Crash Team Racing vs Crash Tag Team Racing
Naughty Dog launched a successful Kart Racer but how did it hold up compared to its sequels on better hardware?
Crash Team Racing is the best kart racing game ever created. Everything about the game just feels right. Whether it be the precise controls used to master the jumping, boosting and turning mechanics. Or the charming and diverse character set, all with their unique stats to cater to different play styles. Or the lush and vibrant environments that are brought to life with glorious music and impeccable sound effect. It’s just a solid adventure that all kart racing fans should experience. While I can understand why there are other games in the kart racing top spot, this is the one that hits all the right notes for me personally. Naughty Dog studios created a masterpiece, which is pretty neat knowing it was their only venture in the genre at the time.
CTR was followed by Crash Nitro Kart (CNK), but not under the guidance of Naughty Dog, as they were onto bigger and better things. CNK was a decent game. The new studios mostly understood what made the original so great and ran with it. It was nowhere near the same level of quality as CTR, but my brother and I played it a pretty decent amount and good some enjoyment out of it. With one decent game under their belt, they decided to develop another title, which I really wish they hadn’t done.
Crash Tag Team Racing (CTTR) comes along and ruins everything. I found this game recently knowing nothing about it, but I was rather excited about finding a new Crash game after all these years. I was so excited that I set the game aside and waited until my brother came over so we could experience it together. We played the other games quite extensively together, so it felt right to rejoice and bask in the glory of a new Crash racing game. Here is what happened:
Two excited brothers get the controllers plugged in and the disc in the PS2 and we press the power button. We waited for the standard credits to do their thing so that we could get to the main screen and start our adventure. Expecting something on par with the CTR intro screen (which is seriously super awesome), we got the main menu theme. Seriously, listen to this theme. Gone is the exciting tone that gets you pumped to play a racing game. You are left with a theme that sounds like failure ate too much depressing. I am glad that someone likes it, but I hate it so much. We couldn’t comprehend how horrible this song was. It felt like we were entering a demented circus rather than starting a racing game. But we persevered and started the two player mode anyways.
We chose our characters and got right into things thinking that it could only get better; and if anything I mentioned before this is a reflection of anything, you know it doesn’t. After completing one race we found a plethora of problems, and we could have found more if we felt like really focusing our attention on it.
Here are a few things:
1 – Once you got in first, you’re golden, no one is going to mess with you. Rubber-band kart racers can be annoying, so it’s nice when games distance themselves from this often cheap mechanic, but wow. I was hit by a barrage of weapons and remained virtually unfazed, which is a stark contrast to the implications of a single blue turtle shell in Mario Kart.
2 – The forest track we went on had another horrible song. I thought it was bad in the game, but focusing on it more when looking up this YouTube video made me hate it even more. I am glad people like it and that there are positive comments, but I can’t stand it. Aside from it not providing a tone appropriate for a kart racing game, it’s just a bad song. Even for ambient music I don’t think it functions well. It’s just obnoxious and boring. Soundtracks can function well with strange sounds and obnoxious noises, parts of the Rayman Origins soundtrack exemplify how it’s done correctly, but this has no melody and just sort of resembles components of what might be a song but fails to function as well.
3 – Cortez wouldn’t shut up. He just kept talking and talking and talking, repeating the same annoying phrases time and time again. We couldn’t understand why he kept commenting on stuff while I was coasting in the lead and not doing anything. The word obnoxious came to our minds again.
4 – The track was so boring and could be played so passively. I know an introductory track should ease players into the game, but this was ridiculous. If you play the first track in CTR and compare it to CTTR, you will notice a massive decline in quality in CTTR.
We then decided to turn our attention to the additional modes the game offers, in a naive attempt to find some shred of quality in this appalling dump-heap. We tried a mode where you get to do tricks for points. It was awful. We were in a forest level again (goody), which was a long rectangle with a couple hills and some ramps. Without hindrance, you drive towards your launching device of choice, go really quick, and flick the joystick in a direction. That’s it. After you complete a jump you get points. The amount of points you get is based on something. We couldn’t figure out what though. There would be times I would soar through the air and do nothing and get more points than my brother when he did big spins and barrel rolls.
After a round of that terrible mode, we moved onto the adventure mode. We engaged in the uninspired platforming for a while and then turned the game off. We knew we were done with this monstrosity. We couldn’t figure why people talked about this game with any positivity, nor did we think it was worth committing the time to do so. So now that I’ve torn a level and a tiny bit of gameplay apart, we’ll follow the tradition of this column and find something positive about this game that helps put it above CTR.
Normally with these articles I have eluded to what be more positive throughout, sometimes spoke fondly of both games, that sort of thing. As one can see, there is not a shred of positivity wherever CTTR is being talked about. I hate this game. It isn’t the worst game by any means. It certainly isn’t unplayable. I just don’t think it is any good. The interesting thing about this negativity, is not the negativity itself, but why it’s here.
A lot of the reasons we were probably so irate about this game is not solely due to its quality, but how it compares with its predecessors. If this game were called “Generic Kart Racer #2453”, we probably wouldn’t have cared so much. But it had a name to live up to. This was following Crash Team Racing. Crash Team Racing. The best of the best. And that’s when I realized there was something positive about this game: it helped me appreciate what I had. I have always loved CTR, there’s no doubt about that. But CTTR helped solidify why I loved CTR so much. Everything that was wrong with CTTR helped me remember what was so good about CTR. And while that isn’t necessarily something positive about CTTR, I do think it was an important lesson about ensuring you recognize your level of appreciation with a game.