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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Crash Team Racing.


Press Kit
The earliest images of the game. Crash is racing alone, but somehow he is able to lose to himself.
Official B-roll footage and the interviews they're edited with. The HUD and other racers are now present, but don't work properly.
E3 1999
The earliest publicly playable version, seen at E3 on May 13-15, 1999.
June Builds
Builds very similar to the demo versions, which take place in June.
July Builds
The game is now more finalized, and almost every track is complete, except for Oxide Station.
August Builds
The tracks are now complete, but the game's still lacking features.
September Builds
The final weeks of development.
Japanese Builds
These builds are very close to the final game.

Development Timeline

  • July 1998
    • Naughty Dog begins "Project X". It will be a high tech, free roaming, multiplayer PlayStation tour-de-force. It will not be a character based platform game... and Crash may not be the star. This is the first time two projects are concurrently in development at Naughty Dog.[1]
  • November 1998
    • Artists start work on "Project X".
  • December 1998
    • A small team work hard to finish the engine for "Project X".
  • January 1999
    • Development starts into high gear.
  • May 13th, 1999
    • Crash Team Racing is officially announced at E3 1999.
    • The E3 Demo was playable at the event.
  • June 1999
    • A handful of official screenshots are released by a number of news outlets. The game would not be officially unveiled to the public until E3, at which point the game was significantly more complete than these preview screens.
    • A few September issues of American publications showcase new screens of at least two preview builds around this month of development, closely resembling the demo builds.
    • June 3rd, 1999
      • The earliest demo was built around this time. It's quite a bit late than the E3 Demo.
  • July 1999
    • More screenshots of the game are released in Europe, featuring a mostly complete version of the game, besides Oxide Station still being unfinished. A trailer present on Euro Demo 51 seems to also be from around this point in development.
  • August 1999 - CTR goes alpha stage.
    • August 5th, 1999
    • August 14th, 1999
      • The August 14th, 1999 prototype is built.
      • This build is mostly previewed in several European publications, as it was the only preview version available from SCEE. Clips of this build are also used in the Behind The Scenes video.
  • September 1999 - CTR goes beta stage.
    • September 3rd, 1999
    • September 26th, 1999
      • Roughly the date of the game's initial completion, according to file modifications and EXE build dates.
  • October 6th, 1999
    • The build date of the NTSC-J Trial Version.
  • October 19th, 1999
    • The initial release in North America.
  • October 20th, 1999
    • The build date of the PAL version.
  • November 1999
    • The initial release in Europe.
  • November 11th, 1999
    • The build date of the NTSC-J version.
  • December 16th, 1999
    • The initial release in Japan. Naughty Dog officially says farewell to the bandicoot.

Development Insights

Since the game released, developers of the game have recalled other titbits about the game's development and initial conception.

“Naughty Dog wanted to do a racing game starting just after the beginning of Crash 2. After all, our two favorite genres are Action and Racing. But we had so many things that we wanted to do with the Crash engine, that we ended up making Crash 3 at the same time we were working on early R&D for the CTR engine. Crash 3 finalized the Crash action games for us. There was nothing more we felt we needed to do. CTR was the logical next step for us. Luckily, the engine was ready just about the same time that Crash 3 finished. The artists began January 6th of this year [1999]. [2]

After finishing Crash 3, the team parted ways with Universal and and soon begun work on a kart game that started out with a generic block-headed kart riders. The team took their game engine and presented to Sony who were keen on making the game a Crash title. The two companies reached an impasse with Naughty Dog only willing to make a Crash game if they dealt with Universal and obtained the rights. Naughty Dog did not want to deal with Universal Interactive any more, so they told Sony to sort something out with Universal. Sony then went to Universal and told them they wanted to license out the IP for two more games; one with Naughty Dog and one with Eurocom Interactive.

CTR was not part of our three project deal with Universal. It started as a generic racing game, funded internally, that we eventually teamed with Sony to publish. It was up to Sony to get the rights from Universal, though it was never a sure thing that it would happen.[3]

