[CTR TITLE SCREEN]



[COCO PARK]
Console: PSone

Company: Sony Computer Entertainment  

Release Date: October 1999

Genre: Racing

Number of Players: 1-4

Save Feature? Yes



When my good friend Matt Summers brought over Crash Team Racing for the Playstation, I thought to myself, "It's just another racing game." HA!! I could not have been more mistaken. In terms of overall gameplay, CTR is a big hit! It is one of the best multiplayer games that I have come across as well; get three of your friends together and start a four-player battle to see what I mean. Although Super Mario Kart for the Super NES is my sentimental favorite, CTR is just as good and might possibly be better!

Overview: As far as racing games go, there is nothing really new to report in Crash Team Racing. If you have played other classics such as F-Zero, Super Mario Kart, or Looney Tunes Racing, you have a good idea of what to expect. However, there is just something special about this game that makes it stick out from other racing games.

For one thing, there are many different challenges/options to choose from. The huge one-player Adventure game is large enough to qualify as a video game in itself! There are so many races to complete and there is enough variety to keep even the most diehard racing fan happy. Even after you beat the game, you can attempt to get all of the CTR tokens as well as the gold and platinum relics. The Arcade mode is a blast as well! There are four cups to choose from (similar to Super Mario Kart) and a two-player option is available! This is a huge advantage over Looney Tunes Racing for the Playstation because no two-player option is available in LTR. Lastly, if you are lucky enough to round up three or more people, you can compete in the Battle Arena against each other! Up to four players can play; if you want to have a great time, buy the multitap and just battle it out!

Another enjoyable facet of CTR are the tracks themselves. There are your typical speedways, caverns, snow levels, tracks up in the sky; even a track in a huge castle! The strategy varies on each track and certain characters tend to perform better on specific tracks. There are also many secret paths in CTR. These shortcuts can be really tough to find but they can really shave off your time. There are probably shortcuts that I have no idea of as well!

Lastly, I just want to mention that CTR also has a lot of hidden characters! Many of these characters because available once you accomplish something in either the Adventure or Time Trial games. I have been able to unlock five of these characters (gotta love Fake Crash and Ripper Roo) but I have heard that there are several more! This aspect of CTR makes the game a lot of fun and gives the game a lot of replay value!

Graphics: Crash Team Racing was the first Crash Bandicoot game that I played for the Playstation so I don't know how the graphics compare to previous Crash Bandicoot incarnations. However, I was very pleased with what I saw throughout the game. I can describe the graphics in two words: cartoonish and colorful. You get the feeling from the graphics that Crash Team Racing is not as serious as a Gran Turismo II. The atmosphere is more relaxed and the scenary is just really nice. I do want to note that I feel that the graphics are not overtly cartoonish. Some of the scenary actually looks quite real and makes a lasting impression.

The animation is what makes the graphics really sparkle. There is so much personality in this game due to the countless animations exhibited by the main characters. This game is so funny! It is hilarious to see someone hit a nitro or get drilled by a turbo boost and get flattened. Even when you get hit, it can be hard not to laugh. I was also impressed with some of the background graphics (notably in the fiery cavern level). The animated graphics really bring the world of Crash Bandicoot to life and make the game seem more "interactive."

Music: Believe it or not, the music throughout Crash Team Racing is probably the most forgettable aspect of the game. None of the music really stuck with me. However, it is still nicely done and does not even come close to being annoying. It creates just enough atmosphere without becoming too involved. It does the job that it is supposed to do. If I was to compare the music in CTR to another game, it would probably be Spyro the Dragon. Nothing is really spectacular but it's not bad either; It is just kind of "there."

Ironically, the most memorable aspect of CTR might be within this same category! The countless voices of the characters are simply hilarious! A character might say something during a high jump, after passing someone, or after getting shalacked by another kart. They really give this game a neat feel (akin to the voice acting in Looney Tunes Racing) and add a lot of humor! Who can forget Tiny Tiger's "I'll squish you guys!" or Ripper Roo's insane laughter? It may not sound like much, but the voices really do a nice job of creating the game's whimsical atmosphere. The voices are also done very well unlike in Mega Man 8. I was very impressed.

Play Control: The play control is what really makes the gameplay click. Compared with most racing games, the play control in CTR is nice and tight. It is actually funny because, after playing CTR for a while, I decided to fire up Super Mario Kart for a some "retro action." However, the controls in SMK seemed so loose after playing CTR! It took me a good three races to get back into the SMK groove! That is not to bash SMK (which remains one of my personal favorites btw); it just goes to show how tight the controls are in CTR.

