Despite its name, it's hard to call IP4U's Crash Nitro Kart 2 a sequel, if only because mobile gaming has never really been Crash's focus. But despite its simplistic nature and general dissociation with the original Crash Nitro Kart, this is one of the few mobile games in the series that weren't hastily produced as a tie-in. Let's see how well it holds up.
Everything looks pretty nice for an old Java ME game, including occasional 3D structures around the tracks and character sprites that look decent, despite a general lack of animation. The audio is a bit more mixed, since the music, though not exactly bad, is mostly comprised of short tunes, and there are no sound effects whatsoever.
The controls are simple and responsive. During races, your kart automatically accelerates, so you mostly have to worry about turning, jumping and firing. Races usually consist of 3 laps against several opponents, and the power-ups are as zany as usual. The hole power-up is a bit annoying though: using it opens up a hole on the ground, but that happens in front of you, and not behind you. This makes it easy for you to fall into your own holes and forces you to steer away every time. Nice going there.
You can also turn your kart into a monster truck by collecting all the letters around the track that form the word "CRASH". The monster truck runs a lot faster, and it flattens any opponents it touches. Collecting letters is a bit hard at first, but it does get easier as you get used to it. Your kart also turns into a plane on its own during certain segments, but it doesn't affect the gameplay in any way.
The amount of things to unlock in this game is pretty good. There are 16 tracks, 8 characters, and 8 karts in total, most of which have to be unlocked by doing specific tasks. The game also offers various racing modes to choose from. The main story mode is called Challenges, and your progress is achieved by completing its various missions. Some are pretty easy stuff, but others are a bit frustrating.
In Arcade mode, all you have to do is finish the race normally. There are 10 Wumpa fruits scattered throughout each track, and while it's not mandatory to pick them up, doing so unlocks a new kart after you reach specific a total. Note that the number of fruits you pick up only counts towards your total if you finish the race in 3rd place or higher.
Sudden Death is a bit annoying, because you have to compete in all 16 tracks in succession, and you can't finish any race below than 2nd place. When every other character has the same weapons as you do, this becomes a very unfair task at times, and even the slightest mistake can throw all of your progress away. To make matters worse, each race is over as soon as a character finishes 3 laps, so if you happen to be below 2nd place when that happens, you're as good as gone. You're better off avoiding this mode altogether.
Finally, Monster Truck mode makes you race through a random track on a monster truck for 2 minutes while you try to squash as many opponents as you can. It's a more relaxing mode for when you just feel like turning people into pancakes. Ahhh.
In the end, Crash Nitro Kart 2 may not be an amazing title, but when it comes to mobile racing spin-offs, this was the best the franchise had to offer back then.