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Nitro Squad: Quick Thoughts

Today marks the long-awaited debut of CTR: Nitro-Fueled's first Grand Prix, bringing with it a plethora of challenges and rewards. And indeed, rewards are what everyone's talking about right now, thanks in no small part to the return of a certain bunch of bandicoots who are ready for action. Here comes the Nitro Squad!

You might remember an article I wrote a few years back titled The Removal of Tawna. Asides from some awkward phrasing here and there, I think most of the views I expressed back then still hold up, with one major exception: I do think Tawna is still relevant. When I said she no longer had a place in the series, I wasn't accounting for potential changes to her character. Thankfully, Tawna's been through a major overhaul since the franchise's revival (arguably the most significant and positive evolution at that). Gone are the days where she was a mere prize for beating the first game; Tawna is now a proper character with her own distinct personality. Moreover, she's not the only one to have received this kind of upgrade.

Thanks to Nitro-Fueled, the female bandicoots from the original CTR's winner's circle now do more than smile and wave. They've been reformed as the Nitro Squad (which sounds much better than the fan-coined "trophy girls" nickname), and Beenox not only made them playable, but they also bet it all on complete reinterpretations of these characters. Granted, the CTR girls were pretty much blank slates besides a few sentences in the epilogue (which have been appropriately translated into their personalities), but it's still refreshing to see some of these characters being injected with personality, especially since we're still not past remake territory. If anyone from the Naughty Dog cast had to be reinvented, I'm glad it was them.

These are some great improvements, too. Turning these bandicoots into action types is something I'm sure was at least partially inspired by Tawna's portrayal in the N. Sane Trilogy, where she actually fights back before being outnumbered. Not only that, but they all have distinct personalities of their own now, and Beenox evidently wanted to make that clear from the start. A quick look at their promotional group picture is enough to realize several things: Isabella and Liz have a different demeanor and fighting styles, Ami is the muscle of the group, and Megumi is more cheerful than the rest. Last, but not least, we have Tawna assuming a leadership role, and the ramifications of this are ingenious in more ways than one.

Having Tawna as the leader of her own squad plays into Cortex's original intentions for her, as she was his second choice as the general of his mutant army after he gave up on Crash. It's accurate to say that being in command is literally in her genes, and in fact, an abandoned idea from the first game's development had her starting a revolution from inside Castle Cortex... so it even makes sense in a meta-context! It also explains why she isn't around often and why she doesn't live with Crash — maybe she's just busy with the Nitro Squad. From this perspective, even the photo in Crash's house is no longer awkward. Crash would want to keep a picture of Tawna if they'd never broken up (or at least stayed on good terms with each other). It's certainly a better excuse than the Pinstripe switcheroo they pulled in Japan, which mostly served as a detriment to Tawna's characterization (especially now that she has an actual personality in the games). The crazy thing is that this is all possible thanks to a DLC pack in a CTR remake, of all things, showing how rewarding it is to put effort behind your characters, regardless of the medium.

I definitely wouldn't mind seeing the Nitro Squad making further appearances. They're a quirky bunch with something unique to offer, and the male-to-female ratio would feel a little less disproportional with them appearing or being acknowledged every now and then, cameos or otherwise. Heck, the games are always eager to use mind control as a plot device; let's give Coco something to do and have a boss fight against the whole squad. I can totally see Megumi using some ridiculous mech to her advantage, or Liz using her strength to knock out the opposition. As has always been the case with Crash Bandicoot characters, the potential is vast, and the possibilities are intriguing!


Hey there! Thanks for reading this short little post about some of the new CTR: Nitro-Fueled content. I'm trying to put as much time as I can into making a full-fledged Nitro-Fueled update possible, and while there's no doubt in my mind that it'll be done, I can speed things up considerably with your help if you're feeling charitable. Simply use the orange Ko-fi button below if you'd like to support this big update, which is being made with all the love and care you've come to expect from Crash Mania and myself. Otherwise, feel free to share the site and any articles you like, as that also goes a long way to help me out. Or just stick around and have fun. Whatever you decide, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll visit again soon! — HP Zoner




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