Crash Nitro Kart, which originally appeared last year on all the major gaming consoles, was a solid genre exercise. As most kart racing games do, it took plenty of cues from the seminal Super Mario Kart, and though the characters weren't as memorable as the Italian plumber and his pals, it basically hit all of the marks that such a game needs to. Now, developer Vicarious Visions has brought what is essentially a miniaturized version of CNK to the N-Gage, complete with fully 3D tracks and four-player competitive multiplayer action. But it seems that Vicarious Visions hasn't accounted enough for the narrow rectangular orientation of the N-Gage's screen, and the lack of peripheral vision ends up hurting the game's playability a lot.
Crash Nitro Kart kicks things off with an appropriately wacky story concerning an intergalactic kart racing competition in which the fate of Earth hangs in the balance. Beyond the first five minutes of the game, the story elements only pop up occasionally, and the focus is put where it ought to be--on the kart racing. CNK doesn't really do anything too daring with standard kart racing conventions, which is fine, because it executes them rather well. You'll compete against computer-controlled racers in a series of lap-based contests where the tracks are riddled with speed-boosting pads and mysterious crates filled with oddball power-ups and weapons that can be used to enact some great reversals of fortune.
If you grow weary of the artificially intelligent opponents and have some friends within shouting distance who also own N-Gages, CNK has Bluetooth support for up to four players. The racing and battling modes contained within, while formulaic, do what they're supposed to do. The game also features N-Gage Arena support, which consists entirely of the almost obligatory ghost races. It seems largely irrelevant, since, as a kart racer, half the fun in CNK is mischievously overcoming your opponents through the help of power-ups, which have no effect during ghost races.