Crash Nitro Kart (PlayStation 2) review
"After years of anticipation, a sequel to the original Crash Team Racing for the PlayStation finally appeared and hit all of the next generation consoles, allowing players to control either their favorite orange marsupial Crash, or the dimwitted Dr. Neo Cortex, to stop yet another threat to destroy the world, this one being set by the egotistical Emperor Velo. Gamers are not to be grossly disappointed by the quality of Crash Nitro Kart, as it features quality driving action, fairly good variety i..."
After years of anticipation, a sequel to the original Crash Team Racing for the PlayStation finally appeared and hit all of the next generation consoles, allowing players to control either their favorite orange marsupial Crash, or the dimwitted Dr. Neo Cortex, to stop yet another threat to destroy the world, this one being set by the egotistical Emperor Velo. Gamers are not to be grossly disappointed by the quality of Crash Nitro Kart, as it features quality driving action, fairly good variety in terms of obstacles and courses, and a very colorful world to drive through. On the other hand though, Crash Nitro Kart suffers from a huge lack of challenge which even puts it to the rank of easiest Crash Bandicoot game in existence, and the overall length, since CNK takes only a couple hours to complete. Neither brings it to the point of just an average kart racing game, but both keep it from the ultimate potential that it had.
Despite Crash living with a new ally named Crunch for a while and getting a good deal of sleep and exercise, he pretty much has the same controls that were used in the original Crash Team Racing. X is used to accelerate and drive forward; O fires a collected weapon on the race track; Square allows Crash to make really hard turns; and R1 and L1 allow him to jump, and after doing so, Crash can do a power boost by pressing the other one while turning. There was, however, a new feature added to Crash Nitro Kart, in which there are eight players racing on a track and four teams. Each team has four members in all, but only two race on the track at a time. If Crash is near his friends Coco and Crunch, his ''team meter'' rises. When it reaches the maximum, he can fire off an unlimited chain of random weapons until it reaches the bottom again. Besides a couple new additions, the controls should all be extremely familiar.
Age old Crash Bandicoot characters, as well as even more new ones are met in this title. First of all, you've got the old characters like Crash, Coco, Cortex, N. Gin, and Tiny. And you've also got some very new characters. Sure, some of them are pretty cool, such as Emperor Velo and the master of hypnotism, N. Trance, but most of the new ones are not that interesting. For example, you've got two lizards named Zam and Zem. When you unlock them, you're unlikely to use either of them more than once. Not many of the bosses are very interesting either, so this was a little disappointing.
The weapons that you can use inside a race should also bring back memories of those used in not only Crash Team Racing, but all the other Crash Bandicoot games as well. He can use bowling bombs that roll either backwards or forwards; a TNT or NITRO crate which explodes when someone touches it, invincibility shields protecting him from damage and make any kart that he touches spin out; a regular speed boost that causes him to drive faster; a missile which locks on to the nearest opponent; clocks that spin all of the karts on the track; mascot masks that guard the kart from damage and attack; ice mines and electric balls that cause anyone foolish enough to drive into them slow down; and a tornado which aims for the character in first place, and has a 99% chance of hitting them.
Crash Nitro Kart has two challenges making a return from the original Crash Team Racing, those being the CNK Challenge and the Relic Race. In the CNK Challenge, the character races across the track as usual, with three letters being placed on it. To win this challenge and receive a CNK token, the character has to come in the grand 1st place and collect the three letters across the track, although usually these letters are easy to find. If you get enough CNK tokens of one color, you can race across three tracks in a Gem Cup, and then unlock a new character and win a Gem. In Relic Races, the character races across the track, with time boxes scattered through it. The quicker that the racer gets to the finish line, the better relic they receive, although they can cut seconds off the time by running into the time boxes.
However, the problem with Crash Nitro Kart's length is that it only has 12 tracks. Since all of them are easy, it allows the player to finish the whole game within a matter of a couple hours. Every time three tracks are complete, a character challenges you to a race. These are the bosses. Unfortunately, all of them are quite easy. Most of them manage to drop three times as many weapons behind you as you can, but they are all quite slow, which allows you to get ahead and keep a lead until you get to the finish line. Heck, they don't even take the track shortcuts. The final race is extremely difficult, but the main bosses were fairly disappointing.
Despite having the typical ''cute'' look to it, Crash Nitro Kart is extremely colorful, and the courses themselves are very well done, featuring awesome design and beautiful 3D landscapes, despite how weird a few of them are. The bright sunrise on Volcano Island to the stormy skies of Thunder Struck instantly win you over. The characters also have tons of detail to them, such as when Crash sleeps at the beginning of the game, you can see all the hair on his body, moving a little when he gets up to put on his sunglasses. It's a very nice game to look at.
Although the audio of Crash Nitro Kart is certainly nothing particularly memorable, it is still quite solid. Similar to the graphics, the sound is also rather ''cutesy''. For example, you have Coco taunting the elusive 'nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah' line when she drives past other racers, and the cheering you hear from Crash as he launches a missile or gets ahead of an enemy. The music itself definitely isn't too impressive, as it's just the typical Crash Bandicoot music that you've heard from all the other games in the series. Still, it fits in with the tracks very nicely.
Crash Nitro Kart is a pretty good racing title to own, despite the small size. It controls great, takes a while to get boring, and the game is very colorful and sounds good in its own right. However, it cannot really stand up to the original Crash Team Racing, since even it was more challenging and it had been much longer, with more familiar characters to the series. Still, any PS2 owner in search of an average-to-good racing game can pick up this game and enjoy it. It is weak compared to the standards set by the original Crash Bandicoot games, but the game can be recommended to any who are willing to pay a rather hefty price for a short game.
Community review by gbness (April 24, 2004)
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