I know this may seem like a weird comparison. But these games have more in common than you’d think. I will be comparing the different features both of these titles have in common, to see which areas these each did better in. Who do you think will win?
Expectations Prior To Release
Many expected The Simpsons: Hit & Run to be a typical tv show tie in, releasing as a mediocre shovelware title. However, according to Wikipedia, it “is often considered the best Simpsons tie-in game and has gained a cult following.” Se-vice to say, Hit & Run was a commercial success. It sold over 3 million copies and became one of the best-selling games on PS2, Gamecube and Xbox.
Crash Tag Team Racing (CTTR), on the other hand, prior to its release, was expected to be revered alongside the legendary Crash Team Racing on PS1. This was also expected from Crash Nitro Kart (CNK), and just like it, Crash Tag Team Racing received a mixed reception. However, many fans see CNK as being an overall better game than CTTR.
Now that we have a bit of background on both games, let’s look at the 1st category they were be compared with:
Hit and Run is a parody of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, focusing on driving around an open-world Springfield and performing Hit and Runs (hence the name). Despite being linear, the locations look just like they do in the show. You start off inside The Simpson’s residence. Leave the house, and you will spot a disgruntled Ned Flanders next door. Drive along the road, and you’ll come across places such as the Kwik-E-Mart, followed by the Church, Springfield Elementary, a Krusty Burger Restaurant, and even Mr Burn’s Power Plant. The game has 3 maps, each different sporting locations from the show (though the maps are repeated later on in the game at different times of the day). It’s a clever way to include everything without the game performance being hit by the consoles’ limitations.
Meanwhile, Crash Tag Team Racing has 5 locations set in different areas of a theme park. These range from a fairytale/horror stage to a dinosaur area. While they are all unique, none of them has anything to do with the lore of the Crash Bandicoot series. Not to mention they are only glorified large hubs used to access levels, rather than the main focus of gameplay like in Hit and Run.
Winner: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Driving And Handling
Crash Tag Team Racing has adopted the main gimmick of Mario Kart: Double Dash. This is when two racers share a car, with one driving and the other shooting. That’s where the similarities end though. Unlike any Mario Kart or the previous Crash racing games, CTTR‘s tracks are one-way lanes. With that said, you can eventually unlock a shortcut for each track later on, but even this doesn’t add much substance. The cars can’t even drift; a feature that is expected in a Kart Racer! The most fun you’ll have is manning the turret, gunning down approaching racers over the 3 laps. Yes, the worst part of Crash Tag Team Racing, is the DRIVING! That’s most of the game. The only praise I can give is tracks are nice to look at in the 1st lap and they all look like different areas of a theme park, which was the intent.
Thankfully Simpsons Hit and Run is a different story. Unlike in CTTR, the cars all have different stats and handle smoothly with power sliding and braking (almost like a Kart Racer). Racing in different parts of Springfield is just more visually appealing and provides shortcuts without unlock them.
Winner: The Simpsons: Hit & Run – No contest
Both titles treat platforming as the secondary thing you do, though in CTTR it’s the only thing I wanted to do ironically. Both offer plenty of areas to explore, require you to collect coins to purchase new clothes and vehicles, as well as programming both sets of characters to double jump, attack and ground pound. However again, Hit and Run’s open-world just has too much of an advantage over CTTR‘s hub areas, with more areas to explore.
Winner: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Both games have a fun, bouncy soundtrack, so there’s no clear favorite for me. Hit and Run relies solely on real instruments, while CTTR‘s music is also partly performed by a capella (by mouth). Both titles offer an amusing dialogue between their characters. What hinders CTTR though is Crash, who solely speaks in grunts. This means an NPC can only ever have a one-way conversation with him. Conversely, in Hit and Run, your character and an NPC exchange banter between each other, just like in the show when it still had class. The Simpsons cartoon series writers wrote all the story and dialogue of Hit and Run to top it off. So as you probably guessed, it’s much higher caliber than CTTR‘s. But the latter still has its funny moments.
Winner: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Hit and Run‘s story revolves around mysterious things happening in Springfield like vans with cameras, crop circles and a new flavor of Buzz Cola that causes insanity. It’s up to The Simpson family (and Apu) to investigate these strange happenings and put a stop to them.
CTTR begins with Team Cortex driving and shooting after Team Crash, causing them both to crash (no pun intended) into an amusement park. However, the owner is happy to see them as he reveals the black gem powering his lifeforce has been stolen. Therefore he needs them to find it before he dies. In exchange, he offers ownership of his theme park as compensation to whoever finds it and the power gems first.
Based on their descriptions alone it isn’t easy to summarise which story is better. However, thanks to having talented writers at its disposal, Hit and Run offers more exposition throughout the game to tie its plot together. Meanwhile, CTTR‘s cutscenes are, while amusing, feel disjointed and fail to tell a cohesive story.
CTTR actually takes its 1st win by having better-looking character models than Hit and Run. Having learned the lessons from the woeful model design in The Wraith Of Cortex (despite being different developers – I digress), they have avoided the buggy eyes effect that has plagued many characters in Hit and Run. To be fair, in The Simpsons, a lot of character have big bulging eyes. But that works because it’s 2D hand-drawn animation. Transferring that to 3D models on pre-HD systems was always going to look rough. However, CTTR isn’t in the clear either, as the textures appear a little on the muddy side. Hit and Run‘s on the other hand, are more colorful and vibrant.
It’s obvious The Simpsons: Hit & Run is the superior title. With that said, Crash Tag Team Racing was able to get close to it in a few categories, even tying in the looks department. It just shows that sometimes we underestimate the feats a mediocre game achieves when we compare it to more polished titles.
Which game is your favorite? Do you feel Crash Tag Team Racing should have won any of these categories? What 2 unrelated games do you think are similar?
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