Saturday, March 21, 2015

PlayStation Forgotten Favorites: Crash Team Racing

Console: Sony PlayStation
Genre(s): Racing
Players: 1 - 4
Developer: Naughty Dog
Published: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: 1999

Since the release of Crash Bandicoot in the mid 90's, this lovable, genetically enhanced marsupial with that unforgettable creepy smile on his face, instantly became a household name among gamers everywhere. The Crash Bandicoot platformers were incredibly popular and rightfully so. They are amazing games. Also during this golden era of Crash, Naughty Dog decided to do a complete 180ยบ and develop this little gem. And that's exactly what it is, a true gem, and not “Just another Mario Kart clone”. So, grab your helmet, a couple missiles, buckle up and hold on, it's gonna be a wild ride.


The adventure begins when Nitrous Oxide (the fastest kart racer in the galaxy) challenges Crash and his motley crew of kart racers to a race to save the planet. If they lose, however, Nitrous Oxide will then turn their precious planet into a 'concrete parking lot' and make all them his personal slaves. Pretty harsh terms. Ok, so the plot is a little wacky, but we are playing a Crash Bandicoot game here, it's what makes them great.


There are a decent number of gameplay modes that you can enjoy in this game. Adventure, Time Trial, Arcade, VS., and Battle mode. All of them play just as you would expect. Adventure mode is where the “story” takes place. Your character will be placed in a hub-like level select area where you will have to drive your go-kart around and find a race portal to start a race. As you win these races, you will be given trophies which will allow you to advance to the next race. When you finally earn enough trophies you will unlock the boss race and face off in a one on one battle. Upon defeating the boss, you will unlock another section of the map that contains a new set of tracks and a new boss to battle. 



Racing is not a walk in the park. In fact, the NPC characters do a pretty good job at making your life difficult. I cannot count how many times I've had a weapon crate in my sights and out of nowhere an NPC shoots in front of me and nabs it! Oh yeah, there are two different types of crates in this game, a weapons crate marked with a '?' and a blank crate that contains the mystical 'Wumpa Fruit'. The weapon crates contain everything from heat seeking missiles and bombs that you can hurl towards your opponent to beakers of noxious gas that you can place along the track waiting for some unsuspecting fool to run into it. The Wumpa Fruit crates are an important element in the game. The more you collect, the faster your kart will go. Also, if you collect 10 fruits, you will automatically get weapon upgrades upon running into a weapons crate. It's a neat element to the game and add a bit of strategy while racing.


A couple critical elements in this game are the power slide and jumping. Jumping? Yes, jumping. If you time hitting your jump button correctly before the end of a ramp, you will be greeted with a burst of speed upon landing. Use this tactic when you can. Power sliding is the other tactic that you will have to master. Using the jump button and turning into the corner while in the air will initiate the power slide. Keep an eye on your boost meter in the bottom right corner of the screen, when that fills up, hit the opposite shoulder button and you will be given a nice burst of speed. 


Track design is fantastic! There are 25 tracks in the game and they all offer their own style and them, but generally follow along with the theme of the level select zone in which they are located. You will race in everything from the sewers to floating tracks way up in the clouds. Very well done. 



The multiplayer modes are great! Both the Versus and Battle modes allow you to connect up to four players for an all out battle against your closest friends. Versus mode is just like a standard race while the battle mode is more of an arena type battle. Both modes are awesome.

The controls are pretty standard as far as kart racing games go. I will say, however, that the controls are very solid and very easy to pick up. The characters are very responsive to your inputs, which is great during an epic dog fight or preparing to over taking someone in the final corner of a race. Great job with the controls, Naughty Dog!

Music in this game is OK. I've read a lot of people complaining about it, but I just didn't get the same feel. To me, if the music causes you to want to mute the game, it's bad. This did not do that at all. It didn't standout by any means, but it was just kinda there in the background and almost goes unnoticed. I'm good with that. Not a deal breaker for me. The sound FX were pretty good, nothing crazy. Characters have their own catch phrases and weapons sound believable. Overall, good job!


Crash Team Racing is one of the better go-kart racing games you will find. Yes, it follows along with what all the other kart racing games have already done, but it does most of everything better. The level designs are awesome. The weapons are great. The characters are some of the best around. What more could you ask for? If you are looking for an incredibly fun game that you can just pick up and play, this is it. A must own for me. Go and get it!




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