Crash Nitro Kart Review

Developer: Vicarious Visions Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Release Date: July 28, 2004 Available On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

First, I need to disclose to the readers that I would have had my review of this game up earlier had Nokia been more steadfast in sending me my review copy. I have also delayed the review, awaiting a second copy for multi-player gameplay, but I haven’t received it, so going on with the review without playing the multi-player parts of the game will have to do. That aside, Crash Nitro Kart is the most refreshing handheld racer, ever.

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Crash Nitro Kart, for those that don’t know, appeared on next-generation consoles last fall, as a sequel to the PlayStation’s autumnal 1999 Crash Team Racing. Essentially, Crash Nitro Kart for the N-Gage is a complete port of the PS2 version of the game, with slight alterations in graphics. Nonetheless, one of the strongest suits for the game is the fact that level design is extraordinarily resembles that of the PS2 version, something I couldn’t imagine the developer accomplishing on a handheld system.

With all of that said though, the N-Gage’s screen plays a pivotal role in its playability factor. With the clearly vertical screen, it’s hard to see the play-field to the right and left of you, when the screen has an advantage to up-down gameplay. You’ll find that following the corners will oftentimes be the only way to determine when you should turn. Being in the middle could run you off the course, since you won’t see an oncoming sharp turn, which you might need to slow down for. While this isn’t a lethal blow to Crash Nitro Kart, it’s a serious fault that might turn off many gamers. However, if you easily adjust to games like I do, you won’t have a problem after a couple hours of gameplay.

Crash Nitro Kart will have you partake in a series of races, where you’ll select from three different characters, each of which has different skills. You must place first in each race to unlock a new race. You’ll need to play the races in order before you can play the next race. Then once all races in a world are complete, you are given the chance to play the boss of that world. The boss will use power-ups against you, but you too can utilize these power-ups to your advantage, so there does seem to be a sense of balance.

I’ve done my homework, reading some of my counterparts’ complaints about Crash Nitro Kart, and I must say, I disagree that the AI is ‘artificially intelligent’. Nokia struck a better AI balance in Crash Nitro Kart than the console version had. I remember playing some of those levels ten times over before beating them, but the maximum attempts I had on even the hardest levels was maybe five to seven times, again, on the most difficult of courses.

While I’d have loved to play multi-player with friends, and would have easily bumped the score had I been allowed to, the game is solid nonetheless. The increasingly stagnant N-Gage lineup has been revived in recent months with Tiger Woods, Ashen, Ghost Recon, and now, Crash Nitro Kart. If Nokia can keep releasing games like this, they just might have a chance to survive the splash that the Nintendo DS will make in November.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 8
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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