Crash Bandicoot has fallen off a lot of gamers' radars, and with good reason – the marsupial mascot hasn’t had a truly good console game in years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t relive his PlayStation glory days in portable form. Kart racer Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 is the ol' orange Aussie at his most fun. It’s colorful, it's simple, it's goofy and it's fast. The pedal's always to the metal, so you'll always race full-steam-ahead as you drift around icy, arctic mountains, bounce over lava pits and launch through dead dinosaur skeletons.
The 12 themed tracks in Nitro Kart 2 are surprisingly well-designed. They're simple enough that you're always able to blister through 'em without having to worry about taking turns perfectly and falling off a ledge, but they're complicated enough that sharp-eyed players will spot secondary routes with speed boosts or bonus power-ups. These items aren't anything you haven't seen before - missiles, rear-firing sabotage, opponent-slowing pickups, etc. - but that's largely why we dig this racer so much: It's a nostalgic comfort zone we can stash in our pocket.
Beyond the familiarity, you won't find any particular reason CBNK2 stands out. Yeah, it has online multiplayer, but you won't see any revolutionary, envelope-pushing genre improvements. It really doesn't even take advantage of existing conventions - characters have different stats, sure, but each feels the same as the last when you’re driving. The thing is, you won’t care because it’s just pure, distilled fun. CBNK2 hits directly on whichever nerve it is that also made Mario Kart such a staple in our SNES-lovin' lives.
Kart racing games are a dime-a-dozen on the iPhone - actually, they're closer to a buck apiece, but just roll with it - but Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 is among the best of its breed, and a great diversion on the upper end of the app store.
Feb 22, 2011