Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D Review
Back in the late 90s a dog made its way into the spotlight and has stayed there ever since. Crash Bandicoot quickly became the manikin of PlayStation by making appearances in every possible genre. In 1999 the dog and its sidekicks entered the racing genre as Crash Team Racing (CTR) hit the marketplace, in my book still the best fantasy karter ever made. Vivendi Mobile agrees and revived the Crash Nitro Kart series on the iPhone platform. Can it capture the magic?
In terms of gameplay modes the new racer stays true to its roots. Story mode makes a spectacular return, though stripped down. Cup racing, time trial and a quick race mode are also present to extend the game past the 2-hour mark, because that’s how long story mode takes.
Crash and his friends need to prevent Oxide from taking over Sanity Island by beating him and his evil henchmen in a series of races. Each of the 8 missions requires a different task like: ensuring that Coco wins, or collecting the necessary 10 apples before crossing the finish line. It’s the bare minimum but at least tempers feelings of nostalgia.
Back in the 90s the characters were what made Crash Team Racing so great. Nitrous Oxide portrayed the perfect villain in his hover-vehicle and for many years CTR fans believed that he was an unlockable – even though he wasn’t. I know that these little mysteries kept me playing as a kid, which truth be told is the target audience for games like this. Crash Nitro Kart 3D unfortunately fails to deliver because all the characters are easy to unlock and not that interesting. On offer are the following characters: Bandicoot, Dr cortex, Coco, Ripper Roo, Yaya, Oxide, Polar, Dingodile. All the characters drive the same, so it doesn’t really matter whom you drive. Crash Nitro Kart 3D is skin racing on an entirely new level.
Equally dumbed down is the driving mechanic. The fastest way around the track is driving the turbo pad lines without cutting the grass. Pretty much all the shortcuts are displayed on the mini-map, so that’s another typical karting mechanic lost. Ultimately nothing from the childhood classic actually made the jump to the iPhone, even though it’s easily just as strong as the PSX ever was. To make things worse the game uses the dreaded rubber band system to keep racing close. Put bluntly: the AI drivers adjust to your speed.
On the flipside the accelerometer driving style works well. By default the cars accelerate with braking just a tap away. Tab while steering activates a slide – which isn’t helpful in any way. It’s a risky move to stick with accelerometer controls only, but it pays off.
I’ve played this game on three different iPhones and in my experience the game works smoothly from the iPhone 3GS/iPod Touch 3 and up. The graphics are clearly outdated however. I love the track layout and general art style, but the jagged lines and washed textures are uncalled for in this day and age.
The soundtrack reminds me of its original in 1999. That means that sound effects are present and characters do make sounds during the races, though not spoken. A voice actor or two would’ve helped a lot.
Crash nitro kart 3D isn’t a good game, but there’s a reason for that. It’s nothing compared to the original 1999 classic, and even for a mobile game provides a thin experience. The game lacks proper fantasy karting elements to keep things exciting. Still facts indicate that Crash Nitro Kart 3D launched in 2008, together with the iPhone 3G, a time when many mobile phones were still dominated by snake, Tetris and that farmers’ game. So this is almost a testimony of how far we’ve come in the mobile market and 12 years after the classic (almost to the day) I’m still rooting for a proper sequel. With this review I’d like to take a moment to remember the best childhood karting game of my generation: Crash Team Racing.
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