Crash Tag Team Racing is a racing video game published by Sierra Entertainment internationally and Vivendi Universal Games in Japan and developed by Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation Portable. The Xbox version is not compatible with Xbox 360s. The game was released in North America on October 19, 2005, in Europe on November 4, 2005 and in Japan on December 1, 2005. The PlayStation 2 version was re-released in the three-disc "Crash Bandicoot Action Pack" compilation (alongside Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Twinsanity) in the United States on June 12, 2007 and in Europe on July 20, 2007.
Crash Tag Team Racing is the twelfth installment in the Crash Bandicoot series, as well as the third racing game, following Crash Nitro Kart, which was an indirect sequel to Crash Team Racing. It is the first Crash game to have a rating higher than E in North America or a 3+ in Europe, due to the game featuring "cartoon violence and crude humor". The game's story centers on the exploits of the protagonist, Crash Bandicoot, who must win the ownership of a dilapidated theme park by finding its missing Power Gems before his nemesis, Doctor Neo Cortex, can.
The player takes control of Crash Bandicoot, who must retrieve the Black Power Gem of Ebenezer Von Clutch, along with the missing Power Gems in each of the five themed areas of the park. The player will compete in races and minigames to earn Wumpa Coins, the park's currency, and Power Crystals, find the Power Gem needed to open up the five areas of the park, and ultimately unveil the mystery of the Power Gem thief's identity.
As the player explores the park, race gates can be entered to unlock new racetracks, battle arenas, stunt tracks, and driving minigames. Extra Wumpa Coins and Power Crystals can be earned by playing driving minigames, some of which involve driving for the best lap time, crashing into as many obstacles as possible, shooting at trackside objects, and shooting at moving cars. Characters with an icon over their heads can be talked to unlock cars, weapon upgrades, clothing, or to play minigames. The player can smash crates and collect Wumpa Coins in order to buy rewards such as new clothing; drinking Wumpa Whip gives the player a temporary coin multiplier that earns extra money from Wumpa Coins and crates. Collecting Power Crystals is required to unlock the Power Gem at the end of a themed area, which unlocks an additional area of the theme park. Mini-cartoons, called "Die-O-Ramas", can also be unlocked; these cutscenes display Crash being "killed" off in various (or getting hurt), and largely humorous ways. Unlocking all 34 Die-O-Ramas unlocks another costume for Crash. The Die-O-Ramas can be viewed at any time under the Extras section in the main menu.
The main hook of Crash Tag Team Racing is the "clashing" feature found during the racing sections of the game. The player can "clash" with another vehicle by pressing a certain button depending on the gaming platform. The player's vehicle will merge with a nearby opponent's vehicle, and the player will then take control of a powerful turret weapon to shoot at other vehicles. The turret can not only be used to shoot at enemy cars, but also to take out incoming attacks.
Six returning characters from previous Crash titles star in Crash Tag Team Racing, along with five original characters. The player character and protagonist of the game, Crash Bandicoot, is an evolved bandicoot who must win each of the races in Von Clutch's MotorWorld and win the deed to the park before Cortex can. Allies of Crash include Coco Bandicoot, his genius sister, and Crunch Bandicoot, his muscle-bound older brother. The antagonist of the series, Doctor Neo Cortex, is a mad scientist who attempts to win the deed to the park and use it for his own evil purposes. Other enemies include Doctor N. Gin, Cortex's psychotic and very effeminate right-hand man, and Nina Cortex, Neo's gothic niece.
Five original characters make their appearance in the game, two of which are playable characters. Ebenezer Von Clutch, a deranged German cyborg, is the owner of MotorWorld, and must retrieve his Black Power Gem before he automatically turns off. Aiding him and the Bandicoots is Pasadena O'Possum, a Texan racecar driver who seems to take a liking to Crash. Another notable figure is the mysterious Willie Wumpa Cheeks, the park's excessively jolly mascot and source of Wumpa Whip. Serving as the comic relief are the two chicken commentators Chick Gizzard Lips and Stew, who serve as Crash's tutors during the game.
Roaming around the park are numerous Park Drones, a group of miserable employees who will take a certain amount of money to give Crash what he needs. Also in the park is a diverse set of pedestrians, who seem just as disgruntled with the park as the Park Drones.
The game opens with a pair of chicken sports commentators named Chick Gizzard Lips and his hip co-worker Stew, announcing the farewell race of Von Clutch's MotorWorld. Long ago, Ebeneezer Von Clutch, the deranged German cyborg genius fabricated the ultimate auto-racing theme park. For years, the park's racetracks have wreaked terror on its participants in ways too gruesome to describe on regulated television. But now the park's Power Gems, which have kept the park active, have been stolen, giving Von Clutch only a few hours to get them back. In the process of finding more racers to help him, meanwhile, Crash Bandicoot, Coco Bandicoot and Crunch Bandicoot are escaping from Doctor Neo Cortex, Doctor N. Gin, and Nina Cortex through a road, they literally crash in, resulting in Von Clutch recruiting them for assistance. At first, Cortex is unwilling to help Von Clutch, but then it is explained that whoever finds and returns all the missing Power Gems will win the ownership of the park. Even Von Clutch's own beloved Black Power Gem, which is his life source, is gone. Without it, Von Clutch will die in a matter of hours. N. Gin informs Cortex that this strange theme park is fertile grounds for them to "plant their new seed of evil", with Cortex believing this would lead to the park becoming their new base of operations, meaning they have an unlimited supply of churros and eliminate the Bandicoots. From there, the gang is introduced to Pasadena O'Possum, a professional racer hired by Von Clutch to ensure his continued ownership of the park, and Willie Wumpa Cheeks, the "jolly park mascot" of Von Clutch's MotorWorld and the producer of "Wumpa Whip", the parks most popular beverage.
