Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D - Overview

CBNK3D (now there's a mouthful) is the first mobile Crash Bandicoot game to prominently feature polygonal graphics. Developed by Polarbit, it was first released for the N-Gage 2.0 portal, and later iOS devices and the Zeebo. It's a lot closer to the console games than any previous mobile title. The real question is: is it close enough?

The basic graphics and wonky character designs harshly hinder the game's presentation.

Though the game proudly boasts about 3D graphics in the title, this was only noteworthy when it was first released, as fully 3D games on mobile phones were relatively new at the time (plus the title was more of a way to distinguish it from Crash Nitro Kart 2, another racing spin-off that came out at the same time for older phones). Crash has been a 3D series from the beginning, and this game's visuals never come close to anything you've seen before. Not only that, but all the characters look deformed and lack certain important details, and the draw distance is very limited (which translates into objects popping out of nowhere). The audio is just as mediocre, being limited to synthesized compositions that won't make an impression on you besides getting on your nerves after a while.

The gameplay is very similar to Crash Team Racing. You can still jump and combine it with powersliding, which is useful for getting around tight curves. The power-up crates are back, and you can pick up 10 Wumpa fruits for a speed boost. Being hit or crashing into a wall will rob you of some of your fruits. There are also letters forming the word "CRASH" scattered around each track. Collecting the full word unlocks a new character.

All of the race tracks are carbon copies from Crash Tag Team Racing.

The tracks are all shamelessly copied from Crash Tag Team Racing for some reason, with minor alterations to suit the different gameplay and some aesthetic changes. The game is, however, missing all the Tyrannosaurus Wrecks tracks. Game modes are also kind of limited, and there is no multiplayer whatsoever. It's understandable for a first-gen iPhone game, but not so much for the Zeebo port that came out a year later (if this is the first time you've heard of the Zeebo, it was a niche home console released in Brazil and Mexico).

You can choose Quick Race to play as Crash on a randomly selected track, Cup for a series of 4 races (you can unlock tracks here if you beat a cup in 3rd place or higher), Story for a series of eight missions, and Time Trial for the usual solo races against the clock.

The lack of multiplayer and any significant game modes makes this a very basic and limited experience.

The game doesn't feature a lot of playable characters, but each has their own 3D model, even if badly done as previously mentioned. You can choose between Crash, Coco, Cortex, Ripper Roo, Oxide, and newcomer Yaya Panda. The first 3 appear as they did in Crash of the Titans, while Ripper Roo and Oxide have some all-new (and frankly weird) makeovers. Most characters have to be unlocked, and each one comes with a car of their own (like the race tracks, the cars are also directly copied from Crash Tag Team Racing). An update in June 2010 added Polar and Dingodile to the playable roster, who retain their classic designs.

As a whole, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D works, but nothing really stands out about it. Despite having been the most downloaded iPhone application at one point, it looks ugly, the lack of multiplayer is a letdown, and if you've played Crash Tag Team Racing before, you'll find no original tracks here. What few merits CBNK3D once had to offer were surpassed in its sequel, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2.

The good

  • It's the first mobile Crash game with similar gameplay to the console titles

The bad

  • The graphics are bad and the characters look weird
  • There are no multiplayer features
  • The game features no original tracks
  • The music is very basic and sometimes nerve-grating

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