Friday, August 29, 2014

Review #144: Crash Nitro Kart

 In which Crash tries to turn into a Saturday Morning Cartoon.
 You know how Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex tried to emulate previous Crash games? Well, Nitro Kart tries to emulate Team Racing, and by emulate, I mean become a carbon copy of its predecessor, just not as good.

 The story is pretty much the same as in Team Racing, an Alien being kidnaps Crash, Cortex and the rest and has them race in order to save the earth, simple stuff. This time, the game is told through beautiful cutscenes, they really do look good. They also try to be funny, but I found myself cringing, I guess kids should find it funny, which is surprising since most Crash fans would've been a bit older by now.
 As far as gameplay is concerned, it's almost the same game. First of all, Adventure mode returns, and it behaves just as it did in CTR. You go through 4 Hubs, with 3 stages each and a boss battle, and beating a World's boss unlocks the dull, and sometimes annoying, Crystal collecting race. In order to unlock everything, once again, it will require at least, and I'm being generous, three playthroughs through each track. First you need to earn first place, to continue with the game, then get the C, N and K letters(And also finish first. In a game were one item attack can cost you the whole race. Fun. And no, it can't be done on your first run through the stage, that'd be too convenient.) and then beat the time trials. It feels like padding, and it's the only way to unlock the rest of the racers, no cheats in this one. Oh, and in this one, you need to finish adventure mode with both Crash and Cortex team in order to unlock the last character. If you are into racing games, it's probably gonna last you a while, if you don't like racing games, like me, it's gonna be a chore. Then you also get the obligatory 1 player racing modes, time trials and cups, with a multiplayer mode with up to four players to race against, or do battle in the battle modes.

 As I mentioned before getting sidetrack, gameplay remains relatively unchanged. You race around tracks, and try to get crates which either hold Wumpa fruit, which raise your max speed and once you collect 10 your items become Super Juiced(Stronger), or the items themselves which you use to gain advantage on your opponents. Almost every item from CTR returns, with the flasks getting swapped for electric and ice mines and the energy ball with a Tornado, and they never feel as strong as their Mario Kart counterparts which is, in my opinion, a good thing. The fantastic drifting system returns, in which you must tap the opposing shoulder button as you drift, while timing it with a gauge that appears next to your racer, in order to get up to three boosts, it's more strategic and involved that other mascot racer's drifting mechanics. A new feature is driving on ceilings and sides, Crash Nitro Kart did it before Mario Kart 8!, but it feels mostly aesthetic. Regardless, the game feels quite slower than CTR, which makes it a bit less fun, and the physics feel a bit awkward, sometimes even bugged(Like falling under the track for no reason!).
 If there's one good thing to say about the game, is that it looks really, really good. Racers feel a bit lazy, as the sixteen characters were divided in four teams of four, and every character in a team share the same cart with each other, I think they could've given each character an exclusive cart, but no biggie. Tracks look beautiful, even though they don't really borrow from Crash's previous games, something that CTR did and made it feel much more cohesive in the Crash universe. Music is... well, it's there. It's not bad, but it's nothing special. The voice acting, however, is pretty impressive and compliments the fantastic cutscenes quite nicely.

 Crash Nitro Kart is a game that tries too hard to be like its counterpart, but since it doesn't manage to be as good as the other one was, it feels like a pale imitation. At least the cutscenes look really good.
 6.5 out of 10.

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