Crash of the Titans is a beat-em-up game with platforming aspects in which the player controls Crash Bandicoot, whose main objective is to rescue his sister, Coco, and save his home, the Wumpa Island, from being destroyed by the main antagonist's gigantic robot. The player's first goal is to rescue the sentient mask Aku Aku, who gives the player basic instructions, shields Crash from enemy attacks, and transforms into a skateboard to help Crash traverse slippery terrain. From there, each level (known as an "episode") asks players to complete fights against large groups of enemies or simply progress through the episode.
Crash starts the game with four lives. The length of each of Crash's lives is tied to his health meter, which decreases whenever Crash is damaged from enemy attacks or falls down a bottomless pit. The player can replenish Crash's health meter by instructing Crash to eat Wumpa Fruit. Each time the health meter is fully depleted, Crash loses a life. However, the player can win an additional life for Crash by collecting 25,000 units of the magical substance Mojo or by collecting a rare type of Golden Wumpa Fruit. After the last life is lost, the player can continue playing by restarting the current episode.
Each episode contains a portal leading to a simple mini-game arena, where the player must accomplish a task in a set time. Generally the task involves collecting a specified quantity of Mojo, using an enemy animal's attacks to snipe targets, or simply defeating a select number of enemies. At the end of each episode, the player earns a rank of a bronze, silver, or gold voodoo doll; the rank can be improved by defeating a set number of minions, destroying three robotic toilets or inflicting a minimum number of consecutive hits in combat. All three tasks must be accomplished in an episode if a gold voodoo doll is to be obtained for that episode. Hidden voodoo dolls unlock concept art packages for each episode.
The Nintendo DS version of Crash of the Titans contains similar gameplay to that of previous Crash installments. The game takes place on four islands, each with two levels and a boss. When a boss is defeated, a new island is unlocked. Each island has its own "Pachinko board" where players can win "on-demand items"; items that can be used to restore health, provide temporary invincibility, and set off Nitro explosions among other things. Additional content can also be won at these Pachinko boards, such as gallery art, cheats and a large quantity of Mojo.
Whereas the previous games featured Crash spinning into or jumping on an enemy to attack, Crash of the Titans gives him more options for attack. Early in the game, Crash has a light-powered attack and a heavy-powered attack and can also block, dodge or break an enemy's block. When he defeats an enemy or destroys an object, a magical substance known as Mojo is released. When Crash collects enough Mojo, he will earn either an ability upgrade or a new move, such as the Norris Roundhouse or the Triple Dragon. His classic spin attack, named "Old Skool", is an unlockable move, along with an aerial variant that allows Crash to float over chasms.
While small minions require only a single combo attack for Crash to defeat, larger enemies, known as "Titans", require more effort to subdue. Each of the fifteen unique Titans in the game possess a star meter that indicates how close they are to being stunned. The meter rises when Crash starts attacking a Titan, and depletes when he stops. When it is full, the Titan is stunned and susceptible to "jacking", meaning Crash can mount the creature and control it. While controlled by the player, the Titan possesses a similar moveset to Crash, although some jacked Titans can shoot projectiles. Besides a greater health, the Titans controlled by Crash have a purple Titan Meter. When this meter is full, players can make the Titan unleash a special attack, which fully drains the meter in the process.
A Titan's durability depends on its size; larger Titans will take more effort to defeat than others and a few are immune to Crash's attacks. To defeat them, Crash has to jack a smaller Titan to fight them. On defeating the larger Titan, he can dismount the Titan he previously jacked and directly jack the larger Titan. The dismounted Titan will then be destroyed.
A player using a second controller can join the game at any time in the form of a white-furred version of Crash known as "Carbon Crash". The second player appears in the first player's backpack, and can usually enter or exit the pack. However, the second player has to stay in the backpack if the first player is in mid-air or climbing a wall. This method of play is useful for overpowering enemies and collecting Mojo faster. There are two modes of co-op play; in "Leapfrog Mode", the players swap control each time the front player jumps, swings, or slides, while in "Piggyback Mode", each player is equipped with their own backpack and can hide in the other player's backpack if the action becomes too intense, such as when jumping over a chasm.
The setting of Crash of the Titans features twenty levels. Each level is referred to as an "episode", and each has a distinctive subtitle that is usually a reference to popular culture (such as "The Blizzard of Claws"). Like the first Crash Bandicoot game, episodes must be played in order, although the player can replay any episode that has been completed. The game moves through five major themes taking place on Crash's homeland, the Wumpa Islands. The story starts in the jungle near Crash's residence and leads to an ancient temple. Later in the game, Crash travels through a wood-cutting and mining area and a land flowing with lava that features giant steel mosquitoes sucking minerals out of the ground. The next few episodes take place on an artillery-bombarded beach, where Crash infiltrates Doctor N. Gin's missile factory, which resembles the Statue of Liberty. The penultimate area is a gigantic tree located in the middle of the island. This tree holds up an entire house owned by Uka Uka, one of the major antagonists of the series. The final moments of the game take place in the antagonist's Liberace-style lair, and finally inside the Doominator.
