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Crash Nitro Kart is a kart racing game. It's the second Mascot Racer spinoff of the Crash Bandicoot series after Crash Team Racing, and the first console title to be developed by Vicarious Visions, who had previously worked on the two handheld titles. It was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance in 2003 and the N-Gage and mobile devices in 2004.
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On a relaxing day for the Bandicoots, and in the middle of working out an Evil Plan on Dr. Neo Cortex's side, both wind up kidnapped and finding themselves in a galactic racing circuit hosted by Emperor Velo XXVII, alongside N. Trance and Nitros Oxide. Velo challenges them to a race, rewarding them with freedom if they win, and threatening The End of the World as We Know It if they refuse. With little choice, they accept the race.

It's followed by Crash Tag Team Racing in 2005, which had new developers and a more distinct feel than CNK.

The upcoming Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, slated for release in 2019, will feature remade elements from this game, including all thirteen tracks and karts. Anti-gravity physics present in certain stages have been removed to better sync the content with that of Crash Team Racing.

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Tropes used in this game:

  • 100% Completion: Get 13 relics (any color is fine) and beat Galaxy Championship 2. Note that each team is its own creature; if you want a complete 100%, do it with both teams. You know you have done it if you unlock Velo.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Norm first arrives for his boss fight, both Team Bandicoot and Team Cortex end up laughing at him. Then Velo himself has a short burst of laughter at Norm, before snapping out of it and telling the teams not to underestimate the tiny mime.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Oddly enough, Spyro the Dragon gets this treatment in the GBA version, as he is protected by Uka Uka (who protects villainous characters) instead of Aku Aku (who protects heroic characters) for no discernable reason. This might be because he's been brainwashed by N. Trance, since his vehicle is the same as Team Trance, but he doesn't have the same mind control helmet that Polar and Dingodile have.
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  • Adapted Out: The GBA version of the game omits Zem, Zam, Pura and the real Velo, and instead features the bosses as unlockable characters, and Pura is replaced by Spyro.
  • Alien Sky: Thunder Struck and Assembly Line have green sky.
  • Aliens Speaking English: There is no language barrier between the racers of Earth and the various aliens.
  • All-Loving Hero: The three bandicoots are pretty gracious winners for most of their boss fights. Crash has some particularly sweet moments towards Krunk and the real Velo.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: All of the alien planets, for the sheer reason that the Earth champions are able to breathe and walk (and race!) around them without suffering ill effects. Other than that, however, this trope is specifically evoked with Terra, which is stated to be most similar to Earth (and leads to Krunk claiming that Earth is a poor man's copy of his planet).
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: Invoked in the GBA version's final race with Velo, which sees you warping between all four hub worlds during the course of each lap.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: If you win the adventure mode as Team Cortex.
  • Battle in the Rain: Or rather, Race in the Rain. Thunder Struck is this.
  • Big Bad: Emperor Velo XXVII.
  • Big Brother Instinct: It's subtle, but in the intro when both teams are abducted, after taking in his location, Crash immediately wonders where Coco and Crunch are. Also when Velo reveals himself, Crash can be seen standing in front of a worried Coco and shooting the Emperor an uncharacteristic Death Glare.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Dingodile, Polar and Pura all suffer this on N. Trance's team — having been kidnapped and brainwashed with mind-control helmets prior to the events of the game, and forced to race against Earth under his command.
  • Canon Foreigner: Zam and Zem on Velo's team make their only appearance to date in this game.
  • Canon Immigrant: N. Trance makes his first appearance on a home console Crash title in this game, having previously appeared in Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced.
  • Clockworks Area: Clockwork Wumpa.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Team Bandicoot is blue, Team Cortex is red, Team N. Trance is green, and Team Velo is yellow.
  • Competitive Balance: There are three major character tiers in this game. First there are the acceleration types such as Crash who excel at acceleration but have weak turning and an average top speed, the slow ones such as Coco who have a low top speed but excel at turning, and the fast ones such as Crunch who have a high top speed but accelerate very slowly. All four of the teams have a character that falls under one of these tiers; the non-Velo teams all have a fourth character who is a duplicate of one of these tiers (though among those three there are still one of each), and Velo who is the Master of All.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • The bosses with infinite items make a return in this game.
    • In the races against Velo, he cheats to such an insane degree that the Hyper Spaceway minimap is unable to be viewed because of him: his Rubber Band A.I. is so strong that he can almost instantly catch up given enough distance, and he can even teleport off-screen if trying to catch up normally wouldn't work for him.
