In spite of the review’s negative title, I had an overall positive experience with Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, despite being a mixed bag. It’s marred with game-breaking glitches; a broken online system; it’s locked online racing, the Grand Prix and its challenges behind PlayStation Plus, Beenox/Activision haven’t been upfront that the Pit Stop may become a micro-transactions shop in the future etc.

Before I address the massive herd of elephants in the room, I’d like to point out the positive points of this obviously flawed remaster. One day, Crash, Coco and Dr. Neo Cortex were racing to their hearts’ content until they skidded to a halt when a hologram materialised in front of them. Meanwhile, a menacing green spaceship entered the Milky Way Galaxy as it hovered ominously over Planet Earth. A villainous alien named Nitrous Oxide issued a challenge to Crash Bandicoot, his friends and his enemies to a racing competition to decide the fate of their planet. After he finished his monologue, he entered the planet’s atmosphere. This caused Crash and everyone else to practice for the upcoming go-kart racing contest.

Adventure mode is split into a handful of hub worlds, each with their own theme. If you win all of the trophies, you’ll be given the opportunity to face off against Nitrous Oxide. However, if you collected all of the Time Relics and if you defeat him for the second time, he’ll leave Planet Earth for good. Aside from the main objective, the CTR tokens are required to gain access to the gem races. Each hub world includes a boss and upon beating one, he will award you with a key. These keys will open any door. Strewn across all the hub worlds is a computer where you can save your progress manually at any time.

Unlike the original version, you’re given the option to customise your character and switch between characters on the fly. Before you start your adventure, you’re able to pick which difficulty level or which version of Adventure mode (Classic or Nitro-Fueled) you get to race with your favourite character. Besides Adventure mode, there are other race and battle modes. My favourite race tracks are Android Alley, Electron Avenue and Twilight Tour. Android Alley is reminiscent of Metropolis/Aleero City from the Ratchet & Clank series and Twilight Tour gives off vibes of Shy Guy Bazzar from Mario Kart 7 and Scuttle Town from the Shantae series.

Known within the Crash Bandicoot community is the legendary “Ultimate Sacred Fire” technique. If mastered correctly, blazes of blue fire explodes from the exhaust pipes of a racer’s kart for an extensive period of time. Sometimes Grand Prix events occur where everyone is given the pleasure to race against each other online. Completing any challenge fills up the Nitro Gauge. If you reach a certain amount of Nitro, prizes are awarded to you in the form of new racers and customisable items. In addition, there are leader boards. If you finish in the top 5% of any of the leader boards, you’ll win a brand-new kart.

I’m relieved and grateful to see the game to contain subtitles right from the start, for which Toys for Bob should seriously take notes. Most noticeably, Spyro Reignited Trilogy subtitles. This is 2019, not the frickin’ 90’s. This isn’t fair to people with impaired hearing and learning disabilities. Subtitles should be regarded as an industry standard.

While I appreciate Beenox for not pandering to anti-consumerism in the form of micro-transactions, they should revaluate their decisions for the Pit Stop. Thankfully, Beenox managed to right some of Toys for Bob’s wrongs, considering there doesn’t seem to be any goddamn motion blur in sight.

Here’s a hot take/unpopular opinion: the crystal challenges were never good, not even in the original version. In fact, they should’ve stayed in the 90’s. They’ve always been tedious, they felt like a chore and I hate being pressured to gather collectables within a short amount of time. Then there are the horror stories of the game literally crashing, causing the save file to become corrupted and delete itself if a player defeats Dr N. Tropy in all of his ghost races and unlocks him as a racer.

On that note, the game abruptly, literally crashed on me after I realised it unexpectedly went offline when I visited the Pit Stop. Once I dropped by, I was horrified to see zero Wumpa Coins at the top right corner of the screen. I tried rebooting the game but to no avail, it refused to put me back online so I had no try but to re-install it. I’m back online now, but I’m still livid.

I created a new file in order to try out the hard difficulty level in Adventure mode. I opened up the menu to change to Tiny Tiger from Coco Bandicoot. When I confirmed my selection, the game refused to change my racer. This caused me to reboot the game.

And don’t get me started on the Pit Stop. It’s Super Bomberman R levels of grinding for Wumpa Coins. If anyone played Super Bomberman R will understand why I made this comparison. Not only is grinding for Wumpa Coins monotonous, they’re also boring to collect and save up offline. To make matters worse, the Pit Stop is locked behind the internet/wi-fi. If you can’t afford the internet, you’re out of luck.

Speaking of being out of luck, online multiplayer is unfortunately locked behind an online subscription paywall. In other words, PlayStation Plus. It’s unfortunate as this is the only way to obtain Wumpa Coins much quicker. You know what else is locked behind PlayStation Plus? The Grand Prix challenges. As a result, it’s impossible to complete them if you don’t have a subcription.

On a related note, the prices are borderline, ludicrously highway robbery. For example, to unlock Ami from the Nitro Squad (formerly known as the Trophy Girls/Podium Girls/”Bandicutes”), you must collect over 5175 Wumpa Coins. Due to how timed the items are in the Pit Stop, it’s unrealistically impossible to collect a large sum of coins within a limited amount of time. I find this to be unfair to people that can’t afford the internet/PlayStation Plus.

To add salt to the wound, once the Grand Prix is over, there may not be chance for the Grand Prix items to appear ever again, seeing as they’re exclusive to it. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. That is, until Beenox or Activision decides to restock the Pit Stop with the aforesaid objects. This is inexcusably unfair to the gamers that don’t have enough money on hand as soon as they become available. Some have accused it for preying on people with compulsive habits.

Last but not least, the hard level difficulty in this remake/remaster is stupidly difficult, whether you’re racing in Adventure mode or racing in any mode. Forget finishing in the top five, let alone in the top three rankings. If you can’t race against hard level difficulty AIs, you sure as heck can’t race against people online. When I completed all of the cup races in hard level difficulty in the original version, I did it just fine. No wonder people are prone to call this remaster, “the Dark Souls of Kart-Racing Games”.

Is it the definitive version of Crash Team Racing? I don’t want to sound like a broken record but judging by how the Pit Stop is mishandled and how the game randomly literally crashed on me after the internet went down: No. Due to all of these game-breaking bugs, you’re better off going back to the original version until Beenox fixes all of the issues.