Like with any good racing game, there is a wide assortment of moves in CTR that require the skillful use of certain buttons. Mastery of the L1/R1 buttons is crucial to success on the many jumps throughout the game. Basically, when you press and hold the L1/R1 button on a hill or ramp, you will fly through the air and get a turbo boost when you land. Simply put, the longer you remain in the air, the longer the turbo boost. The trick is to learn when you should jump and where you should land. The old cliche "Timing is everything!" holds true here. The more challenging special move would have to be the power slide feature. Fans of Super Mario Kart will feel right at home with this move. It is hard to explain in writing but it involves jumping and making a sharp turn in a particular direction simultaneously all while pressing the L1 button at certain intervals. If you are able to get three of these mini-boosts in a row, you will be able to receive a turbo boost. Confused yet? Don't worry; it makes much more sense when you are actually playing the game.

Like in Super Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing has a multitude of characters with each character having different strengths/weaknesses. The bandicoots (Crash and Coco) are the best in terms of all-around performance. Polar and Pura corner the best but have a low top speed. On the flipside, Tiny Tiger and Dingodile have the highest top speed but are pretty loose on the turns. The secret characters that I have been able to round up so far seem to fit roughly into one of these three categories.

Challenge: Due to the fact that Crash Team Racing has three difficulty levels and several options, there should be something for everyone. Kids and adults alike should be able to find the game challenging yet an enjoyable gaming experience. Even though I have played this game a lot, winning is still no walk in the park. This is especially true when I fire up the game with three or more of my friends. The human factor makes this game so much more difficult (and fun).

The Adventure Mode is probably the most challenging game in CTR. It is not so much beating the game as it is finding everything and completing the perfect game. The various challenges are just different enough to challenge even the greatest CTR racers! Finishing first in a race is often not good enough to earn a prize. You might need to locate all of the "C" "T" and "R" letters in a level and still finish first! Talk about a challenge! Some of the timed races (where you have to capture all of the gems within an alloted time) are very taxing as well. However, I enjoyed the Adventure mode. If nothing else, I now know where many of the shortcuts are located! ;)

Storyline: When I began writing this review, I planned to label this category N/A because it was a racing game. That was when it hit me that, "Hey, wait a minute...this game actually does have a plot!" You would not think so but there really is a story behind all the madness.

It all began when a being by the name of Nitros Oxide happened to come across the planet Earth. Being the "fastest racer in the galaxy," Nitros Oxide could not help but see that Crash and company enjoyed racing each other. Since he is as fierce a competitor as any, Nitros Oxide has challenged the best racer from Earth to race him. If the challenger wins, Nitros Oxide will leave Earth ("your tiny little rock") alone. However, if he is able to win the race, he will turn the entire globe into a concrete parking lot and make all of the inhabitants of Earth his slaves! Talk about incentive to win!

You have to love those people at Naughty Dog (the creators of the game). Just when the story begins to look somewhat normal, they throw in something ridiculous. A concrete parking lot?! Oh well; it's original as well as innovative (pretty funny too; watch the intro movie to see what I mean). I can't complain about that. Nitros is one bad boy too. He may not seem to be the fastest, but man can he trash the road...literally!

Funfactor: Crash Team Racing is one of the most enjoyable games out there. If you are looking for a game that is fun in its purest form, CTR is your best bet. Just this past semester, I got together with several of my friends at college and we played CTR on the big screen TV in our dorm. It was the most fun that I have had playing a video game in years! Just do yourself a favor and get this game before it becomes a rare eBay item! Snag that "Crash Bandicoot set" if you get the chance. CTR alone is worth the $30 asking price and the other two games are exceptional as well! Just get it! Whatever you do, get this game before I send Tiny Tiger to make a house call. :)

Negatives: As I mentioned earlier, the music is on the average side. Not bad by any stretch but still nothing to write home about. Also, the items you receive almost seem to be too significant (cheap victories are not uncommon). You can be in first place for the entire race and lose at the last second just because someone got a mask. I guess that that's not really a negative because it makes races interesting and gives everyone a fighting chance. It is worth mentioning though.

[ADVENTURE MODE]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.3 Music: 3.9 Play Control: 4.8 Challenge: 4.7 Storyline: 3.7 Funfactor: 4.7 Overall Score: 26.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!

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Last Updated: October 23, 2009
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