Crash Bandicoot has been enjoying a resurgence as of late and it seems like a new entry in the main series is inevitable. However, the spin-off series has also recently received some love in the form of Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. This game is mostly based on the first game but there are other Crash Bandicoot racing titles that may have been forgotten. So on the 20th anniversary of the first game CTR: Crash Team Racing, let's go through each entry in the Crash Racing subseries. The series is more solid than you think although there is that one weird game...but we'll get to it.
CTR: Crash Team Racing
The original entry in the series, CTR: Crash Team Racing for the original PlayStation was one of the first serious competitors in the kart racing genre. Originally seen as a clone of the Mario Kart series, CTR actually takes a lot of inspiration from Diddy Kong Racing. Both have an adventure/story mode with a hub world that you drive around in to start races. Both also have boss races in which the boss has some kind of advantage over the player. Both games also have challenges that have the player doing more than just races against other karts and time trials. The high skill level required, the inventive ways players could gain a boost of speed, and the multiple shortcuts per level helped make the game stand out and make it a high seller.
Crash Nitro Kart
Released on the PlayStation 2, original Xbox, and GameCube (as well as the Game Boy Advance, N-Gage, and mobile phones in truncated versions), this title was created after the creators of the series Naughty Dog were no longer shepherding the series. As such, developer Vicarious Visions took a more reserved approach to this entry. It's largely the same as CTR but the story, tracks, and the gameplay are not quite as good as the previous game.
One new feature in this game is the addition of two types of crates. The exclamation crate activates traps or slows down the other racers. The multiplier crate gives you three weapons instead of one. These are welcome changes but they are ultimately minor. The game is solid for what it is but it lacks creativity. It seems appropriate that the remake of CTR just added the best content from this game rather than do a full remake of it later on as its essentially a third-party expansion pack.
Crash Tag Team Racing
This is a strange entry in the series. Released for the PlayStation 2, original Xbox, GameCube, and PlayStation Portable, Crash Tag Team Racing is themed around amusement parks and the typical adventure mode has been replaced with a mission-based platformer. Also new is the idea of clashing, which is when you combine with another racer on the track and attack the other racers while the car you merged with drives. The humor and art style of this game is based on the recent mainline release Crash Twinsanity and that's actually a perfect combination because this game is weird. It's also very janky and not very good, but in some ways, it's worth finding and playing for yourself because above anything else, this game is weird.
There are mini-games like bowling and chicken collecting. Yes, you read that right. Also, there are these random signs around the park that if you interact with them, you get to see Crash get killed in horrifying (funny?) ways. You are meant to collect these. If Crash Nitro Kart was too much like the previous game, then this game shows that the developers clearly took this too close to heart. However, the big issue is, in case you haven't noticed, the racing is the least interesting thing here. As you may have guessed, it wasn't received well and it killed the racing side of things for Crash for awhile.
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D and Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2
This came out for iOS phones as well as the N-Gage, and Zeebo, if you remember what that was. Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D is a fairly standard entry to the series. It mostly copies the design of the first game and that's not a bad thing. You automatically accelerate and use the gyrometer in the phone to steer. Holding your finger on the screen while turning allows you to drift, and items are activated by tapping them on the screen. It's a bit unsubstantial but it works fine. The second game is mostly the same except they added the ability to steer with on-screen touch controls, more content including online play, and it was only released on iOS. I supposed developers Polarbit came to their senses.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
Finally, we have Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. Released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, this is a triumphant return for the sub-series. It remakes all of the first game as well as adds some content from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. Mostly characters and tracks rather than mechanics or art design or cartoon style snuff films. As a result, this game is stuffed with racers, tracks, and a new addition, car parts. You can now customize your car with different parts, decals, and paint jobs and it's a nice motivator to play the other modes, of which there are many, as well as online. Unfortunately, the means of which you obtain these have been compromised thanks to publisher Activision introducing microtransactions after the game's launch. Corporate greed aside, CTRNF is a fantastic game that brings nearly the entire series in line with the current day.