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Crash Team Racing – PlayStation

Crash Team Racing – PlayStation

ctr coverPlatform: Sony PlayStation

Developer: Naughty Dog

Publisher: Sony

Release Date (NA): September 30, 1999

Genre: Racing, Kart-Racing

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

How do you make a kart-racing game popular? By putting famous video game characters in it, of course! But is that the process the developers took when creating the game? Do you think they were sitting around with a kart-racing program thinking, “We’ve got this game, now how in the hell do we make people buy it? Oh I know! Put Crash Bandicoot in it!” Probably not. It’s more likely the result of the companies trying to cash in on a popular franchise. And in the late 1990’s, they were also trying to cash-in on a red-hot genre too. Mario Kart 64 changed the landscape of racing video games as major franchises like Sonic, Bomber Man, and South Park were among the many to emulate Nintendo’s concept. But if there was ever one hero, one mascot that could give Mario a run for its money, that mascot was Crash Bandicoot and his weapon was Crash Team Racing (CTR) for the PlayStation.

Released in 1999 amidst a flurry of Mario Kart 64 clones and wannabes, CTR refused to take no for an answer and turned heads with similar but unique concepts. Despite these accusations, one thing is for damn sure… CTR is one hell of a fun game and great for kids or adults. I was pleasantly surprised to find such depth in CTR and I can’t help but compare it to Mario Kart 64 which I would say is lacking in depth. CTR is more than just “pick a track and race.” Adventure Mode (the main story mode) is a fun and exciting way to play a racing game, adding some free-roaming elements in between races a la Diddy Kong Racing. But I wouldn’t say that this concept was entirely stolen from Diddy Kong Racing as the Crash Bandicoot platforming games feature world hubs between levels as well.

ctr 4

Story. Take that Mario Kart.

While Crash Bandicoot and his friends are getting ready to start a kart-racing tournament, an evil alien named Nitros Oxide flies down and challenges them. He claims that he will turn the entire world into a concrete slab and make everyone his slaves if he wins. But if he loses, he will depart the planet never to return. Crash and his pals really have no choice but to accept. But before Nitros Oxide will actually face off against Crash and his buddies, they must all prove their worth by collecting 20 CTR tokens, 18 time relics, and 16 trophies, defeating boss racers along the way. Can Earth’s racers handle the heat or are they in for a celestial beatdown?

ctr 1

The story in CTR is compelling, fun, and engaging, but more than that, it plays a prominent role in the game’s overall purpose giving motivation to the players. Instead of racing just to race, we now have a reason! But despite a decent story, the bottom line to any game is enjoyment and fun, and Crash Team Racing delivers it in spades. Adventure Mode is the creme de la creme as it offers up unique ways to play through the courses. There are four worlds to race in, each with four tracks. Upon winning four races in any world, you will then gain access to the boss garage at which time you will have to race one-on-one against the boss to advance to the next world. Each world has a main “hub” that your character can drive around on and access different tracks. Some tracks will not be available to you immediately as they require a certain number of trophies to unlock them. All of this is very similar to Diddy Kong Racing but with a unique Crash Bandicoot flare to it.

ctr 5

Graphics. Where you at kart racers?

Naughty Dog did an excellent job with the graphics and track design in this game. Each track is uniquely designed with numerous pitfalls, environmental hazards, sharp turns, booster pads, and much more. The level of detail in every aspect of the game’s environment is evident, but perhaps the best thing that stands out are the colors. The Crash Bandicoot series is renowned for its vibrant colors and attention to detail and CTR is no exception. While the graphics might be a bit dated, I am still blown away at the quality of work put forth by the development team. Another area of renown from the Crash Bandicoot series are the music and sound effects.

ctr 3

Soundtrack and Sound Effects. Can’t touch this, Diddy Kong Racing.

The soundtrack for CTR is outstanding as it stays entirely truthful to the previous three platforming games in the series. It is bouncy, upbeat, and loaded with bongos and other native Southwest Pacific island instruments that help make it entirely appropriate for the courses and overall feel of the game. If you are going to appreciate the music then you’ll have to appreciate the sound effects which are just as unique and incredible. Each racer has a series of one-liners they drop anytime they’re hit, passed, pass someone, win, lose, and so forth. Instead of constantly repeating the same one or two lines in any random order until you get annoyed, Naughty Dog provided a lot of variety in that aspect. There is a huge catalog of other sound effects used throughout the game giving it a richer feel. Excellent job!

ctr 2

Gameplay. Sorry Sonic Drift 2.

While the soundtrack and graphics are undoubtedly superb, the gameplay is where Crash Team Racing wins me over. There are 8 racers to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics. So, depending on which racer you have chosen, you will have varying degrees of controls. But regardless of which character you have chosen, you will instantly notice tight and responsive controls. It’s not all perfect though, and this may be the fault of the PlayStation controller’s design, but I find it awkward to drive with X and have to press Circle to use my weapons. It is a challenge to press Circle without letting go of X all while keeping my trigger finger, I mean index finger, on the R1 shoulder button. I can’t blame Naughty Dog entirely as they really didn’t have too many other options. And of course, as always, I was forced to adapt until I figured it out. But either way, it’s a bit awkward the way I have to hold the controller to make it work. And if that’s my only gripe about the gameplay, then they must have done something right.

ctr 8

Game Mode Variety. Suck on that Mario Kart 64.

Crash Team Racing offers a variety of game modes other than the main story Adventure Mode. These options include Time Trial, Arcade, Versus, and Battle. All of these modes are self explanatory, but I would like to note that I believe the battle mode to be on par or superior to Mario Kart 64‘s battle mode! Instead of only offering 4 battle arenas, CTR offers 7. And what’s better than a good round of battle matches with 3 of your best friends on a slow weekend night? Even at almost 30 years of age, I bet I could get my friends to actually take the time to play through some battle matches with me. It’s always good for hootin’, hollerin’, and bragging rights.

ctr 7

 

Conclusion

Crash Team Racing is one hell of an awesome kart racing game that came out at a tough time. Despite being arguably superior to Mario Kart 64, CTR was forced to play second-fiddle to the uber-popular Mario racer. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Mario Kart 64 is loaded with 8 very popular Nintendo characters while CTR is loaded with Crash Bandicoot and 7 other mostly unknown characters. But as far as gameplay, graphics, music, and multiplayer goes, CTR gives Mario Kart 64 a run for its money. Furthermore, CTR offers 4 save files if you and your siblings each want to progress through your own game without having to worry about someone messing up your game. Overall, Crash Team Racing is an excellent kart racing video game that deserved much more recognition than it ever received. It is definitely a worthy addition for any fan of the Mario Kart franchise.

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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One Comment

  1. I fucking love this game. Easily the second best kart racer I’ve played after Mario Kart 8.

     

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