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Crash Nitro Kart (handheld) - Overview


Crash Nitro Kart marks the first time one of the console games was coupled with a handheld version. As could be expected from the much more limited hardware, the handheld version is vastly different, but the same premise and spirit are carried over. Let's check how enjoyable the experience is when compared to the console version.

Crash Bandicoot drifts in a sandy beach with his kart.Despite the hardware limitations, the controls and general rules are carried over from the console version.

The Game Boy Advance is incapable of rendering complex 3D stuff, but like the previous titles for the system, the pre-rendered graphics help in preserving the usual three-dimensional feel of the series, even if some things just can't be replicated that well. Most notably, all of the tracks are now flat, and cutscenes are made up of simple shots taken from the console version.

One year after the Game Boy Advance version, an improved port was released for Nokia's handheld/phone hybrid, the N-Gage. This version actually sports full 3D geometry for the tracks, making it look all the better for it. On the other hand, the N-Gage's vertical screen really isn't suited for this type of game, and the camera in this version follows your character so closely it quickly becomes disorientating. The layouts were all kept the same though, and nothing else changed besides the addition of an online ranking board, now deader than the N-Gage was on arrival.

Musically speaking, the Game Boy Advance version is terribly repetitive. The soundtrack consists of short loops that are all around 15 seconds long, making it much more grating than it should be. This may be a hint of a rushed development, because the loops in the later Japanese release are longer. The character taunts are as lame as in the console version, but they are much fewer here. For some reason, Crash's voice wasn't sped up like it was for consoles, so he sounds deeper than usual. Maybe they should have just gotten a more suitable voice for the role to avoid the issue altogether.

Spyro the Dragon drives a kart around a futuristic city covered in metal surfaces.Certain characters are exclusive to this version, including a cameo by Spyro the Dragon.

Not much else is different from the console version. Besides a slightly different character roster (featuring playable bosses and Spyro the Dragon at the cost of the unmemorable Zam and Zem), most of the content was brought to the handheld version (even if in name only), including multiplayer races. The anti-gravity segments are gone, but like the console version, the game tries to be as close to Crash Team Racing as possible. Surprisingly, the pace here is actually a little bit closer to that game than the slower racing from the console version.

Relatively speaking, this version of Crash Nitro Kart takes better advantage of its hardware than the console game, so besides the music and the short number of race tracks (which was an issue on home consoles as well), not much can be fairly held against it. It's a pretty decent racing game for the Game Boy Advance that does its job well.

The good

  • Solid gameplay
  • Large playable cast

The bad

  • Few race tracks
  • Annoying music
  • Terrible camera in the N-Gage version


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