REVIEW: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled — Nintendo Switch

I’m a 90s kid. I grew up on PS1, N64, Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye 007, Crash Bandicoot and so many other industry-defining classics. When it came to karting games, there were really only two choices: Mario Kart 64, or Crash Team Racing. I played them both. I love them both. With Nintendo having released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, I was hoping it was only a matter of time before we saw a remake of my beloved Crash Team Racing. My wait is over. This is our review of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled on the Nintendo Switch.

Developed by Beenox, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled (CTR) is a full on remake. As soon as I fired it up and loaded into Crash Cove, all the nostalgia flooded back. Each track is painstakingly recreated to an idealized version of what they were perhaps always meant to be. The lighting, colors, music, and chaos are all maintained and enhanced in this remake.

However, this visual makeover is not without its cost. CTR runs at 30fps on Nintendo Switch. While it’s mostly stable in both single player, splitscreen, and online play, I did notice a few drops below the 33.33 ms refresh. With karting games in particular, I prefer framerate over visuals, especially with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s pristine performance, so it’s disappointing to see CTR lacking here. 

While I don’t have a final pixel count, CTR looks to be sub-1080p in docked mode, and sub-720p in handheld mode. On my 4K TV, this pixel deficit really stands out. This has the unfortunate effect of diminishing the otherwise excellent artwork on display. In addition to resolution, other visual features such as shadows take a hit, with shadows appearing quite low resolution. 

Fortunately, CTR does appear to have both camera and per object blur on the Nintendo Switch. When implemented correctly, both of these motion blurs combine to create additional fluidity which aids in low framerate games such as the 30fps presentation here.

Despite the undesirable framerate, CTR handles well in both docked mode when playing with the Pro Controller, and also in handheld mode. Beenox has done well to minimize latency with inputs feeling as snappy as possible with the 33.33 ms refresh. 

There are tons of game modes on hand, with the traditional Adventure Mode, Local Arcade, and Online. Adventure Mode is challenging enough on medium difficulty, with easy feeling…well..too easy. Hard mode feels masochistic.

Arcade provides many modes within, such as Time Trials, Relic Races, and CTR Challenges. Battle mode itself has five modes in itself including CTF, Crystal Grab, and Last Kart Driving. Suffice it to say, CTR is not short on content. There is so much to do here, and almost all of it is so incredibly fun.

Customization and rewards are also aplenty…almost. First things first, there are no microtransactions. It’s a sad state of affairs that this itself is newsworthy in the games industry today. We shouldn’t be celebrating receiving content in exchange for our hard-earned money, but that’s the gAAAmes industry today.

You are rewarded for nearly everything you do in CTR. In fact, the reward unlocks are so numerous that they can seem overwhelming to track.  Here is a handy article listing how each unlockable is earned. In short, you earn coins, characters, character skins, kart bodies, stickers, paint, tires, and more by completing various activities.

It’s here where I have a bone to pick with CTR. Coins are earned in both Adventure Mode and Online play. However, if you are offline, say on a long road trip, and decide to play Adventure Mode, you cannot earn any coins.

When coupled with the fact that you earn far more coins online than in single-player, I find this needlessly punitive. CTR and Beenox clearly want you to play online. But this restriction needlessly punishes those who either don’t want to play with an online connection, or simply can’t due to circumstances beyond their control like road trips or plane travel. This is incredibly unfortunate.

As for the other rewards, you can earn those when not connected to the internet. In fact, some of these rewards can be bought in the Pit Stop, the in-game shop, the layout of which should be familiar to most people at this point. Again, this is not a microtransaction shop. You can only use coins earned in-game to purchase these items. Coins cannot be bought with real money.

I’m so happy to see splitscreen returning in CTR Nitro-Fueled. I have fond memories of spending hours playing splitscreen with my brother when we were kids, and it’s great to see this feature returning. I’m happy to say that performance holds up with two players on-screen. I was unable to test for three and four players and cannot report on performance there.

Online play works well enough as well. I personally did not run into issues with matchmaking, though I had heard it was troublesome when the game launched. One gripe I have about online play is Nintendo’s online infrastructure when it comes to trying to play with friends. This is needlessly complicated and legitimately impeded the experience when I was attempting to party up with a friend.

Finally, loading was a big issue. It takes far too long to load anything, and considering there’s a loading screen pretty much anytime you move between activities, a bulk of your time will be spent just sitting and waiting for the load screen to pass. I don’t know if this can be addressed with a patch, but I suspect this is just a hardware limitation of Nintendo’s console. It is nevertheless frustrating.

Overall, I thoroughly love Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. There is simply a wealth of content on hand for your money, and the game almost constantly rewards you. It handles just about as well as a game can at 30fps, and the customization options are awesome. Crucially, the racing maintains that manic, edge-of-your-seat pandemonium throughout and never relents. In my opinion, CTR has always been the more technical karting game when compared to Mario Kart, and this remake doesn’t disappoint in that respect.

Plays like: Your idealized version of Crash Team Racing.

Disclosure: Review code was provided by publisher for purposes of this review.

I can’t shake the feeling that if Nintendo’s online infrastructure was more robust, the loading minimized, and the coins were able to be earned when offline, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled would be an instant masterpiece and torch-bearer for remakes of beloved games. Sadly, it falls just short of such a title.
  • Great visual overhaul capturing the essence of CTR
  • Tons of customization
  • So much content for your money
  • Coins cannot be earned when offline
  • Not 60fps like competitors Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Team Sonic Racing
Written by
A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.

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