Crash Nitro Kart
Crash is an interesting beast. Not in a bandicoot sense, but in regard to his new karting gig. For everything Nitro Kart does right, it does something frustratingly wrong--not the least of which is being released alongside the new Mario Kart. CNKs Adventure mode delivers harmless single-player action, with interesting stuff such as boss challenges and team aspects, but it becomes annoying when you're forced to replay tracks with nonsensical requirements. For example, trying to finish in first while picking up arbitrarily placed letters or smashing clock-stopping boxes doesn't make for a good time. The boost system--in which you link boosts by catching air, hitting pads, and powersliding--is another failed attempt at innovation. Having to press two buttons for the powersliding boost is just clunky. And then there's the multiplayer. Two-player cup races are enjoyable, but three-and four-player bouts lack intensity, thanks to bigger-than-necessary maps, ineffective weapons, and slower-than-normal game-play. Nitro Kart doesn't offer the fast-paced, fluid fun I expect from a kart racer.
Poor Crash. The little guy keeps pumping those stumpy marsupial legs, but he's still miles behind Mario--or in this case, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GC). Crash Nitro Kart is a fairly limp effort; aside from a whole bunch of new tracks and better graphics, not much has been done to update the series. The gameplay feels nearly identical to Crash Team Racing's (PS1), even down to the speed-boosting wumpa fruits, so if you loved it before, you'll still love it, and if not...not.
The unflavored yogurt of the kart-racing set, Crash Nitro Kart has its heart in the right place. Sadly, said heart is stillborn. Powered by the charismatic Crash Bandicoot and featuring a solid multiplayer mode, CNKtakes few chances; it's as generic in look as it is in feel. CNK offers standard weapons, predictably themed tracks with lots of jumps but few hairpin curves to challenge drivers, and a toned-down difficulty level to keep frustrating losses to a minimum. Oh, and what's with the lamest unlockable ever: the ability to rewatch cut-scenes?