  • Cosmetic Award: As with the platforming games, getting sapphire relics is sufficient if you want to get 100% completion in Adventure Mode. Platinum relics merely tick it up to 101% and otherwise gives you nothing.
  • Crate Expectations: As a Crash game, it's nothing the least bit surprising. New to this game from CTR, however, are two additional crates — the multiplier crate which always gives you three of a single weapon (in CTR, this would happen randomly out of an item crate), and the action crate which causes something in the level to change.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Nitros Oxide and N. Trance are demoted to supporting villains after their respective stints as the Big Bad in Crash Team Racing and Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced. The former is especially one, considering that CTR is what this game is a Spiritual Successor of, and he is part of Team Velo, who is this game's Big Bad.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Nitros Oxide plays almost no role in the game other than being a playable racer for the first time, and he plays like the other racers and doesn't use his spaceship.
    • Dingodile and Polar also count, since while they're still playable (albeit unlockable) characters in all other modes, neither play any role in the story aside from being non-playable racers on N. Trance's team. Pura gets it even worse, as he doesn't appear in the story at all and won't appear in races unless someone's playing as him. He's also completely absent from the GBA version, being replaced by Spyro.
  • Developers' Foresight: To challenge Velo for the second time, you have to get relics from all 13 tracks. That's a tall order, but at least you don't need the CNK tokens, right? Well, one of the Relic Races, Hyper Spaceway, happens to have a requirement of 4 gems, collected by winning the Gem Cups. To unlock all four challenges, collect all CNK tokens.
  • Dual Boss: You race against Norm and Big Norm simultaneously. Geary and Velo's championships, meanwhile have Trial Boss, as both have two minions who may win the race for them even if they could not.
  • End of an Era:
    • This was the final game where Clancy Brown voiced Cortex. Starting with Crash Twinsanity, Lex Lang took over and has remained ever since.
    • This was also the last main console title to closely follow Naughty Dog's aesthetics and gameplay style as well, with Twinsanity onwards increasingly dabbling in reinventing the series with new concepts and taking a Denser and Wackier tone.
  • Eternal Engine: Assembly Line.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Tiny and N. Gin are shocked when Cortex insults Big Norm after he congratulated them.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Polar and Pura, against their own will. Dingodile is technically this, too, since despite being one of Cortex's cronies, he is also brainwashed and thus races against Earth's victory.
  • Fake Difficulty: The CNK challenges in this game seem pretty lazily put together compared to the previous game's CTR challenges, with the letters put in places that seem more of an inconvenience rather than a challenge. A good example of this is Meteor Gorge — one of the letters is placed on the dirt way off course, so it's not particularly difficult to get, it's just very out of the way and will probably set you incredibly far back.
  • Fake Longevity: In order to unlock Velo, you have to beat him twice with both teams.
  • Final-Exam Boss: Emperor Velo is raced on an excruciatingly long track that you haven't seen up to this point, with the same infinite item gimmick the other bosses have...plus two minions riding alongside him to help!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Norm is first summoned, both teams will laugh at Norm's size. Velo stifles his laughter for a moment then follows suit, then assures the teams that despite his size, Norm is a demon on the race track. This is two-fold foreshadowing of Velo's true nature as a short alien with a Napoleon Complex - he laughs at short people despite his own height and is a demon on the race track even in his small form.
    • Tiny Temple looks like a character themed track akin to CTR oddly misplaced on an alien world, then we find out during Team Cortex's ending, that Terra's inhabitants worship Tiny's likeness.
  • Friendly Fireproof: In team races, characters on the same team are unable to hurt each other with items, as doing so simply results in the attacked teammate being protected by the team's mask.
  • Gainax Ending: The Team Cortex true ending counts as this. Cortex steals Velo's scepter and attempts to bring themselves back to Earth, but instead get teleported to Terra where they are nearly attacked by natives. Tiny fixes the scepter just in time and ends up revered as king. Cortex, out of annoyance, does a Skyward Scream and...the end. It's never explained how they get back to Earth in future games.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Justified and subverted; both teams (Team Bandicoot and Team Cortex) obviously don't want Velo to win, but they also don't want each other to win either. Considering they are forced into the competition though, they don't really have much of a choice other than to casually go kart with each other.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The main objective of Adventure Mode is to collect 12 trophies and 4 keys, allowing you to challenge Velo. Upon being defeated, he changes the rules and has you collect 13 relics as a prerequisite for you to challenge him again. One of the relic races requires you to have 4 gems in the Gem Cups, which are unlocked by collecting 12 CNK tokens, essentially making you do absolutely everything in the mode.
    • The purple CNK tokens are won by collecting all crystals in the battle arenas within a time limit.
