Developer(s) – Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Director – Jason Rubin
Producer – Grady Hunt
Developed to compete with the various different quirky racing games that had been released prior, such as Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing and F-Zero X, Crash Team Racing was Naughty Dog’s attempt at taking one of Sony’s then-flagship franchises into a familiar, yet popular direction. Though it could be easily seen as a mere means to increase sales of the PlayStation, the fact of the matter is that this game remains one of the best games released towards the console’s later shelf life.
Graphics – 8/10
Although the visuals are about the same level of quality as the third Crash Bandicoot game from a technical standpoint, the game itself is just as conceptually diverse as any entry in the series. Each course is based on certain levels of the original trilogy; much like most other kart racing spin-offs contain levels reminiscent of their respective mythology. Unlike in Diddy Kong Racing, each boss doesn’t have their own special stage and their individual races simply take place in a previous track within their respective tournaments, which makes the game less diverse in comparison, but it doesn’t cause too much of a problem.
Gameplay – 9/10
The game more or less has the same amount of substance as the likes of Diddy Kong Racing; arguably more so. Aside from there being an adventure mode, there is of course multiplayer, time trial mode and a plethora of unlockables including new tracks, new characters and even in-race perks. What separates it from its Nintendo counterparts, however, is its level of challenge, as most of the boss races in particular can be quite difficult to win; namely Pinstripe’s race.
Controls – 10/10
Thankfully, there are no issues with the game’s control scheme. I say thankfully because there were other development companies and publishers who tried to create racing games with varying degrees of success. The most prominent example of which is the game Sonic R for the Sega Saturn, which had unbearable controls; most probably since it involved on-foot racing as opposed to kart racing, but worked on a very similar control scheme to that of kart racing games. But the control scheme in this game is as fluent as any other excellent kart racing game.
Originality – 6/10
The game more or less plays out like a carbon copy of Diddy Kong racing, since it features an open world and an adventure mode. However, I believe it shouldn’t lose out on too many points because of this, since not only did it make for one of the most immersing racing experiences on the PlayStation, but it’s only one of the two prominent open world racing games that in truth have been developed ever since; at least that I’m aware of. I believe the genre could do with making a resurgence, but until that happens, this game will be about as unique as it could have possibly been then and could possibly be now.
Overall, despite deriving a heavy amount of influence from many games like it, Crash Team Racing remains a wonderful game to this day, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore a classic. It may not have been the first game of it’s kind, but its certainly one of the better ones.