Nine characters from previous Crash Bandicoot titles star in the home console version of Crash of the Titans, all of them given a new modern "punk" style that is distinct from other and Japanese video game characters. The protagonist of the game, Crash Bandicoot, is a bandicoot who must defeat the main antagonist Doctor Neo Cortex and use the Titans against each other while collecting Mojo to upgrade his fighting techniques. Aiding Crash is Aku Aku, an ancient wooden mask who acts as a shield, a skateboard, and a weapon. He can also help Crash jack Titans. Crash's other two allies are his genius sister Coco Bandicoot and his muscular older brother, Crunch Bandicoot, who is absent in the Nintendo DS version.
Doctor Neo Cortex is a mad scientist who captures Coco and Aku Aku and wants to use stolen Mojo to create an army of mutants. Uka Uka, who is also absent in the Nintendo DS version, is behind Cortex's plot for world domination; after tiring of Cortex's incompetence, Uka replaces him with his cyborg niece, Nina Cortex. Aiding the Cortexes are Doctor N. Gin, who is Cortex's hysterical right-hand man, and Tiny Tiger. Dingodile, another minion of Cortex, exclusively appears in the DS and Game Boy Advance versions of Crash of the Titans as a boss character. Aiding the villains are a number of small fodder enemies that attempt to hinder Crash in his journey. Each fodder is affiliated with a certain villain in the game. The first fodders encountered are Neo Cortex's Ratnicians, which appear as bipedal, chihuahua-like animals dressed as laboratory researchers. These characters appear in the first four episodes of the game, and are replaced by other enemies as the game progresses. The later enemies include Tiny Tiger's Southern-accented Koo-alas, Doctor N. Gin's monkey wrench-wielding Doom Monkeys, Uka Uka's spear-chucking Voodoo Bunnies, and Nina Cortex's Brat Girls. Radical Entertainment sought to give these minor characters personalities by giving them a large number of distinctive quotations.
In the beginning of the game, Crash Bandicoot aids Coco with a butter-recycling device. Doctor Neo Cortex arrives, captures Aku Aku and Coco and encases Crunch in ice. Crash throws Coco's machine at Cortex's airship, severing the chain holding Aku Aku's cage, which causes the cage to fall into the nearby forest. After Crash rescues Aku Aku, they discover that Cortex and Uka Uka are stealing Mojo from a nearby temple and decide to stop them. On reaching the temple, Cortex reveals his plot to use the stolen Mojo to create an army of loyal mutants, which will be used to build a robot known as the Doominator, that will crush the Wumpa Islands and take over the world. After failing to defeat Crash with his Yuktopus cyborg, Cortex boasts that Crash will never find his base and flies off, leaving Crash and Aku Aku to follow him.
At Cortex's base, Uka Uka derides Cortex for failing to destroy Crash and replaces Cortex with his niece, Nina Cortex, despite protests from Neo, N. Gin and Tiny Tiger. Nina has Coco brainwashed and makes her participate in the construction of the Doominator. Throughout the course of the game, Crash and Aku Aku interrogate Tiny Tiger, Doctor N. Gin and Uka Uka on the whereabouts of Coco. When they confront Nina Cortex inside the Doominator robot, Nina summons her Arachnina cyborg and fights Crash. Crash eventually destroys the robot, liberating Coco and disabling the Doominator. The Doominator collapses and barely misses the Bandicoot home (and Crunch), sparing much of Wumpa Island. Escaping from the collapsed Doominator, Cortex praises Nina for betraying him, and promises to be more evil in the near future. The Bandicoots decide that it is time for celebration, leading Crash to shout his first word in the series and the object of their celebration: pancakes.
The DS version of the game largely follows the story of the home console versions, but with minor alterations such as Nina Cortex having a greater role and the inclusion of Dingodile. Near the end of the game, Nina teams up with Crash to stop Doctor Cortex and his dancing "CortexBot". The Game Boy Advance version also includes Dingodile, some plot differences, such as the Arachnina (referred to by its old name, "Spiderbot") not being the last boss, and Cortex being reinstated after Nina's defeat in the N. Trapment Island.
Development on Crash of the Titans began after the completion of Crash Tag Team Racing. The graphics of the Wii version of the game was one of Radical Entertainment's main focuses in the game's development, with Radical stating that the Wii has "a lot of horsepower under the hood" and expressing their desire to make full use of it. They also considered implementing a feature to connect the Wii to DS during gameplay, but stopped due to technical issues and time. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 version got a few extra months of development time to improve its graphics before setting a final release date.
