Nearly two years ago now , Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D by developer Polarbit was amongst the first batch of games released onto Apple's fledgling App Store. At the time, it was an impressive example of what could be achieved on a mobile phone, and glimpsed at a bright future for iPhone gaming. Looking back on it today, however, the decidedly lackluster graphics, stuttering framerate, and deplorably short draw distance mar the otherwise very enjoyable gameplay. It's still a good game, but in the time since its release a number of competing kart racers like Shrek Kart and Cocoto Kart have raised the bar considerably in terms of graphics and notable features like online multiplayer. Now, Polarbit has reentered the fray with a sequel that - for the most part - addresses the downfalls of the original, delivering a largely familiar but wholly expanded upon experience with Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2.

The most immediately noticeable improvement in Crash 2 is the visuals. The scenery is detailed and brightly colored, and thankfully the dreadful draw distance of the first game is nonexistent. The levels are cleverly designed with multiple pathways, varying track elevations, and many different shortcuts waiting to be discovered. The character and kart models are notably better this time around, consisting of a higher polygon count and much more detail and personality. The framerate can still get choppy when there is a lot of action onscreen at once, but it's hardly ever bothersome and is significantly better than the original's. The load times are a bit long, and the audio can stutter while loading on occasion. Some users are reporting the game crashing, although this was infrequent in our time with the game. Also of note is the excellent music and sound effects throughout that bring the game to life without ever feeling overbearing.

Gameplay-wise Crash 2 features the familiar drift-heavy, combat-intensive racing found in its previous iteration, as well as most every other kart racing game since the inception of Super Mario Kart. It's a proven formula that's executed quite well here, but can be highly unforgiving. One wrong turn or attack from an opponent can cost you an entire race, but this can work to your benefit too, allowing you to come from behind and still win. It can end up being frustrating to race near perfectly only to lose at the very last stretch of track because someone launched a missile into your backside. This is par for the course in games like this, however, and the frenetic fun outweighs the frustration. Touch or tilt controls are available, and while the tilt felt a little more comfortable I found the touch option allowed for more finesse while turning. The controls are really responsive, and either option should be suitable for most people.

The number of different game modes in Crash 2 is quite impressive. The standards are here, such as Arcade, Time Attack, Cup races and more, but some others that offer more non-traditional racing. For example, Mission Mode presents one specific objective for each of the 12 courses. You may need to accumulate a certain amount of points by drifting, or collect a number of different items, all while still placing 3rd or better in the race. These different modes offer a fun way to play through the game's content while staying fresh and engaging, although sometimes the requirements to complete them can be brutally difficult. There's a total of 10 characters, 12 courses, and 8 modes in Crash 2, the majority of which are unlocked as you progress through the game.

One standout feature is the ability to race online against players from all over the world. It works incredibly easily, as you just type in a username and connect to a lobby showing available rooms to join. You can create your own room as well, and as host can pick which mode and track to play. The types of online games are standard races, knockout-style Eliminator mode, and Collection where the goal is to be the racer who collects the most crystals by the end of the race. Our experience racing online worked well and was relatively lag-free, and adds a tremendous amount of replayability to the title.

In the end, Crash 2 is just what you would expect out of a sequel. They've taken all of the great elements of the first game, refined them, and added a ton more content on top. If you were a fan of the original game, then you should no doubt enjoy this one even more. If you have yet to pick up one of the many kart racers on the App Store, then Crash 2 is likely your best option. It feels as close as you can get to something like Mario Kart DS on this platform. The overly difficult challenges and somewhat cheap combat mechanics will likely frustrate some more than others, but overall the game is a lot of fun. With a ton of content, beautiful graphics and presentation, excellent online play, and the pedigree of one of the App Store's first classics, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 is definitely recommended.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • klouud

    Sounds great! I was surprised at how much praise the first one got when in reality it was a horrible example of a Kart racer.

  • klouud

    Sounds great! I was surprised at how much praise the first one got when in reality it was a horrible example of a Kart racer.

  • TKO

    Sounds really good.. then I saw the price. I prefer not to be a price-griper, but at 10 bucks I'm gonna be waiting for a sale. Far too many good kart-racers already out there for much less outlay.

