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Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart

For: Mobile   Also on: Blackberry

It's no kart crash

Product: Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart | Publisher: Vivendi Games Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Conversion, Racing | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 933KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
 
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart Mobile, thumbnail 1
If you've been playing games for a while, you've probably played plenty of kart racing games, because, let's face it, loads of the arcade racers have been released. Even on mobile, there's already Rayman Kart, Cocoto Kart Racer and Crash Racing, the Bandicoot's previous kart racing outing, to choose from.

Because the thing with kart racing games is it seems to be quite difficult to make a truly appalling one. Perhaps it's because realistic car physics and decent artificial intelligence - the staples of any regular driving game - are excusable if absent because they can easily be replaced by novelty courses, rockets to fire up people's exhausts and other dirty tactics. All of these should be fun enough to make any game playable, so while we've played plenty of average or uninspiring kart racing games, none have been unplayable.

And you'll be pleased to hear Nitro Kart surpasses even this.

It's not because it's particularly innovative though. No doubt you'll recognise the format of collecting item boxes, dodging various course hazards and unleashing everything from rockets to turbo boosts in your fight to be first over the finishing line.

It's more because Nitro Kart is a massive game with plenty to unlock, which gives you enough of an incentive to want to keep playing. Not only are there four cups to play through - each of which has four tracks - there's also a Challenge mode where you complete specific tasks, many of them unrelated to racing, in order to collect Wumpas to buy new karts.

These challenges provide loads of variety, and while we struggled with some due to their demanding criteria, they're a welcome diversion from a straightforward bout of karting.

Of course, the racing and game controls work well too, or we wouldn't be singing the praises of Nitro Kart. In places perhaps it would be fairer to say they work adequately - the pace of game can lurch a bit at times - and in levels with taller environments (like the mountains in the desert courses), the pop-up of scenery makes seeing the course ahead tricky. But on the whole the game is simple and fun to play. Your kart accelerates automatically leaving you free to steer left and right, brake or jump (by pushing forwards) in order to clear pools of water, rogue crabs and other hazards.

There's also plenty of diversity in the items you can pick up. These include everything from shields to homing rockets and spikes that pop out of the sides of your kart to power-ups that temporarily transform your kart into a speedy plane. Added to these are ultimate items you unlock by collecting the five letters in the word CRASH, which are dotted about the track. This transforms your kart into a super-speedy, opponent-crushing monster truck.

Undeniably there are a few problems too, mostly relating to little bugs. You can often drive straight through solid obstacles such as rocks and the 'hole' item, which plants a hole in the ground for someone to fall down, often ill-advisedly lands directly in front of you when you use it, meaning you're generally the one who takes the fall. Very helpful. Another minor point is the various unlockable karts don't feel that different in terms of performance and handling either, despite their varying stats.

But none of this prevents Nitro Kart being perfectly fun to play. Races shift along at an impressive speed, having six jostling racers on each track makes for close finishes and there are some decent tracks - we like the ones with a spooky spider's web theme.

So you won't get anything here you haven't seen before, but you'll be hooked enough to spend a good few days trying to complete all the challenges. If not a perfect kart racer then, Nitro Kart contains enough variation to provide plenty of Crash-related fun.
 
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 21 April 2008
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart doesn't redefine the genre, but it's an impressively large game that packs in races, challenges and unlockables
 
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