Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
The final Naughty Dog Crash title is a game called 'Crash Team Racing' and it is a kart race 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.
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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.
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Before we move on though, we have to talk about the JP version of the game, as so much changed. From the cutting room floor, here is every change that Crash Team Racing went through going to Japan.
- The Japanese intro has an announcer reading out the messages before the start of the game, and the music is completely different.
Main Menu For Japan:
- Ripper Roo Dialogue: He now speaks in an actual language now, rather than his crazed laughing, which also means he no longer needs subtitles.
Like with the Japanese versions of the previous two Crash games, a hidden video has been 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.
- 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.
Edson went into detail about the game and it covers stuff I glossed over, so thanks man for the information!
"Crash Team Racing was in development at the same time as Crash 3. This is a common misconception. This makes sense to how when Crash 3 was actually going to be finished first they considered making it a vehicle focused game.
One curious thing is Naughty Dog built on the prototype engine clearly, instead of you know fixing and upgrading it, because that whole 2 characters (let alone 3 or 4) moving the quality down wasn't really a problem with other games, like Speed Punks which came out not long after and was much more graphically superior with more going on screen. Still a good looking game.
Adding to your Japanese differences, CTR Japan has a boot counter if you boost 3 consecutive times or more, and it's a stat at the end of the race. Granted the other versions also have this but you have to unlock it. They added difficulty ratings to tracks as well.
Also this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFRPIHX6iNY
Japanese versions is also not called Crash Team Racing, it's called Crash Bandicoot Racing, which explains why the CTR tokens are called CBR.
The PAL version also has differences, like Penta and the bosses being more balanced, having the name of each hub you go to at the bottom of the screen, but they made the game a bit slower.
Actually the story is a bit more in depth, in fact, the bosses think the player you choose can't win, and is the reason why they race you. A like lines like Papu Papu saying he lost because he didn't have a "big breakfast" and Pinstripe, with tommy gun in hand saying "you ain'ts gotz no chances youse...."
Of course if you beat Oxide the first time he pulls a Cortex and says you may have beat him but you couldn't beat his time relics, in which after you collect them you race him again. But I like the fun little scenes with the characters, and the UKA UKA, AKU AKU hints.
Expanding on Adventure mode, the hubs let you choose which races you want at any time that are unlocked anyway, sometimes you need additional trophies to unlock other main levels, side and secret levels may have different requirements.
CTR tokens require you to win first place and collect the letters CTR scattered through out 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 time limit. All of which are done in some of the multiplayer maps. Getting all trophies in the area unlocks the boss, and beating them gets a key, which can be used to open paths.
Then there are the relic challenges, that are similar and work almost the same as Crash 3, with time boxes all over the place, which will give you a relic. Which is required to unlock stages and race Oxcide a second time.
Then you have the GEMS, which you unlock by getting four of one color of each CTR token. It unlocks a pad in Oxcides area where you can race the bosses. Each one you complete will make a boss a 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 goodtimes for a few tracks (mostly beating your own ghost), eventually N.Tropy will show up in transparent ghost form and race you. Which if you win he is not a playable character.
What we would expect??? The games weapons are quite different form other games, there are wumpa fruit throughout the tracks and in crates similar tot he bounce ones in the platforming games. When you have ten wumpa fruit your cart is powered up, this applies to Adventure mode as well, and when you hit 10, your cart is now faster, and you get super charged weapons.
Some examples, TNT crates you set behind you, which when you hot them, they bounce on your head, you have to jump multiple times to get them off before you explode, with 10 wumpa fruit, it becomes a Nitro crate which just explodes outright. A missile will become 3 Missiles, Aku/UKA mask provides invincibility, and a speed boost, lasting longer with ten wumpa fruit. The science beaks you can throw forward or back, and it spins your opponent out. with 10 wumpa fruit, it becomes a poison, which makes your cart shake for a bit slowing you down. When you are in last place, you get a warp orb whom aims for first place, although sometimes picks off others. with 10, it hits everyone in front of you. The clock makes everyone shake in slowmo for a bit, longer with 10. You can even get a turbo power up, which I see people often write off as useless, but you can use it to run over someone and crush them, which ends up helping you win the race. The boost isn't just a boost.
Each character (in sets) has their own "lady" and music for the victory theme, and everyone has their own first place and not first place poses. A nice touch.
Jumping from heigts gives you a speed boost, and there are paths that you can use to get extra air. Powersliding, which I'm baffled you didn't expand on since it's one of the severe changes: requires you to power drift, while also checking your exhaust meter, if you hit it while red you get a boost, up to 3 times, if you already got a boost from something else, this makes it faster. It adds flexibility to races, stages design and turns. Can also be used to plow through things that otherwise slow you down.
Finally a decent number of short cuts, some require thinking, like getting a boost jump in the sewer level, to using a projectile attacking at Tiger temple to unlock a door.
Battle mode has a ton of rules from time limits, to lives etc. You can choose which weapons are included, and there are quite a few tracks. MP mode is the ususal tracks with more people, other than CUPS, which are the multiplayer versions of the GEM races, where you race in a cup which contained 4 tracks each (however not all the tracks are in the cup, just 16.
Then there are the car themselves, SP mode gives you good stats for some characters, but basically, it's average, speed, turning, acceleration, or a mixture.
Then finally the tracks themselves, from bumpy stages , to stages with tight cornering and enemies popping out of nowhere, To using boosts to jump long distances, to anti-gravity space stations, to avoiding flaming balls of lava, tons of terrain changes that can help or hinder your vehicle."
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The story is simple; an alien called Nitrous Oxide wants to turn the Earth it 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 enough.
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 the fact this has a lose plot is nice.
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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 crafts to use. 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 under 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, well, multiplayer. You race with up to four buddies and have fun either racing or battling it out on Battle Maps.
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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.
Items are what you would expect, you have Aku Aku or Uka Uka masks being the Star power-up (making you invincible for a short while + move faster), items to chuck at your foes ahead of you, TNT and Nitro boxes to throw behind you and even Wampa Fruit that works like the coins in Super Mario Kart (getting 10 makes your top speed faster and makes whatever weapons you have get stronger). 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.
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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.
Main Theme - Sewer Speedway - Coco Park - Tiny Arena - Cortex Castle - Oxide Station -
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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.
Next for the Crash Retrospective, we will be taking a look at quite the bash, the CRASH BASH!