In the end, Sony managed to secure the rights with Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin saying that was a good move that benefited everyone. Universal agreed and told Sony they had 9 months to get CTR complete. The work on CTR began with a small team inside Naughty Dog. The bigger team went on to prototype a new IP for the PlayStation 2, that would be later become Jak and Daxter. The team then decided to have a final take of that moment with their bosses at Universal. They got rumble and a remote control car for his birthday and one weekend when it was just the team at the studio, they took the car to Universal's conference room and drove it around the table. Needless to say Universal was furious when they came to work that week, but the team found it pretty funny. They internally referred to the game as Crash Racing and Crash Kart. Sony's marketing team came up with the Crash Team Racing name but Naughty Dog would simply refer to it as CTR after the name was chosen. According to Rubin, the entire development process of the game (aside from the new engine) was 8 months and 6 days with 21 Dogs. He says it was one of the most fun games he'd ever tested but one of the toughest to develop. [4] [5] [6]

Evan was especially instrumental in helping me survive CTR. Instead of CTR, Andy, Stephen White, and Mark Cerny were working on early Jak and Daxter prototyping. For the first time since I was 15 I was working on a game project without Andy at my side. And Stephen White and Mark Cerny, the other coders that I had come to know and depend on at Naughty Dog were also off the project. Dave Baggett had left Naughty Dog a year earlier. In their stead there was a new group of new programmers at the healm, none of which I had worked with for more than a few year: Danny Chan, Evan Wells, Didier Malenfant and Gavin James. It is on CTR, which was the hardest project I have ever done, that I really got to know Evan's skills as a designer and coder. I guess you could say that from that point on Evan was destined to take my place at Naughty Dog's helm.[3]

Since CTR would be their last game, they planned to kill the franchise using the main villain, Nitros Oxide, by making something stupid like an alien as the antagonist. They figured people wouldn't take the game serious and move on from Crash, but to their surprise the plan backfired.

We actually tried to kill Crash. In CTR, we said "what won't anyone believe?" - because this was our last game. "Let's put aliens in. We'll bring in an alien, no one will like Crash after that cause there's an alien. This'll be the end, we've jumped the shark, the alien came to CTR." Everybody loved it!

— Jason Rubin

During the development, there was a tracker system in the game that recorded every single movement of the players, which was intented to watch it later and check how they would interact with the game, and then make any necessary changes.

We had a debug that recorded the way people played the game, every detail like button presses, the path they took, everything. We were blown away by the Sony testers and had to make a number of track changes as a result. Like Papu's Pyramid, where the testers were going full speed and doing a 180 jump right before the finish line and land in front, then drive up to the bridge and hop down do the 180 etc. They had like 12 second race times. The wall was a LOT shorter. We kept extending it. Then the testers would bounce on the wall and bounce over.

— Rob Titus

Concept Art

Scientist Oxide

The first drafts of Oxide when he was still planned to be a mad scientist.

Alien Oxide


Opening Sequence Storyboard

CTR StoryboardOpeningSequence.jpg

Bruce Straley, ex-director at Naughty Dog, posted on his Twitter account a picture of the storyboards from the game's opening sequence, revealing some ideas that were cut in the final game.[7]

  • Polar is wearing a cap, and the book he is reading was originally called "DRIVING 101", which has been changed to "HOW TO DRIVE".
    • The scene description says the camera zooms in, which is exactly the opposite in the final game.
  • Dingodile is sitting while tweaking his kart's engine.
  • One of the transitions features a zoomed-in road, which is not present in the final game.

Cut Character Myth

Years ago, there was a rumor about a supposedly cut character from the game. It all started when a misterious character was found as a sketch in series artist Bob Rafei's portfolio of CTR character designs. Said picture of a blue hippo in a pilot outfit was simply described as Trippo. Everyone immediately assumed he was an unused character for CTR, since it was grouped with pictures Bob did of Nitros Oxide. But contrary to popular belief, the hippo character (populary known as Fasty or Trippo) was never intended for CTR. He later stated in an interview that the character design was just a mascot idea sketched for the Trippo Airfare search engine, lumped by mistake with other CTR sketches.

If I recall correctly Trippo was character design I did for a friend who was developing airfare search engine and was looking for a mascot of sorts, and not part of CTR designs. I should have placed it in another category, but honestly, I've been too busy with BRB [Big Red Button] projects and family to keep up the site! [8]

— Bob Rafei

BobRafei Trippo.jpg

Pop Fiction Interview

Back in 2012, Evan Wells gave an interview for Pop Fiction to unravel the urban legend surrounding Nitros Oxide being a playable character. He also revealed more details of the game's development and its scrapped features.

Crescent Island Replica

Early in the development of the game, Naughty Dog made a replica of Crescent Island from Diddy Kong Racing to see if they could make a racing track of that size on the PlayStation.

