Game Reviews

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D (iPhone)

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Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D (iPhone)

Not that it's a particularly big deal, but Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D is packaged in an impressively small file size.

Weighing in at only 7.1MB, considering its superb graphics, lots of levels, great music and slick gameplay makes the quality of the code really shine.

It takes a lot of effort and expertise on the programmer's part to squash a great game into a small space, and we're already seeing some increasingly large files sizes in the App Store, what with the Apple mobile featuring at least 8GB of storage space.

So in a few months' time, when we've laden our iPhones with 200 albums, the entire 14 episode series of Firefly and three-dozen games, it won't be the lightweight Nitro Kart that gets binned because of a full memory.

Indeed, this is likely to be one of those vital applications that remains on your iPhone indefinitely.

Cro-Mag Rally already scored well, landing itself a Silver Award for its Mario Kart-esque gameplay, and it's quite inevitable that these two games will be racing neck-and-neck for first place in the iPhone's driving game launch championship. So let's put our foot to the floor and find out who crosses the chequered flag first, shall we?

The most significant difference in Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D's gameplay is the acceleration of the vehicles. Here, it's automatic, and while this initially feels a little like there's a lack of control, any mental discomfort is forgotten by the end of the first lap.

Steering makes use of the iPhone's (and iPod touch, of course) built-in motion sensing, and demonstrates the sensitivity of that function beautifully. The analogue steering wheel substitute – achieved by simply rotating the handset while holding it in a landscape orientation – works remarkably well, and at no point do you feel that waving the screen around obscures your view.

The karts react with an impressive sensitivity to even the slightest turn of the handset, too, and further proves the iPhone's surprise suitability for racing games.

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D sports several modes of play, and although each different option is based within the same circuits, there's no shortage of levels to play through. Quick Race gets things started straight away, throwing you into the driver's seat in your choice of unlocked levels, while the Cup mode involves a tournament race around four different tracks.

Pretty standard stuff, but there's also a quickly unlocked Story mode which adds a bit of plot to the racing and automatically mixes up your vehicle selection, opponents and number of required laps to add a bit of random interest to the races.

Yet it's the fluidity of those levels, rather than the gameplay variations, that really makes Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D sparkle. The visuals are liquid-slick, while the speed of the action and dynamism of the different circuits makes for some thoroughly absorbing, seat-of-the-pants driving.

The extra speed and automatic acceleration means many of the corners are simply too tight for the karts to navigate, but holding your finger on the 'jump button' area initiates a powerslide, enabling you to tear up the tracks with some rubber-dissolving drifts.

As with Cro-Mag Rally, there's a small hole in the game that could be filled with wireless multiplayer, but regardless of this minor omission, the extra polish on the circuit designs and smoother controls see Nitro Kart across the finish line first.

Whether you're a fan of the Bandicoot franchise or not (and this reviewer has never really found much appeal in the Taz rip-off), Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D is undeniably one of the most playable, attractive and intuitive showcases for the iPhone's gaming capabilities.

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D (iPhone)

Quite simply a vital game - even you already bought Cro-Mag Rally, there's no reason not to pick up Nitro Kart, too. Your iPhone will love you for it