Crash through the years, 1999
“Start your engines for another Naughty Dog production”
The final Naughty Dog production for Crash Bandicoot, Crash Team Racing was a good game for naughty dog to go out on, it had certain qualities to it that I found to be quite endearing. Now let me get this out there, I am not a huge fan of racing games in fact I’m far from it but a racing game involving my favourite Bandicoot I can make an exception. Mainly because a racing game that involves lovable characters from an already established franchise can be a lot of fun, in your standard racer such us Forza Horizon, Juiced and Gran Turismo you are simply driving around the track for how ever many laps you are required to complete for the race, for me personally I consider that to be boring. however with CTR I get to use weaponry against my opponents, yes I may still be driving around a track but there is more to it than that, I can utilise weapons which for me brings a certain element of fun that most racing games unfortunately lack.
When a franchise is as established as Crash Bandicoot was after having had a trilogy of games by now I believe that we the players have more appreciation for the characters, we understand these characters, for me that is part of what makes the game so far. Look at MARIO Kart, that is one of the most successful racing games of all time, why is that? Because it’s MARIO! There is a huge amount of love for the Italian plumber, just like there was a huge amount of love for Crash Bandicoot. I feel more invested here, there is a story to CTR, where as Forza involves me simply driving through various races with no story to it. Only so many times I can do that before it becomes tedious.
Now that I’ve got my little rant about racing games as a genre out of the way I will talk about CTR. This was somewhat of a surprise back in 1999, after a successful trilogy I was surprised to see the franchise turn to the racing genre, I thought it was going to stick to its already accomplished 3D platformer style. I believe this was a good move by Naughty Dog though, they produced a game to be proud off for their final instalment of the franchise. The story was simple, as we have come to expect from Crash which I like, no need to ruin a good game by over complicating the story.
Let me start by saying that I liked how the hub area worked for this game, when you were in a particular area of the game you are able to drive around, rather than simply choosing the race track from a list you must drive around and find the warp pads to enter a race. In each area of the game we find a computer in which we can save our progress. I thought that this was quite well done, admittedly it could become a tad bit tedious I welcomed it instead of choosing everything from a list on the screen.
You get to choose who you want to be for the entirety of the game. That’s right as much as we all love the orange fur ball it was nice to be able to play through the game as whoever we wanted, including the arch nemesis of Crash, Dr Neo Cortex. Besides Crash and Cortex the other eligible characters are Coco, Pura, Polar, Dingodile, tiny and Dr N Gin. As with every racing game there both advantages and disadvantages to each and every character as is common with most racing games. While one character may have a higher top speed another character may have a higher acceleration stat. We also have several other characters that we may unlock for use in the other modes of the game, these characters included both the bosses of the game and other secret characters that we may have seen in the previous 3 instalments of the franchise
Let’s take a moment to consider the fact that we could drive a car as a tiger cub or a Polar bear! Now I know that it was a nice touch that we could play as the typical villain from the Crash series, and as I have stated before I do love Tiny, I even did a play through as him but I jumped at the opportunity to play as Polar, admittedly he wasn’t as good as other characters but It added a slight challenge, a challenge that was needed. CTR was unfortuanetly a very easy game to me, I won near enough every single race first time, that would be the biggest disappointment about this game for me.
The tracks for this game were rather endearing, the different environments were fun, I didn’t have the chance to get bored of my surroundings, something that tends to happen on the rare occasion I play a racing game, the fact that some of the tracks were named after the characters of the game was a good addition, in some ways that gave a unique charm to some of the tracks. Being able to utilise weapons was a nice touch, blowing characters up with potions, TNT and bombs was enjoyable, it helped to prevent the game from becoming stale.
As with all Crash games we had several bosses to deal with, however instead of it being a boss fight it was a boss race. After not seeing the crazy blue kangaroo in warped I was overjoyed to see the psychotic Ripper Roo as the first boss of the game. We saw the returns of Papu Papu and Pinstripe who we hadn’t seen since the first game 3 years prior, then there was Komodo joe one of the Komodo brothers from Cortex strikes back and finally we had to race against oxide.
Speaking of Oxide I have to say that I didn’t find him to be on the same level as Cortex, his villainous prowess was somewhat pityfull, he also lacked the loveable charm that Cortex possesses, in fact I found the personality of Oxide to be rather bland, as I have mentioned in a previous post Dr Neo Cortex is on my list of best ever villains in a video game so oxide did have a lot to live up to in my eyes, shame he didn’t.
Besides the story there was a battle mode that you could play, be it with friends or on your own. The idea was to kill as many of your enemies as possible, leaving the player with the most kills as the winner. The maps for the battle mode were pretty fun, if you wanted to win then your driving needed to be on point otherwise you were going to crash left right and centre.
Usually I would dedicate a bit of time to Crash since I am discussing his games but i find that to be a bit more tricky when discussing CTR purely because we are not required to play as him at all if we so wish, whereas in the trilogy we were always controlling Crash except for a few levels in warped where we could take control of Coco. The one solid thing I will say about Crash is that he is well rounded and is even on all 3 of his driving skills.
While I do enjoy this game I wouldn’t say it was my favourite Crash Bandicoot racing game. That honour is reserved for tag team racing which I will discuss at a later date when we finally hit the year of 2005.
Next up the year is 2001, Cortex is back to his old tricks, not only does he enlist the help of a bunch of elemental masks he also has the help of another Bandicoot! Oh and the Wrath of Cortex is the first mainstream Crash game not to be developed by Naughty dog.