The final Naughty Dog Crash title is a game called ‘Crash Team Racing’ and it is a kart racer not unlike Diddy Kong Racing or Mario Kart. It is known by many one of the best kart racers of its era of gaming and I completely agree.
Its development started after Crash 3 was completed, with it originally being a new IP for the PlayStation One. They showed it to Sony Computer Entertainment and the question of the Crash IP came up. Both Naughty Dog nor Sony owned the IP rights to Crash; Universal did.
Naughty Dog did not want to deal with Universal Interactive any more, so they told Sony ‘If you want this to be a Crash game, sort something out with Universal.” Sony then went to Universal and told them they wanted to license out the IP for two more games; one with Naughty Dog and one with Eurocom Interactive.
Universal agreed and told Sony they had 9 months to get CTR complete. Sony went to Naughty Dog and informed them “You can use the Crash IP now” and work on CTR began with a small team inside Naughty Dog. The bigger team inside Naughty Dog went on to prototype a new IP for the PlayStation 2, called ‘Jak and Daxter’.
What Naughty Dog did to test how big the race tracks could be for CTR was taking a Diddy Kong Racing track and porting it into CTR’s engine. In many cases, they were inspired by Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing during CTR’s development, with the concept of the Adventure Mode being a result of this inspiration.
Some other information about the title is that the game used its engine to down-grade the character models when more then two players were on screen and support for the PlayStation One Multitap, which allowed for four player gameplay, was implemented during development.
The game released in 1999 to strong reception and the game celebrates the work Naughty Dog did with the Crash series with a special video unlocked when you collect everything.
After CTR, they moved away from the Crash Bandicoot IP and started work with their new flagship series for Sony and PlayStation on the PS2.
Before we move on though, we have to talk about the JP version of the game, due to it receiving many changes. It is called ‘Crash Bandicoot Racing’ instead of Crash Team Racing in Japan.
The Japanese intro has an announcer reading out the messages before the start of the game, and the music is completely different. We also have the character icons being quite different as well.
The character Ripper Roo now speaks in an real language instead of his crazed laughing and like with the Japanese versions of the previous Crash games, a hidden video was added and can be viewed by holding L1 + L2 + R1 + R2 at the PlayStation logo during startup. You have to reset your console after the video has finished playing however.
Other Noteworthy Changes
- TNT crates no longer say TNT on them, instead sporting a lovely generic bomb picture on them.
- The theme song is completely different, like most other Japanese localisations of the Crash Bandicoot series.
- When selecting a track in Arcade mode, there are stars indicating how difficult the track is. The western versions have no such feature.
- Due to the language change, the C, T and R items have been changed to C, B and R (Crash Bandicoot Racing).
- You need two boss keys to unlock the Skull Rock challenge as opposed to one in Adventure mode.
- There is a counter on the HUD that appears when you chain 3 or more turbos during a race, and displays your highest turbo chain at the end of a race. This can be activated in other versions via cheat code. A similar boost counter is used in Crash Nitro Kart.
- Isabella, the girl who appears in award ceremonies when Crash and Coco win a race, has brown eyes as opposed to light blue.
- The Scrapbook is also different in this version, featuring a few pieces of art not found in the other versions.
- The Boost has a counter in the JP version if you get it 3 consecutive times or higher. You have to unlock this in the other versions of the game.
The PAL version also has differences, like the bosses being more balanced and the names of each hub placed at the bottom of the screen during the Adventure Mode.
The story is simple; an alien called Nitrous Oxide wants to turn the Earth into a massive parking lot, with Crash and friends racing to stop him. When I say racing, I literally mean racing; Oxide wants to race the Earth’s racers and see if they can beat him.
The roster of racers you can play as includes all the iconic characters you love from the Crash series; Crash, Coco, Cortex, Tiny, and some extra characters like the Tibial Warrior Boss from Crash 1, Pin-Stripe from Crash 1, and even Fake Crash & N. Trophy from Crash 3 if you unlock them.
In the Adventure Mode, we have Aku Aku or Uka Uka instruct the player on what they have to do next and that’s it. Racing games don’t tend to have stories, so that matter that Crash Team Racing has a simple plot is quite nice.
