Crash Tag Team Racing Review

Developer: Radical Publisher: VU Games
Release Date: October 21, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, PSP, and Xbox

Crash Bandicoot has been an iconic figure on the PlayStation since the mid-90’s. Now, with Vivendi Universal’s takeover of the franchise, his importance has greatly faded. Once a platforming pedigree for Sony, Crash has gone multi-platform in the 128-bit era. Who would have thought that both Crash and Sonic would appear on an arch-rival’s system? A Sony-exclusive in Crash and a Sega-exclusive in Sonic ended up on the Nintendo GameCube. Crash Tag Team Racing is yet another multi-console Crash appearing on a Nintendo console.

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Under the auspices of Vivendi, the Crash and Spyro licenses have been utterly under-utilized and depreciated of their value. With Crash Twinsanity, Vivendi finally got a Crash game right. Twinsanity turned the corner, restoring fun gameplay with a healthy mix of humor. Tag Team Racing is unfortunately a step backwards in many ways. The designers of the game mixed a very rudimentary platforming engine and combined it with racing. You may remember in Crash Nitro Kart driving around an open world. While this is much more open and doesn’t involve driving from race to race in karts, it does just have the most basic platforming elements between races.

Basically you will perform tasks for various characters in the platforming segments. Whether this means collecting something, retrieving an item, purchasing something, etc., these tasks move the game along and need to be completed to unlock karts and such. You will also need crystals to unlock these launch pads, which help you reach gems that unlock new worlds.

The platforming segments are mediocre at best. I give the development team props for the open-world environments, but there’s not a whole lot to do in them, and honestly, they aren’t very large. You have a basic spin attack that you will rarely use, some coin collecting, breaking of crates, etc. There just isn’t much to do besides the arbitrary collect-a-thons and basic platforming. You mope around from one race to the next, completing simple tasks.

Thankfully, the racing engine is solid in this game. I would go so far as to say this racing design is better than Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, though I’m not particularly fond of that game. Considering the quality of the last two Crash kart racing games, I am quite frankly more time wasn’t spent on the racing than just 15 tracks. Compare that to Mario Kart DS’ 32, which is a considerable amount for a handheld game, and you should wonder why more time was not spent on more courses.

Let’s now talk about the new and innovative driving system. Alright, so there’s nothing new with kart racing. Indeed, there is nothing new with weapons-based racing. And true, nothing about the courses is remarkably fresh. What is new, however, is the way that you will need to win races. The unique “clashing� feature allows players to combine their kart with an opponents’, something I’ve never seen in a racing game before. This enables the player to man a turret gun while the computer drives. If a computer clashes with you, you drive while the computer fires. You (or the computer) can “unclash� at any time. This new feature adds a whole new dimension of strategy to the game.

You may be wanting to know more about the game modes. The racing aspect introduces stunts, arena battles, as well as track-based races. The track-based stuff includes Race, Crashinator, Fast Lap, Rolling Thunder, and Run and Gun. Race is your traditional three-lap race. Crashinator has you crash into an x number of objects. Fast Lap has you race to beat a certain time. Rolling Thunder has you turret gun x opponents’ karts. Finally, Run and Gun has you turret gun target flying objects on the track.

The Crash Bandicoot name has lost significant respect and importance over the last several years. Tag Team will do little to prevent the franchise from further erosion. It is in itself a spinoff so to speak in that its primary focus is not story-driven platforming, but collecting things to unlock vehicles and racing. The racing is fun and intuitive, but the platforming is a letdown. If you like Crash Bandicoot, most especially these kart racing games, you should consider buying this. For everyone else, I suggest making this a weekend rental.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.7
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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