Review by mikecullerne
"It's not Mario Kart but it's fun all the same."
Ahhh yes Crash Bandicoot. Sony's unexpected mascot that went head to head with Mario back in the days when chatter-rings were cool and a Playstation cost far more than any mere mortal could afford. Since the Bandicoot busted onto the scene all those years ago a lot has changed but his furry fellow still seems to sell whatever game he features on. Whether it be Crash Team Racing or Crash: Warped the formula for success, whether it be a platform or racing game, has been simple: offer something that is easy to pick up and fun enough to keep punters addicted for weeks on end.
Crash Nitro Kart is the long-awaited sequel to Crash Team Racing which was originally released on the original Playstation. Crash Team Racing took pretty much all it's gameplay ideas from Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing – both on Nintendo 64. Whilst the game was initially criticised for taking so much from these two titles it was soon realised that this was no hap-hazard affair and Crash Team Racing bought the best elements of both games, mixed them all about and came out with one of the greatest racing titles on the Playstation. It had style, it had a cast of zany characters and is also some brilliant track design that made it playable for people across all age groups.
This playability meant that a follow-up was definitely on the cards but I'm sure most people didn't expect it to take fours years for developers Naughty Dog to finally get it into stores. But as all good gamers know patience brings a thousand rewards and Crash Nitro Kart is certainly worth the wait. After Crash is kidnapped by the evil Emperor Velo he is forced to race to save not only his own skin but the lives of everyone of Earth! Our hero will come up against plenty of foes, some new, some old and Crash fans will recognise various villans from previous encounters. All this reacing leads to a showdown with Velo himself. Yes the plot is weak but Crash games have never really had much to speak of in terms of plot progression (read: the games don't make much sense at all).
Thankfully the action on the road is where the heart of this game is and the poor story is left in the dust of some pretty intense racing action with seventeen tracks set around the Emperor's galactic coliseum. While the circuits are all set within this one warped place there is plenty of variety and players will have to race through four unique worlds featuring lush jungles, erupting volcanoes and futuristic cities and space stations. Crash Nitro Kart has pretty much every character ever introduced in a Crash Bandicoot title and each has their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to things like maximum speed and acceleration.
In the multiplayer realm the action steps up to another level – and as Microsoft say - 'it's good to play together'. Damn straight it is. Crash Nitro Kart is on it's way to all three of the next-gen systems (GameCube, Xbox and Playstation 2) and each of these will have there own multiplayer setup. With Playstation 2 gamers can enjoy eight player racing through the i-link network setup whilst on GameCube players will be limited to four player split screen action. A Gameboy Advance version is also slated for release and this will make use of four player multiplayer through the link cable system.
Back in the days Crash was a Sony only affair but now it seems that gamers across all consoles will be able to enjoy the hairy hero and the games release date of early Decemeber is just in time for Christmas – how convenient. If you really despise Crash this game is certainly not going to change your mind – he's still the same old Bandicoot. Crash Nitro Kart is certainly aimed at the younger gamer but it will be enjoyable for people of all ages if they can put the immature character design to one side and just sit back and enjoy the racing action.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/03
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