After Crash finds and returns all the missing Power Gems and officially wins himself the ownership of the park, a bandaged Cortex suspects some unsavoury person is upstaging his efforts to make the park his own. This is confirmed when Coco deduces that whoever stole the Power Gems in the first place had some connection to Wumpa Whip, due to, according to Pasadena, the presence of a trail of Wumpa Whip at the scene of every stolen Power Gem in the park. Crash is suspected of stealing the Gems due to his heavy consumption of the drink, but Willie Wumpa Cheeks admits that he stole the Power Gems and the Black Power Gem, though without any given motive as to why he stole them. Von Clutch is struck with disbelief. With the Black Power Gem in his possession, Willie flees to Astro Land, saying that they can "look for [him] in the sky". He prepares to blast off into outer space through Astro Land's largest rocket. Crash Bandicoot decides to stop Willie Wumpa Cheeks, retrieve the Black Power Gem, and save the weakened Ebeneezer Von Clutch. In Astro Land, Crash sees Willie entering the rocket, preparing for liftoff. But when Crash pulls a nearby lever, the launch is aborted. Crunch opens up the rocket door and grabs Willie by the nose. Just when they're about to interrogate Willie about the location of the Black Power Gem, somebody shoots him from afar, resulting in a liquefied Willie. The culprit is Doctor Neo Cortex, N. Gin, and Nina inside a battleship. Cortex is prepared to obliterate the Bandicoots for ruining his plans for using Von Clutch's amusement enterprise as the ideal strategic cover. After Cortex attempts to destroy the Bandicoots with a machine gun mounted on his ship, Crash tosses a chicken into the ship's main rotor, causing the ship to behave erratically and unpredictably. Cortex promises Crash they'll meet again as he flies off in his malfunctioning ship.
As the Bandicoots are handed the deed to the park, Coco decides that the deed should be returned to where it belongs: to Ebeneezer Von Clutch. But Pasadena informs them that that's an impossibility. Because the Black Power Gem was never recovered, it is apparent that Von Clutch will remain deactivated. As everyone mourns the loss of their dear friend — all except Crash, who is attempting to find and consume more Wumpa Whip from Willie's nose — Crash starts choking on something. He coughs up Von Clutch's Black Power Gem, which jettisons into the slot, reviving Von Clutch. He thanks Crash for all he's done, and gives free lifetime passes to Von Clutch's MotorWorld to all the Bandicoots. Unfortunately, Crash inadvertently ejects the Black Power Gem, thus deactivating Von Clutch, after giving Von Clutch a friendly slap on the back. Before anyone has a chance to react, Crash jumps into the orange car he was seen driving at the beginning and drives off, leaving Coco, Crunch and Pasadena behind.
Zeljko Duvnjak served as the conceptual artist for Crash Tag Team Racing. The game's script was written by Chris Mitchell, with Jordan Reichek serving as a creative consultant. The full-motion videos were created by Red Eye Studios, who had previously animated the cutscenes for Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Twinsanity. The environments of the game were built by Sarah Meagher and Vincent Chin, while the vehicles were built by Kevin Fink.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Marc Baril and Spiralmouth, with Michael Neilson providing additional music; Gabriel Mann of Spiralmouth doubled as the soundtrack's producer. A fifteen-track soundtrack was released on March 6, 2007, and is available in the iTunes Music Store. The sound design of the game was provided by Cory Hawthorne. The game's voice actors were cast and directed by Chris Borders at Technicolor Interactive Services. The leading voice cast consists of Jess Harnell as Crash Bandicoot, Debi Derryberry as Coco Bandicoot, Chris Williams as Crunch Bandicoot, Lex Lang as Doctor Neo Cortex, Nolan North as Doctor N. Gin and Amy Gross as Nina Cortex. The new characters Ebenezer Von Clutch, Pasadena O'Possum, Willie Wumpa Cheeks, Chick Gizzard Lips and Stew are voiced respectively by Danny Mann, Shanelle Workman, Roger L. Jackson, Quinton Flynn and Duane Shepard. The game's pedestrians and Park Drones are voiced by Harnell, Jackson, Bill Farmer, Chris Coppola, Charles Dennis, Susan Silo and Vanessa Marshall.
Crash Tag Team Racing received average reviews since its release. GameSpot concluded that "the racing isn't exactly the star of the show, but Crash Tag Team Racing's supplemental elements pull the whole thing together into a unique and most enjoyable experience"; on the subject of the PSP version, GameSpot added that the handheld version's loading times were "painful". Nintendo Power decided that "the game's not too much to look at, and most of the track designs are pretty uninspired", while Nintendo World Report condemned the game as "unworthy of its namesake", and expressed its wish that "the developer had taken its time to study what was great about the original game before starting work on the sequel — the lack of finesse present in CTTR really shows." Eurogamer was critical of Crash Tag Team Racing's difficulty, citing that "it's very easy to win races, even on the Hard difficulty setting, the platforming sections offer no real challenge and the fun to be had from blowing up opponents when you've clashed your kart wears thin after a while."