongs to a class that either favours speed, handling or all-around. The more speed, the less control was the equation to balance gameplay with all-around karts being somewhere in the middle.
Featuring 20 tracks as well as iconic weapons from the series like TNT and Nitro boxes. Crash Team Racing also borrowed the additional modes from Mario Kart including a time trial and battle mode. The game did set itself aside by adding a narrative to the adventure mode though.
Extraterrestrial Nitros Oxide invades Earth near the beginning of the game. Declaring himself the best racer in the universe he challenges Crash and Cortex to a series of races to determine the fate of the Earth. Nitros Oxide has the best kart in the game and serves as the final boss at the end of the adventure mode.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is already available for pre-order and will be in stores on 21st June 2019. Beenox will remaster the original tracks in HD much like the Crash N’Sane Trilogy. Changes won’t be solely cosmetic with CTR though it also promises to add a number of new features.
The most obvious among these is the addition on online multiplayer. Something that was unheard of when CTR was originally released in 1999. A common feature in most games in the current market though. Beenox will be taking another note out of the more recent Mario Kart books too with customisable karts.
Rather than a fixed set of specifications balanced towards speed or handling. Players will be able to mix and match elements allowing them to play their preferred way with any of the playable characters. Another significant character is being added as well in series antagonist Nitros Oxide.
The final boss was the best character on Crash Team Racing but was not playable in the original game. He was playable in subsequent games in the series and will be available this time. The team also promises to add some new tracks with the potential for brand new levels down the line. Vicarious Visions added new levels to the N’Sane Trilogy post-release and a similar schedule could be employed with CTR.
Crash and Burn?
The N’Sane Trilogy was a big success commercially but was plagued by some issues. Namely with returning fans realising how frustrating and finicky their beloved childhood games were. Technology has advanced a long way since the turn of the millennium. Which showed up some of the flaws in the original Crash Bandicoot game, namely the poor platforming mechanics.
The games enjoyed a great graphical overhaul but probably should have seen some technical improvements too. And PlayStation appears to have repeated a similar mistake with the PlayStation Classic. Early reviews are not positive for the device due to the dated and frustrating gameplay.
They surely won’t want to fall into a similar pitfall with Crash Team Racing if indeed the handling is dated. The game needs to be tweaked from the ground up if they want to compete with the slick performance of Mario Kart 8. If PlayStation is planning a future for their former mascot, fans need to see more from these games.
Speaking of seeing more there’s also a question of if there’ll be enough content to compare to modern releases. Unlike the N’Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled only features one previous game. Bundling it with sequels Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing would have made it worth the list price.
As it stands though Beenox is asking a lot for a 19-year-old game, in fact, it’s over a third of the cost of the PlayStation Classic. Given the fact that console could have easily housed the game as well, we’ll be hoping to see even more from the re-release. It may have been a better idea to produce a direct sequel in a modern engine.
Time will tell if this much-requested nostalgia trip will pay off for fans.