I spent a lot of time on Crash Team Racing for this review, making certain to appreciate every little nuance and detail. I went ahead and collected all the CTR tokens, a game mode addition that features you re-playing levels, this time with the added goal of collecting the letters “C”, “T”, and “R,” which are spread through the track. It’s a simple novelty, but it adds a certain extra-layer to the tracks, helping you appreciate the secrets that developer Naughty Dog incorporated. I collected all of the Relics, which are collected through Time Travels, which are spiced up with boxes spread over the area, which allow you to slow-down the clock and improve your time. Not only did I finish the initial campaign, but I collected the six jewels, which are collected through winning different cups with a point system straight out of Mario Kart. I feel comfortable I did everything I needed to do with Crash Team Racing, and yet, I didn’t do it for any reason other than my own enjoyment. This is PlayStation, where there are no trophies or achievements, no real bragging rights, but I did it because I wanted to maximize my time with it.
I think that what benefits Crash Team Racing a lot is the way it embeds game-play elements from the original series and is that it fully engrosses and embodies itself as a racing game. The tracks have elements heavily inspired from the level-design in previous installments, with aesthetic appealing scenery that allows it to feel realized. It doesn’t feel like a marketing cash-in for the series as much as it does a very seamless and natural detour. It helps matters that racing is a lot of fun, with vehicles that are easy to handle with race-tracks packed with power-ups and weaponry that can afford you a chance to get out of even the tightest of binds. Every race is fast, carefree bliss, benefited significantly by the subject-matter, characters, and world it’s built around. If, by some chance, you were brought up on Mario, then, it’s reasonable to think that Mario Kart was benefited considerably by its cast of characters and the familiarity of its world. This is something that impacts my opinion on Crash Team Racing, but as objectively as I can be about something as absolutely subjective as this, I think Crash Team Racing amounts to what I always yearn these types of experiences to be.
As far as criticisms are concerned, I do admittedly have a few. I think the difficulty of Crash Team Racing leaves a lot to be desired. Specifically, Crash Team Racing’s overt simplification oftentimes benefits it in-terms of having a certain plug-and-play quality to it, I would have liked for them to include the option for heightened difficulty on levels. After you finish the initial campaign of Crash Team Racing, as I’ve said, it allows you the chance to participate in Cup-like engagements and it heightens the difficulty for them. Although the difficulty is still medium, at best, it is a lot closer to what I would’ve liked to have seen the whole way through.
Other-wise, the best way to summarize my thoughts on Crash Team Racing is to conclude that it is the best-case scenario of a spin-off experience like this. Although, I will lastly go on record and rate it behind Crash 3, they both receive the Very Good rating of 8 out of 10 in my eyes. It captures what was fun and enjoyable about the original source, while, at the same time, succeeding on its own merit as a kart-racing experience.