Crash Nitro Kart
Iíve never really been a fan of handheld gaming, apart from the odd bash at Pokemon or Wario Ware. I actually havenít owned one of these popular platforms for very long. Naturally I was skeptical when I started playing my first ever game on the N-Gage, Crash Nitro Kart.
This game is essentially a throwback to the end of the 20th century, where Ďkartingí games became all the rage, mainly thanks to the release of Mario Kart 64. On the PSone there was one such game, Crash Team Racing (CTR), which took characters from the popular Crash Bandicoot platformer and put them in go-karts. CNK on the N-Gage is an adaptation of the 90s incarnation of the game, and they even put a nice little story in the game too.
You have to keep…
Crash and his racing crew of two other bandicoots, Coco and Tiny, must race against the evil Velo to try and…save earth? To be honest, the story is rather irrelevant to the game most of the time, with only the boss introductions being of any real importance. In other words, the game is essentially a series of races which you complete in sequence to progress. Once completing the story section, you can then complete a bunch of other races to collect relics, trophies and unlock secrets.
As a game aimed at the younger market section, CNK is a rather simple game to play - once you overcome some of the N-Gageís problems that is. One of these is the N-Gageís portrait orientated screen, which is limited in how effectively it can display 3D environments. Careful design can overcome this, but the steps required to achieve this havenít been taken. The camera sits too low to the track, and gives you the lovely close-up view of a kartís rear, rather than the upcoming action. This often means that in the first few races youíll end up plunging into a wall of some kind, and get stuck. There is a map to assist you, but itís still rather irritating. CNK is also hurt by the fact that the N-Gage doesnít have any shoulder buttons, this means that you must hold down Ď5í the whole time, while trying to push other buttons with the same thumb. Not only is this awkward, but itís uncomfortable to hold your finger on the button for extended lengths of time, reducing the length of sessions.
Crash Nitro Kart is a fun game to play however, and is excellent for burning 20 minutes or so that would be pointless to use playing a console game. I think this is mainly due to the mix of weapons and simple game mechanics, which makes the races close throughout. This gentle learning curve allows the game access the younger market section, but also allows anyone to pick up and play the game, which is great.
The graphics in CNK are probably just below the level of the PSone game. The models of each character have a relatively high polygon count, and the course textures are okay for the purpose, although they to get monotonous after a while. The game is generally bright and cartoony, which once again suits the target market group. Unfortunately the N-Gageís screen size and orientation reduces its ability to give the player the same experience youíd receive from a PSP or Nintendo DS. The camera in particular showcasing itís incompetancies with dealing with the racing genre. The sound effects and music in the game are rather archaic, reminding me of the original Gameboy or old-school cell[sic - for the americans Wink] phone. The background music sounds like it was done on ĎMy First Synthesiserí and the sound-effects arenít really any better. I would have liked to have some speech and video for the story sections, rather than the static screens in CNK.
…with N-Gage games.
Overall Crash Nitro Kart is a game perfect for killing short time intervals, especially for people who get bored easily. Itís not really an essential purchase however, and although I didnít get to sample the multiplayer, I think that this game is one to get on the cheap.
Six out of ten