Twenty years ago, Naughty Dog’s Crash Team Racing made a name for itself as “the other good kart racer.” And to this day its dynamic courses, flavorful lore, challenging-yet-clear power-sliding mechanic, and lack of catch-up items make it a game that deserves better than living in Mario Kart’s shadow. Despite a few seriously frustrating single-player races, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a thrilling ride that keeps the excellent original game intact while adding some quality of life updates, such as an improved HUD, and obligatory modern trappings such as unlockable cosmetics.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled instantly transports me back to 1999 and the early 2000s with its familiar tracks, cartoonishly bright colors, and ridiculous plot of stopping Nitros Oxide from turning Earth into a parking lot. But this remaster is far from stuck in the past: visually, it looks stunning with vivid details around every corner and animations that give each character plenty of personality. The ability to swap between characters during Adventure mode and the cosmetic options are welcome additions, and learning to master each of these 31 tracks proved to be a real challenge because of their frequent tight turns, competent (though sometimes cheap) competition from the AI.