The game is set up into three core styles; Adventure Mode, GP Races, and Multiplayer. The Adventure mode is like Diddy Kong Racing but without the hovercraft and plane. Crash and friends race around a few different hub maps and go inside warp points to trigger races.
Races can be one of a number of event types, like collecting purple gems in a simple battle map with a timer, completing a race, doing a time trial or racing against a ‘boss’ racer to unlock him. These are a lot of fun and give you different things to do in the race track.
The GP Races are a simple four-track event where you race against different racers across various locations inspired from the Crash trilogy. Wild canyons, Jungles, Literal Race tracks, temples and evil bases are just some examples of this.
Multiplayer is where you race with up to four buddies and have fun either racing or battling it out on Battle Maps.
Other types of races include the following: CTR Challenges, Relic Challenges and the Crystal Hunts.
CTR tokens require you to win first place and collect the letters CTR scattered throughout the track. These can unlock tracks. You also have the purple tokens which take you to stages where you have to collect all the crystals in a level within the given time limit. They are done in some of the multiplayer maps. Finally, getting all trophies in the area unlocks the boss and beating them gets a key, which opens pathway’s to another set of missions/levels to play through. .
Then there are the relic challenges that are similar to Crash 3’s, with time boxes all over the place and completion of the events rewards you with a relic. You need to do this for unlocking stages and racing Oxide a second time. Then you have the colored gems, which you unlock by getting four of one color for each CTR token. It unlocks a pad in Oxides area where you can race the bosses. Each one you complete will make the boss racer, into an playable character. Bosses can also be replayed by driving into their garage.
The time trial mode is not the same as the relic mode, it’s a standard racing option in the main menu but I bring it up because if you get good times for a few tracks, eventually N.Tropy will show up in transparent ghost form and race you. Which if you win, he is unlocked as a playable racer.
Gameplay in CTR is where the game shines, as it feels so rewarding to play. It controls like most kart racers; a face button to move forward, a button for items and one of the shoulder buttons for drifting. But CTR takes a mechanic from Mario Kart, the hop, and really makes it shine.
Tracks have various portions where if you jump high enough, you get a turbo boost when you land on the ground and that makes you go quite fast. The power drifting is also very different from Mario Kart, where instead of drifting until you get a colored spark to tell you ‘Let go to move fast’ you rather use one trigger to drift and the opposite trigger when the drift bar is green. You can do this up to three times and it makes drifting so rewarding in CTR.
Jumping from heights also gives you a speed boost, and there are paths that you can use to get extra air. Power-sliding requires you to power drift, while also checking your exhaust meter. If you hit it while red you can get a boost that can be used up to 3 times. If you already got a boost, this makes it faster.
Some examples of the items include TNT crates you set behind you which when you bump into them, they bounce on your head, you have to jump multiple times to get them off before you explode. When you get 10 wampa fruit, it powers up your items. One example is the TNT Create; it becomes a Nitro crate which just explodes outright, A missile will become 3 Missiles, Aku/UKA mask provides invincibility, and a speed boost. If you get in last place, you get a warp orb whom aims for first place, although sometimes picks off others.
Other items include the Aku Aku or Uka Uka masks being the Star power-up aka making you invincible for a short while + move faster. The balance of the items is fair and never felt cheap to me even on the highest difficulties.
The tracks themselves are designed greatly, with lots of extra paths and some great places to drift around. Cortex’s Castle and the Sewer level are fantastic examples of this, where your power drifts can be so rewarding to nail with tight curves. Love the tracks in CTR and they are very fun to drive through.
Presentation is great, with the frame rate being consistent with multiple players on the screen and explosions being all over the place. The game also has a bright art style and the iconic Crash sound returns making each track memorable to listen to. Animations on the character took a bit of a hit but it was understandable considering that wasn’t the focus this time out; the levels and karts were.
Some themes we really enjoyed include the following.
Crash Team Racing is a great kart racer that does a lot right, with great gameplay, fun tracks to race through and plenty to do alone or with friends. Personally, it is a favorite of mine and one of the better kart racers I ever played.
Naughty Dog might be gone from Crash, but the series continued by switching hands, moving four main developers for the next few years; Eurocom, Travelers Tales, Vicarious Visions and Radical Entertainment.
The Crash Retrospective is also on NeoGaf.