While the game was being developed, the title's main character, Crash Bandicoot, became the new mascot of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "School and Youth" programs in an effort to promote the battle against blood cancer. In a bid to further promote the game, a Hummer (with a Wii inside) was painted with imagery from the game and displayed at the Annual Balloon Fiesta in Bristol, United Kingdom. A "Monster Edition" of the game was released exclusively in Europe on October 12, 2007 for the PlayStation 2. This special edition of the game features "Making-of" videos, water-on tattoos, game hints, a cheat code list, and the game's E3 and theatrical trailers in multiple languages. Due to its "mild cartoon violence and language", the game received a PG rating from the BBFC.
Unlike Crash Tag Team Racing, Radical did not hire the composer of the music in the previous Crash games, the a cappella band Spiralmouth whose members Rebecca Kneubuhl and Gabriel Mann left to compose musical pieces to The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night and The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon from Crash's companion franchise Spyro the Dragon, to write the music for Crash of the Titans. Instead, they assigned the job to their in-house composer Marc Baril, who took Spiralmouth's work on the previous games as references for Crash of the Titans. Radical Entertainment has expressed its pride with some of the music featured in the game, such as Doctor N. Gin's polka theme. A 32-track soundtrack was made available on the iTunes Music Store on December 18, 2007. The music in the Nintendo DS version of the game was created by Nathaniel Papadakis.
To avoid repetitive audio, Crash of the Titans features more than 7,000 lines of dialogue, many of which contain references to popular culture, such as the film Brokeback Mountain. To achieve a natural feel for their dialogue, the voice actors performed all their lines three times. Many of the voice actors from Crash Tag Team Racing reprised their roles, including Jess Harnell as Crash Bandicoot and Lex Lang as Doctor Neo Cortex. Characters who were regulars in the series but did not appear in Crash Tag Team Racing were given new voice actors for Crash of the Titans. These replacements include Greg Eagles as Aku Aku, Chris Williams as Tiny Tiger, and John DiMaggio as Uka Uka. The DS version features full voice acting for cutscenes and in-game elements by some of the same voice actors from the home console version of the game, though some of the voice actors were substituted, such as Debi Derryberry in the role of Coco Bandicoot, and Nolan North in the role of N. Gin. Dingodile, who appears only in the DS and GBA versions, is voiced by Nolan North.
To make enemies memorable on their own; Radical Entertainment scripted conversations between the enemy characters that can be overheard as the player approaches. Several voice actors provide the audio for the small enemies, including Tom Kenny from Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. Adding to the game's numerous pop-culture references, the voices and mannerisms of some of the characters are based upon those of real people, including Mike Tyson, Mr. T, Jerry Lewis, and Peter Lorre.
Crash of the Titans received mixed reviews upon its release. GameSpot credited it as a "fairly sturdy, combat-heavy platformer with a good hook", but concluded that it lacked the distinctive style of past Crash Bandicoot games. The DS version of the game was reviewed positively, with IGN naming it "one of the better handheld Crash games to hit the market". Nintendo World Report gave the DS version a higher score than the home console version by half a point, but dismissed it as "a short game that has very little gameplay variety". GameSpot proclaimed that "there's plenty to do, and controlling the enemy is a neat twist", but criticized the game's small length of only six to eight hours.
The more negative reviews include those from Nintendo Power, who criticized the game for its "fixed and unforgiving" camera, which they felt made the platforming experience "frustrating". GameSpy also criticized the game for its camera along with its unsteady framerate, but praised the game's attractive graphics and offline co-op mode. IGN described the game as "a good idea wrapped in a mediocre game", dismissing the game's music as "forgettable", and hoping that the jacking concept would be refined for a possible sequel. Eurogamer was also critical of Crash of the Titans, deriding its graphics as "designed primarily with the PS2 and Wii in mind, with a fairly lazy high-def makeover late in development". The PSP version received less praise than its console counterparts, with IGN remarking that it "loses out to the consoles in a number of areas; especially when it comes to multiplayer".
Crash of the Titans was a nominee in the Writers Guild of America's inaugural video game writing awards, competing against Dead Head Fred, The Simpsons Game, The Witcher and World in Conflict; Dead Head Fred won the award. Crash of the Titans was also selected as a nominee in the "Best Sound Design" and "Best Character" categories of the Second Annual Elan Awards. It lost both awards to Skate and Mass Effect's Commander Shepard respectively.
In Australia, Crash of the Titans was the second highest-selling game in its first week below Halo 3. The game was not as successful in the United Kingdom, where the PS2 version of the game debuted at #32 in the sales charts. The game made £3.35 million in the UK, by the end of 2007. Despite the poor sales in the UK, the game was re-released on Platinum for the PlayStation and for the Xbox 360 Classics and PlayStation 3 Classic.