Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D
Crash putt putts his way onto iPhone in this attractive 3D racing game.
IPhone's accelerometer makes it perfect for racing games like Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D. Vivendi's App, available for $9.99, lets you motor through 12 3D tracks and hurl various weapons at your opponents. It looks good, plays well and should provide a few hours of fun, making it both an ideal game to whip out when you're bored and a cool showpiece for the hardware.
Much like the Mario Kart franchise and Crash's more famous kart racer, Crash Team Racing, Nitro Kart challenges you to beat your opponents to the finish line by any means necessary, whether that involves bumping them into a wall or attacking them with weapons. Sure, you could be nice, but it's hard to resist chucking a bomb at someone or activating a pick-up that teleports you to first or second place. Besides, since the game doesn't have a multiplayer mode (a shame, really), you shouldn't feel bad about terrorizing the computer.
As its name implies, Nitro Kart has impressive 3D graphics that do a nice job showing what iPhone is capable of. Crash and five other characters (Dr. Neo Cortex, Coco, Ripper Roo, Nitrous Oxide and Yaya Panda) explore attractive environments that plunge them into outer space and a forest, among other locales. In their travels, they'll dodge hazards like falling platforms and crabs while acquiring power-ups littered across the tracks and hitting special boost pads for extra speed. Things get choppy whenever too many racers clutter the screen, but the game runs ok for the most part.
Unlike other iPhone Apps, the controls are well implemented and responsive. Thanks to the accelerometer, there's no need to use a d-pad to control the action. Instead, you tilt the iPhone left and right to steer while accessing items by tapping their respective icons, located on the touch screen. In addition, you can drift around corners by pressing anywhere on the screen while taking a turn, and jump with a quick double tap. And don't worry about hitting the gas. Unless it runs into something, the kart automatically moves at its max speed.
Beating the first Cup opens up new modes, but they're mostly filler. You've got three Cups, each progressively harder than the last, a Story mode that's nothing more than races with brief intros as to why you're racing and a Time Trial mode that challenges you to record your personal best times for each track. It's a decent package, but we grew tired of it within a few hours. The fact that Nitro Kart lacks a multiplayer mode, a staple of kart racing games, means it won't occupy your time very long.
For a launch game, however, Vivendi succeeds in bringing an impressive looking and fun racing game to iPhone. If you desperately need a racer, you could do worse than Crash's latest speedster.
What's Hot: Impressive 3D graphics, 12 tracks, eight weapons and enjoyable tilt controls.
What's Not: Action slows down when too much happens, not enough characters, no multiplayer mode.