Sunday, September 20, 2020

Juiced Up - Crash Team Racing - Part 3

Our favorite little dragon had to retire back to the Dragon Realms: Something about Gnasty Gnorc coming back for the umpteenth time. Nonetheless, Team Newdarkcloud still needs a new driver to continue our efforts to win the right to face Oxide for the fate of the planet.

Fortunately for both myself and my Marvelous Duo cohort, Acharky, we had another lined up for just such an occasion. Everyone's favorite unreasonably muscular, top-heavy gladiator, Tiny Tiger, is ready to represent!

In the first post I wrote for this series, I promised that I would talk about the weapons and how I feel that the Nitro Fueled remake changed them. Those changes, and their consequences, aren't something one'll notice unless they start to really focus on the minute aspects of the game.

Like many kart racers in this genre, the weapons serve as a way for players falling behind to close the gap that separates them from those ahead of them in the competition. The further one falls in the standings, the more powerful the weapons they receive. This is still mostly true, and you'll see that it's not until I'm in fifth place or lower that N Trophy's Clock or the Warp Orb start to spawn for me.

What seems to have mostly changed is that spawn rates for certain weapons in the higher positions, particularly second and third. First place seems right: When we're already in front of everyone else, we really only want weapons like Nitro crates and the beakers, which can be laid behind us to protect ourselves from missiles or to lay traps for the competition, keeping our lead. 

In second and third, we still want this same protect because there are people in the back who want to get ahead of us, but it's not as urgent as taking out the person in the lead. This means that we want a healthy mix of forward facing projectile weapons like missiles and bombs and more defensive items. However, the remake appears to skew that balance more towards the later than the former. And since forward facing items spawn less frequently, those looking to get ahead find it difficult to take out the person currently winning the race, entrenching their position.

This effect is made even worse since missiles appear track a lot worse than they used to. Back in the PS1-era, I remember that no matter how far ahead for with respect to the person who launched a missile, they did a fantastic job of navigating the obstacles of the track in order to home in on their targets. With the exception of the Warp Orb, they're still far and away the most effective weapon in the game, but that effectiveness appears to be diminished significantly. 

It's something you may have noticed while watching me play, but it's even more clear once the game goes online: The person in first place, once they get sufficiently far ahead, becomes impossible to interact with to the point where we might as well concede the race. I don't recall having this same problem in the PS1 original, so I have to assume there's something that was lost in translation, even if I don't have exact knowledge of what was changed to cause both of these effects.

That said, it's only a small blemish in the grand scheme of things, and doesn't overly impact the quality of the game as a whole.

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