If not for the pit stop and grand prix system, this game would be a 5/5, no questions asked. On the face, it's just Crash Team Racing
again, but with almost everything you wanted the first time and more. Sure, they didn't add in the Crash 1 and 2 bosses missing from CTR, but they added all the Crash Nitro Kart
characters and courses, in addition to every CTR character and course, AND the adventure mode. It's CTR translated very well to HD (unlike certain other Activision HD remakes
) with the ability to play as any character in adventure mode, and more tracks.
Beenox also added karts from other Crash racing games, full-on alternate costumes for most of the cast, and a bunch of different paint jobs. These are locked behind the pit stop, which is what brings the game down from perfection to annoyance.
The contents of the pit stop are decided by Beenox every day, and rotate out at 8 PM EST to the next set. If you buy something, it is replaced by the next thing in line. So far, buying a lot of shit if the only way to get to certain things. I checked every day for nearly the first month this game was out, and never once saw the thing I wanted (Pinstripe's alternate outfit).
This issue is compounded by the monthly grand prix system. Every month, they're adding more characters, more outfits, more karts, more paint jobs, and a free new track. The new tracks so far have been pretty good, except for the Spyro track, which is godawful. Unfortunately, the other new items simply serve to clog the pit stop. Every day of the grand prix (which lasts nearly an entire month), items from that grand prix are pushed to the top. Characters can be acquired individually or through expensive bundles. It doesn't help that the current grand prix (Back in Time) introduced everyone's favourite from Mario Kart [マリオカート]
, baby versions of the main characters.
The pit stop's rotation wouldn't be an issue if not for the currency. Wumpa coins are earned through races. As someone who does not pay for the online services of any of the consoles, I am left in the dust. If I want anything, I have to grind out the same races over and over. What's worse is that in the first update, Beenox actually nerfed the payout of the former best grinding race, Jungle Boogie.
This, of course, led our glorious saviour Activision to hear our complaints about wumpa coins and generously offer us the chance to pay real money for wumpa coins. 11,000 wumpa coins can be yours for just $10. This can buy you one (1) character bundle OR two (2) karts OR four (4) costumes OR seven (7) full characters with no frills. What a fucking deal.
Nitro-Fueled's pit stop and wumpa coin systems are so fucking terrible that the game would unironically be better if nothing from the pit stop was even in the game at all.
edit: The October update did help the currency problem. On weekends, all of your wumpa coin gains are doubled. So just spam Lab Basement crystal challenge on hard, keep failing it, and get 30 coins every minute. It's not so bad if you just idle grind for 300 hours
I have since idle grinded my way to owning everything in the pit stop. It's not bad at all if you're playing on Switch, because you can just mash the button every so often while doing something else.
edit 2: November's update added a new mode called Ring Rally. This mode is amazing, and the second wave of updates has been incredible so far. If the December update goes in just as hard as October and November, I may have to call this game of the year.
edit 3: When I originally wrote this, I had it at 4/5. Clearing the pit stop combined with grand prixes 4-6 really got me past my complaints. It's a shame that there's so much grinding to get to that point, but not having to worry about anything but racing really lets the actual gameplay shine through. It's the best kart racer around.