  • Gravity Screw: A major introduction to this game is the inclusion of anti-gravity parts of the track. Whenever you reach one of these parts, the kart switches so that the wheels face downward and emit electricity to stay on course.
  • Guest Fighter: Spyro the Dragon appears as a secret racer in the Game Boy Advance version.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Crunch is a good guy in this game, following his freedom from Cortex in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex.
    • All the boss racers pull a downplayed case in Team Bandicoot's story, as they either befriend or get sympathy from the Bandicoots upon being defeated. Even Velo, surprisingly enough.
  • Interface Screw: If you drop a static orb on the track and you are juiced, it will temporarily reverse the controls of whoever comes in contact with it. Additionally, a juiced Ice Mine will cause anyone who runs into it to drive like they are on ice.
  • Interface Spoiler: If you unlock any of Velo's ghosts in Time Trials before getting Adventure Mode's 100% ending, you'll notice that the Velo ghost is a lot shorter than the Velo you see in Adventure Mode...
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Carried over from CTR, the mask power-up increases your character's speed and makes them invincible for several seconds. Aku Aku protects Team Bandicoot (Crash, Coco, Crunch, and Fake Crash), Uka Uka protects Team Cortex (Cortex, N. Gin, Tiny, and N. Tropy), and an unnamed Velo mask protects everyone else (N. Trance, Polar, Dingodile, Pura, Oxide, Zam, Zem, and Velo).
  • Joke Character: Fake Crash, who has rock-bottom speed, acceleration and handling.
  • Jungle Japes: Jungle Boogie. Terra in general has this aesthetic.
  • Karma Houdini: In the Hero side final ending, Velo is Easily Forgiven after his disguise is revealed and he agrees to send the bandicoots back in return for them giving back the winner's prize (his empire). Subverted in the Villain side final ending, where Cortex and Tiny essentially mug him for his scepter.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Had you not seen the 100% ending to Wrath of Cortex prior to this game, this one would spoil Crunch's Heel–Face Turn and The Reveal of him being Brainwashed and Crazy. While it's never directly stated in the game, it is in the game's manual.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Though nowhere near as bad as it was in The Wrath of Cortex, the PS2 version of this game still suffers from a pretty heavy amount of long load screens. Not helped by the fact that there's also a loading screen just for the podium, which CTR quite happily tried to avoid. Meaning if you don't want to see the podium sequence, you still have to wait for it to load. The GameCube and Xbox versions are a bit better about it.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: The alien who controls Velo, after he is revealed to have been a robot all along.
  • Master of All: Velo has maxed out stats across the board. This also applies to the bosses, who are unlockable in the GBA version.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: This game could effectively be considered a glorified track pack to CTR.
  • Moving the Goalposts: You win Velo's challenge if you beat him twice, and to deem you worthy of challenging him twice, you have to collect absolutely everything in your team's campaign (trophies, tokens, gems, and relics). That is all good if he is honest from the beginning, but Velo only says about collecting the relics and the second challenge after you beat him for the first time. Crash, Cortex, and co. naturally assume that their business in space is done after they beat Velo once and are not amused by the sudden rule change.
  • Morton's Fork: Velo will not let any of his competitors return to Earth unless they race the cup: they can technically leave, but he'll destroy Earth if they don't commit to his challenge. However, Velo also happens to be a Sore Loser, leading to him Moving the Goalposts when either team does win all the races and defeat him. The only reason either team gets to return to Earth in the end is because beating Velo the second time causes such a tantrum that he short circuits.
  • Nerf:
    • The Wumpa crates are heavily nerfed in this game compared to CTR. In CTR, they would often net you five to as many as eight wumpa fruits per box, but here, they often only give you three or four. This does make the wumpas that are sitting out in the open on the track a lot more meaningful, however.
    • The Tornado Top, this game's equivalent of the Warp Orb from CTR, now only has a higher chance of hitting others in front of you rather than guaranteeing a hit to every racer in front of you.
    • Homing Missiles are also much more prone to hitting walls in this game than they were in CTR, making them a lot less viable as a weapon.
  • Non-Player Character: In the console versions, all of the boss characters except Velo are unplayable, and they are also not seen outside of their respective championship races in the Adventure Mode. Even Velo is technically unplayable, despite being a part of the character roster, since the one whom you are given the option to play as is the tiny alien controlling him. The handheld editions make them all playable, albeit removing Real Velo in the process.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In CTR, you had the ability to fire bubble shields as a weapon against other racers. Not only was this a fairly useless feature since it was near impossible to aim, it also meant you couldn't fire a weapon while still holding onto the shield. This game remedies this issue by removing the whole firing feature altogether.