“Early on in development, when we were actually still just trying to prototype the game, this back when we were still working on Crash Bandicoot 3, in fact, in the early days of CTR, we were doing some overlapping development, we actually built an entire replica of Crescent Island from Diddy Kong Racing because we wanted to say "okay, this is a track we know and is fun to play in another game", and we wanted to make sure that we can reproduce a track of that scope and scale on the PS1, so we built that on its entirety - with pirate ship and all, and we proved we can actually build this environment, we can fit in memory, framerate, all that stuff works. Of course it never saw the light of the day and it was never supposed to, we were copying someone else's work, so it was just for test, but you know, it probably served.”

— Evan Wells

Nitros Oxide as a Playable Character

“Nitros Oxide was never designed to be anything but the boss character that he was with the shipped game [...], we considered making him playable at one point, but we were under such just extreme memory limitations on the PlayStation 1, I mean, I think like two megas of memory or something in the entire system, so everything was just stripped down and we actually had designed his boss level specifically to keep in mind that his character model can be a little bigger than avarage, and so we couldn't make him across the whole game.”

— Evan Wells

This is further confirmed by Rob Titus, that according to him, they had planned on making Oxide playable. However, the reality of his huge character set in towards the end of development, and they realized that he could not fit into memory with other characters on all the tracks. Plus his size and stats were an issue for balance with gameplay, so they dropped him as playable in order to finish the game in time.

Scrapped Characters

Pura and Polar were originally meant to be one racer, and Komodo Moe was meant to appear with his brother Komodo Joe, also as one racer.

“Over the course of development a lot of things changed, we had changed the roster of characters, originally we were gonna try to have Pura and Polar be just one character to ride in one car together, but again because of memory limitations, we couldn't actually get both them in one car, and Komodo Moe and Joe, or both, were supposed to show up but one of them had to sit on the sidelines.”

— Evan Wells

Original Storyline

Originally, the story was designed to be deeper and darker, in which Nitros Oxide was planned to be a mad scientist like Dr. Neo Cortex, in a bid to conquer the world, again. But eventually, it seems the developers decided it was too complex for a racing game (or ran out of time), and everything was scrapped in favor of a wacky and simpler storyline.

Early Plot

"Neo Cortex isn't the only insane inventor on the Three Islands where Crash Bandicoot lives. Dr Nitros Oxide is about to unleash his own form of madness in an attempt to take over the world. After he suffered a terrible accident as a child, Nitros Oxide was transformed into an ultra-fast freak of nature. He challenged the inhabitants of the island to a racing tournament and retired undefeated after ten years of failing to find any genuine contenders for his crown. Bored and restless he turned his attentions towards taking over the world.

Learning of this, Dr Cortex has gathered both friends and lifelong enemies together in one united attempt to defeat Nitros Oxide once and for all. If just one of them can out race him, maybe they can stop him from operating The Hyper Activator – a power beam machine capable of turning the entire planet into a super fast speed zone. Each of the new contenders is now intent on taking the Hyper Activator for his or her own purposes – while Crash and his friends want to prevent it getting into the hands of a mad scientist, there's a whole slew of evil wackos who want it to grant them control over the world.

They decided to challenge each other in a series of races to find out who was the fastest, and most worthy, to face Nitros Oxide in the final showdown. The race to save the planet had begun!" [9]

Dr. Oxide

"Dr. Nitrus Oxide is a mad scientist obsessed with speed. In fact, he is so obsessed; he has hatched this terrible plan to speed up Crash's world, even though it will destroy all life on the planet, including Crash, Coco, and Dr. Cortex! Everyone has their own reason to try and stop the evil doctor... but nobody is fast enough to defeat him on the track, the one thing that will demoralise him enough to slow him down and make him vulnerable. Maybe, if they all compete together, one of them will become good enough in their Racer to give Oxide a run for his Hyper Activator." [9]

Hyper Activator

"The Hyper Activator is a diabolical device that Nitrus Oxide has built to speed up the entire planet. When it is switched into overdrive, minutes become seconds and days become hours. Oxide, who was born hyper fast, will finally be comfortable with the world at this new speed. The rest of the citizens of the world, however, will be lost in an endless, mind-wrenching blur as everything around them zooms past at super speed. If this happens, Oxide will be able to do whatever he wants with the planet. All of the characters in Crash Team Racing have the same goal: Learn to race well, defeat Oxide, then Grab and then Destroy the Hyper Activator device attached to his vehicle." [9]

Kart Customization

Due to the tight development time, many ideas were cut during the development. The most ambitious of them was the upgrade and customization which was going to play a big role in the game.

