In the mid ’90s it looked like Crash Bandicoot was going to become the unofficial Sony mascot, Playstation’s very own Mickey Mouse. Obviously that didn’t end up happening, but the shirtless rodent has since starred in an expansive series of games and has built up some sizable brand-name cachet. Once again he’s back with a group of buddies in a cartoony kart racing game for the iPhone.
A sequel to Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, this new racer is another Mario Kart-like game, with colorful graphics, a light-hearted tone, and item pick-ups that can make or break a race. This game is deeply rooted in its Mario Kart inspiration, so you’ll find levels, items, and gameplay so similar you’ll want to call a copyright lawyer.
Drive through the ruins just like the Aztecs did.
Two control methods are on offer: tilt and touch-screen steering. Tilt is the default method, and it works very well. The invisible brake and jump buttons are all nicely placed, though you’ll either have to use trial-and-error or read the instructions to learn where they are onscreen. Also, the more advanced maneuvers like drifting are tough to figure out on your own. It would’ve been nice if they’d included a tutorial before you start your first race so you don’t have to read through page after page of text in the help menu.
But once you get started, you’ll find that Nitro Kart 2 is packed with content. There are nine characters from the Crash universe, 12 tracks, 10 cars, and a truckload of modes. The Cup mode is the main event, where you make your way though four groups of three tracks. To progress to the next group of tracks, you must come in at least in third place in the previous one. The other modes, like Collector, Eliminator, and Time Attack, focus on certain aspects of the races, like picking up gems and blasting your opponents.
There’s also a great online multiplayer mode that lets you test your skills against random opponents. You can play three different types of races in multiplayer, and you can even level up Modern Warfare-style, which is awesome. You don’t get any in-game advantages for reaching higher levels, but your rating is visible to the people you’re playing with. We experienced some connection issues when trying to join matches, but it always worked if we kept at it. We’d like to see some local multiplayer as well, but online satisfies the urge.
That’s called a game face.
All of the standard level types are represented here, including, to name a few, a lava level, a snow level, and a toxic sewer level. Many of the tracks have branching pathways and hidden shortcuts and are well-made overall. The game is very colorful, and the graphics look great.
A healthy number of items is also available, like missiles that mimic Mario Kart’s red shells, and boost tanks that act like Mario Kart’s mushrooms. We enjoyed the few original items unique to this game, including magnets and reverse orbs that mess with your opponents’ steering.
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 is a fun, polished game. Still, 10 bucks seems a bit much for what’s on offer here. It has scads of modes, well-made levels, and balanced power-ups, but there’s very little in it that you haven’t seen before. If you’re not a huge fan of kart racers, you’ll probably stop playing after the hour or so it takes you to complete the four Cup challenges. However, if kart racing is your thing, and you think you’ll want to throw some hours into the extra modes, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart Racing 2 definitely belongs on your iDevice.