At The Game Awards, Crash Team Racing fans from around the world let out a collective, “Whoa!” when a certain orange marsupial helped reveal the official trailer for Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
One of those fans was Thomas Wilson, who is also the Creative Director and Co-Studio Head at the game’s development studio, Beenox.
“When we started having conversations about remastering Crash Team Racing, I was pinching myself. I was like, “Oh my god, let this be real!”— Thomas Wilson, Creative Director and Co-Studio Head, Beenox.
We braved the cold to visit him at Beenox’s Quebec City studio during the game’s development to talk about all things Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Here’s some of what he was thrilled to share with us:
Activision Games Blog: For you personally as a gamer, what has your experience been with Crash Team Racing?
Wilson: I grew up with Crash Bandicoot; I was a big fan of the character and the series.
I played pretty much all of the original Crash Bandicoot games, so when Vicarious Visions came out with the N. Sane Trilogy, it was like going back in time two decades to when I was first having fun playing those games. It was absolutely great.
When I started out in the video game industry 20 years ago, it was right around the time that the original Crash Team Racing came out. It was my favorite game when it was released. I played it a lot with my girlfriend at the time and we were having a blast playing it.
I also really enjoyed the Adventure mode. Just the idea of introducing a single-player campaign in a multiplayer kart racing game, I thought, was very innovative. I am a huge fan of Crash Team Racing, and it’s been a total privilege working on this game.
You must have loved how it felt to reveal this game at The Game Awards then, right? What was so unique about that reveal?
What I thought was exciting was how it was planned from the tease to the actual event.
Sending the fuzzy dice around was a pretty good tease, and just the idea of the mascot coming on stage at The Game Awards and presenting this box with the trophy was incredible.
This reaction and build-up was great. Synchronizing the lights in the trailer with the lights at the theater, as well as going from old-school to the remastered level, was just spot on. Seeing people’s reactions to all that was just so amazing.
Given that you are a huge fan, why is 2019 the right time to bring back CTR?
It’s the 20th anniversary of the game.
I really think this game deserves to be remastered for its 20th anniversary, because people who did not know about Crash Team Racing back then can finally learn how amazing it is.
It also gives us the opportunity to connect new fans with old fans together as one awesome community for this game. Honestly, that absolutely had to be done for how much we love this game.
What can those fans expect from Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled?
We have a few development pillars that were important in making this game:
The first is authenticity. People can expect an authentic experience. We’re all fans of the game, so the number one thing to keep in mind was to be authentic. Our goal is to make the track layout feel familiar, to have the players feel the muscle memory of the driving controls, and although we’re 20 years into the future, that the experience feels just like the way you remember it.
The other is modernization. We needed to update the graphics — what can we do to make these environments and characters feel more alive? In the original games, you had low-poly characters attached to a low-poly kart. Now we can have fully animated karts and characters. This is where we can introduce the wacky humor and personality you’d find in the franchise.
We’re also remastering the soundtrack. It’s the same score you remember, but we’re injecting much more depth to the music and adding layers with instruments.
Besides the elements we’re remastering, one of the many big things we’re adding is the ability to race online. That wasn’t something that existed when the original game was released, and it’s really a new way to play. Another is allowing players to race as Nitros Oxide — I mean, there’s something fun about playing as the bad guy, right?
Talking about the new way to play is a great way to shift gears into some more technical questions. Crash Team Racing originally was couch co-op only. What were the reasons behind giving it online multiplayer functionality?
I mean, it’s a given. It had to be done.
When you’re talking about a racing game, many players today expect to race online with other people around the world. I don’t see a racing game coming out today that doesn’t have online functionality.
Although couch co-op is great — that’s something I loved playing back in the day and still enjoy today — racing online was just a feature we felt that needed to be put in the game.
All the original modes in CTR are back. We’re talking about Adventure, Time Trials, Single Race, Cup Race, Battle Arena — all of those modes are back! Only now all multiplayer modes from the original game can be played online in the remaster.
Check back here in January for more of our Q&A with Thomas!
The standard edition of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is available for pre-order right now for a suggested retail price of $39.99, and the digital deluxe version of the game, the Nitros Oxide Edition, is available for pre-order at a suggested retail price of $59.99.