    Anyway, glad to see the originals faults addressed in a sequel. The original was good in that it was first, but age and the progress of iPhone gaming haven't treated it well.

  • TKO

    Sounds really good.. then I saw the price. I prefer not to be a price-griper, but at 10 bucks I'm gonna be waiting for a sale. Far too many good kart-racers already out there for much less outlay.

    Anyway, glad to see the originals faults addressed in a sequel. The original was good in that it was first, but age and the progress of iPhone gaming haven't treated it well.

  • akira01

    Yep, this is a very good game, a real Mario Kart like...

  • akira01

    Yep, this is a very good game, a real Mario Kart like...

  • JJOO

    The framerate sucks... again.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Not on my 3Gs, it doesn't.

    • Xurkey

      Upgrade your iDevice and please stop complaining.

      Thank you,

      • JJOO

        Ok, the iPhone 3G users have to buy another most powerful device, right?
        Great solution!

        The game sucks on iPhone 3G... again.

        You are welcome.

      • Miken

        Crash bandicoot nitro kart 1 too work badly on iPhone 3G.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        The difference is that CBN1 performs badly on all devices -- iPhone 3Gs and iPod Touch 3rd Gen included. CBN2 performs well on current gen devices (and iPod Touch 2nd Gens, apparently). Nothing against original and 3G iPhone users, but it's only natural that 3D games with complex graphics will perform poorly in lowered-powered devices.

  • JJOO

    The framerate sucks... again.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Not on my 3Gs, it doesn't.

    • Xurkey

      Upgrade your iDevice and please stop complaining.

      Thank you,

      • JJOO

        Ok, the iPhone 3G users have to buy another most powerful device, right?
        Great solution!

        The game sucks on iPhone 3G... again.

        You are welcome.

      • Miken

        Crash bandicoot nitro kart 1 too work badly on iPhone 3G.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        The difference is that CBN1 performs badly on all devices -- iPhone 3Gs and iPod Touch 3rd Gen included. CBN2 performs well on current gen devices (and iPod Touch 2nd Gens, apparently). Nothing against original and 3G iPhone users, but it's only natural that 3D games with complex graphics will perform poorly in lowered-powered devices.

  • Capone

    What about the first iPhone generation? I mean, I have an iPhone since late 2007, and it runs Shrek Kart and Cocoto Kart just fine. What about this game?
    Thanks. ;-)

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Opinion seems to range on the thread.

      BTW, neither Shrek Kart nor Cocoto run "well" on the iPhone 3G, at least not to people who have seen them on current gen hardware.

      • Capone

        Well, I don't have a 3G, but a 2G. And I think Shrek Kart as well as Cocoto Kart run well there. I'm sure they run much smoother on better iDevices, but if you don't know the difference, you're just happy. ;-)

  • Capone

    What about the first iPhone generation? I mean, I have an iPhone since late 2007, and it runs Shrek Kart and Cocoto Kart just fine. What about this game?
    Thanks. ;-)

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Opinion seems to range on the thread.

      BTW, neither Shrek Kart nor Cocoto run "well" on the iPhone 3G, at least not to people who have seen them on current gen hardware.

      • Capone

        Well, I don't have a 3G, but a 2G. And I think Shrek Kart as well as Cocoto Kart run well there. I'm sure they run much smoother on better iDevices, but if you don't know the difference, you're just happy. ;-)

  • http://www.ummband.com poutini

    does it still drive automatically, or are there gas/brake buttons this time around?

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Break but no gas. It really doesn't make a difference -- this is a kart racer, not a racing sim where you have to make careful adjustments. In any event, there's a difference between "drive automatically" and "auto-gas."

  • http://www.ummband.com poutini

    does it still drive automatically, or are there gas/brake buttons this time around?

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Break but no gas. It really doesn't make a difference -- this is a kart racer, not a racing sim where you have to make careful adjustments. In any event, there's a difference between "drive automatically" and "auto-gas."

