Five months from now, Crash and friends will race once more after a 20-year-long pit stop in Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled.
With a new year kicked off, we think it’s a good time to release the second part with our interview with Beenox Creative Director and Co-Studio Head Thomas Wilson to talk more about CTR.
Here’s more of what he had to say about the game as release fans are revving up their gears:
Activision Games Blog: What makes Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled stand out as a racing game?
Thomas Wilson: For me, there are a few things to be talking about:
First and foremost, the way you race; the racing experience is very unique in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. In the original game, you can drift around corners — and on straight lines too — and get a boost, but it requires skill. You have to trigger it manually and time it right to get up to a three times boost, and you can maintain that boost for quite a long time when you become an experienced racer.
There’s an old saying out there: easy to play, hard to master. That totally applies to Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. It’s a game of skill. Anyone can enjoy it, but those who want to go for a competitive experience needs to master the drifting mechanic.
Another is the Adventure mode. You can enjoy a single-player experience with bosses to defeat and things to unlock as you are competing in this mode. This alone makes this game very different from the rest of the racing games out there.
And last, but not least, the personality we’re injecting into Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will stand out from the rest of the racing games out there. There are so many details that go into the characters themselves — their animations, how they react when they win or lose, the victory animations when they get on the podium… That’s all unique to each character, and it’s something I think people will appreciate.
You just released new gameplay assets, what can you tell us about new gameplay features (e.g., music)?
We’re huge fans of the iconic sound of the original games, and I still have the original soundtrack to Crash Team Racing stuck in my head. It was so important to us that, when we were talking about remastering the music, we had to pay tribute to the original sounds.
For example, the Dragon Mines. In the original soundtrack for that level, you can hear a harmonica, but it was made with a synthesizer. Our Animation Director, Alexandre Lessard, plays the harmonica – he’s an amazing blues artist – so he went into the recording booth to play that same melody with a real harmonica. You still have the same sound, but it feels more authentic.
Another is Tiny Arena. In Nitro-Fueled, we pushed the personality of the track to feel more like a monster truck arena with metal, graffiti, and fire coming out of Tiny statues. Then our Senior Audio Designer, Nicolas Tremblay, listened to the soundtrack and made it sound more like a rock song with a little bit of metal to emphasize that feeling you get in a monster truck arena.
It’s still the original music or sounds — the layouts are all the same and the same soundtrack is there — but there is just a little more personality injected into it. Everywhere we could, we injected personality into the soundtrack by adding deeper layers of music.
How is your team able to take a game from nearly 20 years ago and bring it back to life? In other words, what is the development process like for this game so far?
When you’re talking about bringing back a game from two decades ago, you need to first do your homework. So we booted up our old PS1 and started playing the original game.
When you do that, you get a feel for what the game was and start to remember why you fell in love with it in the first place. So we play the game, analyze it, and, by using a whole new engine, figure out how we can pay homage to the look and feel for driving in this generation.
We also made sure we compared the feel of accelerating, turning, drifting, jumping when we got that new game engine running, and we are constantly working to make sure we are staying true to the inspiration of the original game.
At the same time, we knew we could recreate the spirit of the original environments in stunning HD, so we took screenshots of the original game and had our concept artists paint over them to see how much detail we could add to them. Then we share each concept art with the Environment team so they can identify what needs to be created to enrich those levels.
It’s really all a matter of looking at where we can add details while staying true to the game’s original spirit.
Out of all of the development team members, who is the best Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled racer? Is there already a Beenox racing league already in place for this game?
*laughs* We have regular play sessions and have a few team members who are really good at it.
We have two designers — William Parent-Labonté and Christian Auger-Morin — who used to be testers for and were super hardcore fans. Another hardcore fan is one of our programmers, Richard Harvey-Levert.
These guys were still playing the original game even when we started with Nitro-Fueled. We turn to them to make sure we do things right in terms of being authentic. While we are developing the game, we put the controller in their hands and ask them, “Does this feel right?”
Finally, five months out from the game's release, what do you hope old-school fans of Crash Team Racing will appreciate from this game? What do you hope newcomers to the series feel about it?
The easy, cheesy answer is that I hope they enjoy everything. I hope they see the love and passion that our studio put into this game, and that every decision to make Nitro-Fueled a reality will be appreciated.
We are fans of the original game; we want to bring back that authentic experience, but we also want to introduce this game to new fans of Crash Bandicoot.
We want the old fans to jump in and appreciate how authentic it is based on what they remember. And we want newcomers to come in and just appreciate a great racing game.
Above all, whether it’s playing by themselves in Adventure mode, playing Multiplayer offline on the couch with a buddy, or racing online, we hope everyone has a blast playing this game.
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.