A successful kart game needs history to pull from to be successful, and Crash Team Racing has that in excess.
This past weekend, we finally got our hands on Activision's remake of Crash Team Racing. 20 years after the original was released on the original PlayStation, the minds behind the Crash N.Sane Trilogy have followed up with Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. Not only is the game a remaster of the CTR we all know and love, but it also includes tracks and characters from the follow-up games of Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing.
We're four days into our time playing Nitro-Fueled, and we are thoroughly enjoying the experience. The remaster is incredibly well-done, and after the success of Crash's N.Sane Trilogy, we weren't expecting anything less. However, as with any kart game based on a lovable video game icon, it is going to be compared to the most successful franchise by far from the genre: Mario Kart.
There have been nine Mario Kart games (sort of), and the franchise kicked into gear all the way back in 1992. Since then, pretty much every Mario Kart game has been a hit. What Nintendo does well with Mario Kart is that it treats each game as a sequel, rather than completely separate titles, which is easily done. Take Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch, for example. Despite being released 25 years after the original, it still features many of the tracks and elements which made that game great.
Considering the trend the gaming industry is currently going through, titles being a mix of new and nostalgia is a selling point that is better than ever. Half the games we are excited about right now are either remasters or remakes. It's the sweet spot Mario Kart has thrived in for years, and it's one the ways in which the recently released Team Sonic Racing failed. Sonic has just as rich a history to pull from as Mario, but Sega neglected to utilize that history effectively.
Granted, Sonic doesn't have the kart success that Mario has, but it isn't starting with a blank slate. Had its tracks and elements been more closely linked to Sonic's past, we might have finally had a competitor to Mario Kart on our hands. Just simple things like a Chemical Plant track and music from the original games. You can't even get a Fast Boots item! Come on Sega, surely that's a no-brainer.
Where Sonic has failed is exactly where Crash Bandicoot can succeed. Nitro-Fueled is the perfect blend of old and new. If you played the original game in 1999, or any Crash game from that era for that matter, we guarantee that you will be hit right in the nostalgia when you first fire up Nitro-Fueled with its characters, sound effects, and even the tiny details subtly placed in the decoration for the tracks.
The biggest advantage Nitro-Fueled has is that it is a remake. Of course it is going to remind players of Crash's past, as it is Crash's past, just with better graphics. That alone is not enough to create a kart franchise that can challenge the genre's king. What the game's developers do next is what will decide that. Nitro-Fueled is certainly off to a good start, currently sitting atop the game charts.
In fact, it is the best first week (other than the N.Sane Trilogy) in Crash history. If those numbers continue, you'd have to think Activision is at least considering turning CTR into a modern day franchise. Why not borrow from Mario Kart and follow the same pattern as Nintendo has with its iconic plumber? Once we're done playing Nitro-Fueled, a brand new CTR title that borrows from Crash's past would be extremely welcomed. Watch this space.
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