  • dumas1000

    If someone is "stuck" with a 3g iphone, and doesn't own a 3gs, is stuck in Apple/At&t's manditory contract, and he lives in the US, that idevice upgrade spoken of earlier would cost them $700. Only an idiot would pay $700 to upgrade from a 3g to a 3gs. However, purchasing a 3g ipod touch, even if you already own a 3g iphone, is certainly a worthwhile investment. That's what I did. Unfortunately, the 3g ipod touch has a battery life of approximately 1 hour (for high-consumption games), and that's not an exaggeration. I bought an external battery with enough juice to completely recharge an idevice 5 times over. This battery is a beast. It's ridiculous. So, it cost me, in the end, an extra $400, just to upgrade my idevice. That still beats the heck out of $700.

    Bottom line, it's simply not enconomically feasible for many people stuck in contracts (contracts that they had no choice but to sign because there is an iphone monopoly here in the US) to upgrade their idevice. Some people are simply stuck with what they got, through no fault of their own.

  • dumas1000

    If someone is "stuck" with a 3g iphone, and doesn't own a 3gs, is stuck in Apple/At&t's manditory contract, and he lives in the US, that idevice upgrade spoken of earlier would cost them $700. Only an idiot would pay $700 to upgrade from a 3g to a 3gs. However, purchasing a 3g ipod touch, even if you already own a 3g iphone, is certainly a worthwhile investment. That's what I did. Unfortunately, the 3g ipod touch has a battery life of approximately 1 hour (for high-consumption games), and that's not an exaggeration. I bought an external battery with enough juice to completely recharge an idevice 5 times over. This battery is a beast. It's ridiculous. So, it cost me, in the end, an extra $400, just to upgrade my idevice. That still beats the heck out of $700.

    Bottom line, it's simply not enconomically feasible for many people stuck in contracts (contracts that they had no choice but to sign because there is an iphone monopoly here in the US) to upgrade their idevice. Some people are simply stuck with what they got, through no fault of their own.

  • Patrick

    "found in it's previous iteration" should be:
    "found in its previous iteration".

    • Jared Nelson

      Thanks, corrected. That's an easy mistake to make :)

      Are you a teacher? Apparently that little mix up drives them nuts ;)

  • Patrick

    "found in it's previous iteration" should be:
    "found in its previous iteration".

    • Jared Nelson

      Thanks, corrected. That's an easy mistake to make :)

      Are you a teacher? Apparently that little mix up drives them nuts ;)

  • Pepi

    Slow loading times? Not really! 2 sec to load a track!

  • Pepi

    Slow loading times? Not really! 2 sec to load a track!

  • RiverOnFire

    A very very thorough review. Thanks!!!

  • RiverOnFire

    A very very thorough review. Thanks!!!

  • dl

    How do you unlock the new characters?

  • dl

    How do you unlock the new characters?

  • http://www.generationstarwars.com John Hood

    I've held off purchasing this racer! Superlative review. Sold.

  • http://www.generationstarwars.com John Hood

    I've held off purchasing this racer! Superlative review. Sold.

  • http://soiled.com Gload

    There's no exploits like Snaking right?

  • http://soiled.com Gload

    There's no exploits like Snaking right?

  • Mellychet

    Wonder if they will be releasing an iPad version, after playing this on a mates iPhone Iwould love to have an HD version on my iPad.

  • Mellychet

    Wonder if they will be releasing an iPad version, after playing this on a mates iPhone Iwould love to have an HD version on my iPad.

  • Adam

    I'm not sure if it's my version of Itouch or not....but the game has glitches....

    Left suddenly equals Right

    the game crashes

    the alignment is not nearly as good as the first game....

    but all in all, it's a good game...I got it for .99 cents which IMO is a steal...but kinda wish it was better.

  • Adam

    I have 71/72 Mission Points....but I still have yet to unlock Ripper Roo or his kart....

    just another glitch I have experienced with this game....sadly one of many.

    Now this could be because my itouch is out dated...but disheartening none the least.

  • Anonymous

    Can we download it for free? If its not, tell me any game relating to it is free downloadable...
    Is crash Bandicoot Nitro kart 2 is compatible with Windows-7?

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4