  • Over 100% Completion: Getting all platinum relics add 1% to the completion percentage, so when you beat Galaxy Championship 2, it goes to 101%.
  • Palmtree Panic: Inferno Island.
  • Planet Terra: Averted. There is actually a separate Earth-like planet called Terra. Its champion racer, Krunk, claims that Earth was created as a copy of his planet. Upon his defeat to Team Bandicoot, he admits that the truth is the other way around.
  • Promoted to Playable: Nitros Oxide is finally playable for the first time in this game (although you could technically play as him in CTR by using Game Shark codes). In addition, N. Trance makes his first playable appearance in the series.
  • Recycled In Space: It's Crash Team Racing IN SPACE! Well, subverted in that CTR did feature an alien as the main antagonist, but his track was the only one that took place in space, where in this game every track takes place on Velo's planet.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Oxide has two cohorts racing on his team named Zem and Zam who were never seen or mentioned in CTR, and they're given no proper introduction here.
  • Remixed Level: Virtually all tracks in the game are inspired by the tracks in CTR. Tiny Temple, for example, is a direct throwback to Tiger Temple down to the architecture and obstacles featured, albeit with a new anti-gravity section.
  • Robot Republic: Teknee is a planet populated entirely by robots.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Barin Ruins.
  • Robotic Reveal: In the 100% ending for both teams, Velo turns out to have just been a robot all along after he gets so angry that he blows up.
  • Secret Character: Dingodile, Fake Crash, N. Tropy, Polar, Pura, Velo, Zam, and Zem. Dingodile, Polar, Zam, and Zem are unlocked by getting the gems (red, blue, purple, and green, respectively). Fake Crash and Pura are unlocked by obtaining at least 50 power slide boosts in an Adventure Mode race (with Team Cortex and Team Bandicoot, respectively). N. Tropy is unlocked by beating all 13 of his ghosts in Time Trial. Finally, Velo is unlocked by getting 100% completion in Adventure Mode with both teams.
  • Secret Level: Two of them. The first, Hyper Spaceway, is where you race against Velo in both Galaxy Championships and unlocked for other modes after you beat him for the first time. The second, Terra Drome, is a battle arena unlocked after you get all purple CNK tokens. It is completely optional and is not visited in Adventure Mode.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Out of Time and Thunder Struck. Fenomena in general seems to be a desert planet.
  • Scenery Porn: Many of the tracks, especially the late game ones, are pretty clearly designed to be as eye-popping as possible, particularly with the electricity aesthetic.
  • Shout-Out: Dingodile has a few among his soundbites, including to The Crocodile Hunter ("Cuh-RI-key!") and to Crocodile Dundee ("You call that racing? This is racing!").
  • Sissy Fight: In Team Cortex's ending, when Cortex makes a grab for Velo's sceptre, the real Velo pounces him, leading to a short not-so-climatic scuffle between the two weeds before Tiny breaks them up.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Meteor Gorge and Barin Ruins. Barin in general seems to be a cold planet.
  • Spelling Bonus: The objective of the CNK Challenges, other than winning first place, is to find the letters C, N, and K within the race. Doing so awards you either a blue, green, or red CNK token; getting three same-colored tokens unlocks its corresponding Gem Cup.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Crash Team Racing. Crash Tag Team Racing serves as one to this game.
  • Squashed Flat: Can occasionally happen due to track obstacles; for instance, the train on Android Alley.
  • Temple of Doom: Tiny Temple.
  • Time Trial: Relic races make a return in this game.
  • Title Scream: "Brace yourself...for CRAAAAASH NITRO KAAAAAAART!"
  • Under the Sea: Deep Sea Driving.
  • The Un-Reveal: Neither of the truncated endings in the Game Boy Advance version make reference to Velo being a robot controlled by a dwarfish alien inside.
  • Villain Protagonist: Team Cortex in their Adventure Mode.
  • Wackyland: Fenomena has a bizarre aesthetic that cannot be shoehorned into a single theme. The planet has desert, clockwork machinery (including an enormous free-standing clock), medieval architecture, legendary creatures (e.g. gargoyles and giant bird eggs), and mesh platforms all rolled up into one. Its champion is a humanoid mime who can separate himself into two beings.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Of N. Trance's brainwashed victims, only Polar is actually freed from his control, and only in Team Bandicoot's ending. Dingodile and Pura don't get to be freed at any point.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Like CTR, the game is only halfway there when you collect all trophies and beat Velo for the first time. Velo states that he will only deem you a victor if you beat him in a second challenge, and to do that you need to collect all the relics and the other collectibles in the game.
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