[...] All of the characters in Crash Team Racing ride in the same stock Racer. Their weights and talents change the base abilities of each of the racers, however. In addition, players can customise the three main abilities of their Racer: top speed, cornering, and acceleration, by competing in the Adventure mode of the game. These powered up vehicles can then be saved to the memory card and moved into the multi-player arenas.

The game has been carefully tuned so that the Adventure mode of the game takes into account all of the upgraded abilities of the player's Racer. It is important to remember that at the same time as the gamer is building up their Racer the AI characters are struggling to build up theirs as well. In the multi-player modes, we have left the user multiple options. They can race in either "Stock" mode, in which all the Racers are base models, "Modified" mode, in which all of the players get the same number of gold wrenches with which to customise a Stock car before each race, and "Unlimited" mode, which allows the players to load customised Adventure mode cars from memory cards and compete in all out war. In Unlimited mode, anything goes! [10]

— Jason Rubin

Gold Wrenches

According to many interviews and pre-release articles, a feature called "Gold Wrenches" was planned to be a collectable prize in Adventure mode. The player would receive them by beating a level or boss in order to upgrade the kart's performance. Interestingly, the files for different builds of the game seem to reveal this feature might never have been implemented into the game to begin with.

CTR Wrench Mechanic.png CTR Wrench Mechanic 2.png

This article also mentions you would receive relics by beating N. Tropy in Time Trial mode, although there is no proof supporting this claim. [11]

Jason Rubin also reinforced this feature to Electric Playground during an interview at E3 1999:

Adventure mode is where you start with a normal car and you have to go through all the tracks in the series, and then sometimes do a multi track, sometimes you do time trial tracks, and slowly but surely you build up enough power, and enough actually gold wrenches to buy acceleration, to buy turning, to buy top speed, and though you go against Nitros Oxide - he is a big bad guy.

— Jason Rubin

Upgrade Options

Some European press discs also include more details about each type of customization, plus also revealing which parts could be upgraded.

In CTR customise your karts in three categories: TYRES, EXHAUST, and ENGINE.

  • TYRESThere are 3 levels of Tyres that determine a kart’s handling
    • STREET – This is what you start with. Good all round tires
    • SLICKS – Much more responsive than Street Tires
    • MONSTER – Hug the road with the greatest of ease!
  • EXHAUSTThere are 3 levels of Exhaust that determine a kart’s acceleration
    • DUAL – This is what you start with
    • FREE FLOW – Now some real get up and go!
    • TURBO – Super 0-60 assisted power!
  • ENGINEThere are 3 types of engines that determine a kart’s top speed
    • 100cc – This is what you start with
    • 150cc – More horses when the going gets tough!
    • 250cc – More beast than beauty. Not for the timid! [9]

Lugnut's Garage

The European website also mentions the "Lugnut's garage", which it's believed it was going to be the menu where the player would be able to customize their karts.[12]

•Tune and upgrade the tyres, exhaust and engine of your karts in Lugnut's garage


The power-ups section of the overview document mentions an unused power-up and different behaviors for Power Shield and Clock.[9]

Cure – cured from a Poison Beaker
Spring – allows you to jump really high and steer in the air.
N. Tropy Clock – all other players go into a spin-out and the player in 1st place will have their top speed reduced for 10 seconds (unless you’re in 1st place).

Oxide Station

According to Rob Titus, Oxide Station had been over designed as well. There was a really dark day in the last months of development when Danny Chan had a big white board with all the levels in the game and how much memory needed to be trimmed in order to fit. Bob Rafei had all of his levels that he had to rework including Oxide Station, which was at least 3 times larger than what ended up in the game. Oxide Station was a disaster from day one, and Bob Rafei spent so much time chopping it down to fit into memory. He had to rebuild it 3 times. The team had plans for every level to be available for 4 player, but Oxide Station didn't have enough memory, so it got cut for 4 player. [13]

Scrapped Ice Themed Track

Rob Titus, former Naughty Dog developer, quickly built a track reusing the assets from the other snow tracks. The course was almost complete, and was eventually shown to Jason Rubin and Evan Wells. But they didn't have time to debug it, thus, the track didn't appear on the game.

“Yes, I created a short figure 8 track that was all ice. It crossed over itself and was so fun! I was reusing the snow level assets and I had it about 98% done. It took me about a day to do. Showed it to Jason and Evan, but we didn't have time to debug it. It was very fun.” [13]

— Rob Titus


E3 Jason link

CTR name source