Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 - Overview


Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 (not to be confused with Crash Nitro Kart 2) is the sequel to the just as idiotically-titled Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D. Developed by Polarbit exclusively for iOS devices, it's yet another entry in a fairly long list of racing spin-offs, and it retains the same core gameplay seen in the previous game. Is it as disappointing as its predecessor, or is there something worthwhile up its sleeve?

The game's presentation is a vast improvement over CBNK3D.

The presentation in this game is endlessly better than the ugly mess that was CBNK3D. The characters actually look like themselves this time, and there's a lot more detail around the tracks. The frame rate is also much smoother and there is virtually no object popping to speak of, something that plagued the game's predecessor.

Some environments are reminiscent of the more classic games in the series: you've got beaches, temple ruins, jungles, and more. This time there are a few unusual sets to be found too, including a haunted hovel, a Greek track, and bayou, among others, making this one of the most varied Crash Bandicoot games in terms of environments.

The music has been considerably upgraded as well, no longer being limited to basic and generic synthesizers. The new soundtrack was created by Gabriel Mann and Rebecca Kneubuhl, who previously co-performed the music in Crash Twinsanity with the rest of Spiralmouth (this soundtrack, however, is entirely instrumental asides from Gabe's voice being featured in the main theme, which itself is a remix of the Twinsanity theme). You won't be humming to many of these tracks, but for what it's worth, it's the only Crash game where you can listen to a wild west theme, among other unusual pieces.

There are 10 different playable characters, many of which could be found in the previous game. It also marks the return of some long-forgotten faces like Pura. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the characters is that CBNK 2 completely ignores the redesigns introduced in Crash of the Titans and used up to this point. Some characters have their debut designs, while others look more like their Twinsanity counterparts. Interestingly, Ripper Roo looks like his demented persona wearing the top hat and bowtie of his more collected self, and Crunch's design is more like a mix of several different past designs.

The race tracks encompass several unusual places for a Crash Bandicoot game.

CBNK 2 doesn't try to fix what isn't broken, so the controls remain largely unchanged from the previous game. As always, you can powerslide to maneuver around tight curves and cut corners, pick up power-ups from crates, and juice those up by collecting 10 Wumpa fruits. Once again, you'll lose some of your fruits if you get hit by a weapon or collide with a wall.

Each character has their own kart and stats that affect gameplay (speed, acceleration, and grip). A neat innovaton is that you can unlock any character's kart for everyone else, which has its own influence on their default stats. Visually speaking, the karts continue to be recycled from Crash Tag Team Racing, but they were re-made to look like actual karts instead of cars.

All of the race tracks in the previous game were lifeless, shameless copies of those from Crash Tag Team Racing. The budget seems to have been higher this time around, because all the tracks are original and there's considerably more stuff going on in them, including more interesting shortcuts. Expect a few themed hazards along with the usual turbo pads and ledges to jump from. The game features a fairly unimpressive total of 12 tracks, which can be played individually or in cups of 3, which is still as awkward as it was in Crash Nitro Kart.

The game's online multiplayer mode is a very welcome addition.

A huge advantage CBNK 2 has over its predecessor is the sheer quantity of stuff there is to do. The game is jam-packed with different play modes that will make you come back for more. Most notably, multiplayer was sorely missed in the previous game, but it was introduced in full force here. You can play local games against other people via Bluetooth or get into online sessions via Wi-Fi. To do this, you may choose to host your own room for other people to join or be a guest in theirs. Up to 4 players can race simultaneously in this mode and lag is virtually nonexistent (or at least it was at the time of its release).

Besides some classic modes like Time Attack, and the aforementioned Cup mode, we also have the return of Arcade mode, but in name only. This time it's an actual arcade mode where you'll race through all 12 tracks with a countdown on each one. Going through a goal nets you a time bonus that is essential to continue without losing. Let the countdown reach zero and you're history. A fun addition and a must-play for coin-op lovers.

There are many new game modes that will test your skill and make you come back for more.

One of the new modes is Mission, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Missions range from making stunts, collecting crystals around the tracks and so on. Beating a mission unlocks the next one, so progression is more linear than it should be. This mode allows you to unlock new karts and characters.

Eliminator has you competing against your opponents for survival. The last racer in every lap is kicked out of the race, so be sure to stay in the lead. Collector puts a different spin on it, since you need to collect as many crystals as you can. Crystals can be collected by driving into them or shooting them with a power-up.

Finally, Skill mode rewards you with points for driving with style and accuracy. You get points for your hang times, powerslides and overall speed. As in Time Attack mode, your records are saved after each race. This mode is oriented for expert players who drive with technique and finess.

It's worth noting that the game hasn't been updated for years, so playing it on an iPhone 6 or later will result in many inconvenient bugs, not the least of which are random application crashes (the bad kind, not the bandicoot) and the inability to save your progress. Trying to play this game correctly on a modern platform is next to impossible, which is unfortunate given that it's a surprisingly solid title, yet one doomed by its own release format.

Modern compatibility issues aside, CBNK 2 is a fine game. It may not have the same level of depth or content that the old Crash Team Racing had on the PlayStation, but as a mobile game, it's hard to judge it harshly. It looks and sounds great, and there's plenty of different modes and unlockables to keep you busy, along with an impeccable multiplayer mode.

The good

  • The visuals were great for the devices it came out for
  • Lots of fun game modes, some of them brand new
  • Great local and online multiplayer

The bad

  • There's not a whole lot of race tracks
  • Progression in Mission mode is as linear as it gets
  • The game hasn't been updated to run on newer iPhone models


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