Ever since that little Italian plumber jumped in a squat racing vehicle on the Super Nintendo back in 1992, gamers have been obsessed with kart racing.  And with good reason.  Dispensing with any particular realism (Gran Turismo 5, this is not) and focusing only on fun, the kart racer is a pleasant way to white-knuckle it across the finish line.

The iTunes App Store currently features two very popular kart racers for the iPhone, Pangea's Cro-Mag Rally [App Store] and Vivendi's Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D [App Store].  We thought readers might appreciate a head-to-head...or kart-to-kart...comparison between these titles in order to better choose the racer right for them.

A QUICK OVERVIEW

Cro-Mag Rally:

  • 9 different ractracks (including 'Atlantis' which is underwater)
  • 11 different vehicles
  • 9 types of powerups
  • Play modes: Race, Gather
  • Game size: 58.3MB
  • App Store price: $9.99

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D:

  • 12 different racetracks
  • 6 different vehicles
  • 8 different weapons
  • Play modes: Quick Race, Cup, Story, Time Trial
  • Game size: 7.0MB
  • App Store price: $9.99


Cro-Mag Rally

SOUND

There is no comparison here.  Cro-Mag Rally (Cro-Mag) has extemely atmospheric, stereo sound effects that give a whole new dimension to the gameplay.  What's more, the soundtrack is superb both fidelity and in content--I wish I had the tracks in my iTunes playlist.  On the other hand, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D (Crash) features much more bland sound effects and a fairly generic soundtrack (reminiscent of something one might hear on the Nintendo 64), both of which appear to be mono.  Cro-Mag's quality audio is surely the main reason that it is an 8x larger install than Crash.  The clear win is Cro-Mag on audio.

VISUALS

I feel that Cro-Mag has the superior render quality and higher in-game framerate of the two titles.  And while both titles have various animated on-track obstacles (sliding walls, bouncing crates, wandering zombies, etc.), Cro-Mag's feel more solidly implemented. Also, while the kart in Crash is solidly fixed to the center of the display, Cro-Mag offers a little more "play" to the cart's fix point, making the latter feel a little more natural, somehow.  In the visuals department, Cro-Mag wins.

DESIGN

Cro-Mag's tracks feel more like a series of connected open areas as opposed to typical, narrow tracks.  This gives the game less of an on-rails feel, as the player can meander here and there about the terrain.  And while this adds variation to each turn about the track, it makes the game feel somewhat less focused as a racer.

Crash's tracks are more in-line with what one might expect from a kart racer.  No valleys to explore here.  And while the player indeed feels more fenced in as a result, it does give the game a more fast-paced, breakneck feel.  Crash's track design comes out on top.


Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D

GAMEPLAY

Cro-Mag features a Race mode and a Gather mode.  In the Race mode, the player is pitted against three other randomly-chosen opponents and is challenged to beat them across the finish line.  At the player's disposal are various weapons and powerups that can be collected along the way, as well as obstacles to avoid (twisters, wandering mummies, etc).  Gather mode is still a race to the finish, but adds the requirement of collecting arrowheads along the way.  All tracks and vehicles are available from the start.

Crash offers a Cup mode, a Story mode, and a Time Trial mode.  Cup mode is the core racing mode where the player chooses from among three different cups of increasing difficulty, each consisting of four tracks.  A trophy is awarded based on overall performance at the end of each cup's series of four tracks.  Only the first cup is available at start, the other two must be unlocked based on success in the preceding cup.  The player is pitted against five other racers in each race.

In Story mode, the player is made to complete various objectives along the way--collect more Wumpas than the opponent, for example.  This can be fun, and I find it to be more of a valuable addition than was Cro-Mag's Gather mode.  The Time Trial mode is self explanatory.

I find Crash to offer the more solid and engaging gameplay of the two.

CONTROL

In both titles, driving control is achieved by tilting the iPhone left and right, and both have settings to adjust tilt sensitivity.  Cro-Mag offers a forward / reverse accelerator that is held with the left thumb during play, along with a break button.  Crash features constant, full-speed-ahead acceleration and a jump control that doubles (if held down) to enable drifting on corners.  I was surprised to find no issue with the glued-to-the-floor accelerator in Crash--it works fine. Overall, I feel the control contest is a wash--control is fine on both games.

This video provides a side-by-side comparison of the two games:

AND, THE WINNER IS...

In the above areas of comparison, the games are tied.  But, of course, a game is much more than the sum of its parts.  And as such, despite the lovelier renderings of Cro-Mag Rally, I feel that Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D is the title that offers more engaging gameplay and more replay value in the long run.  They are both fine titles that are definitely worth a few megabytes on any gamer's iPhone, but if you're a one-kart-racer type of person, then Crash is the way to go.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Taavi Taijala

    Now I might be mistaken here, but I can find no way to increase the difficulty in Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart. Meanwhile, Cro-mag Rally has Easy, Medium, and Hard settings. For me, this was a deciding factor in which I like more, since I'm consistently winning all of my races in CBNK .

    If I am wrong about there not being a difficulty setting, please let me know. I'd really love it if I could make CBNK 3D harder.

  • Taavi Taijala

    Now I might be mistaken here, but I can find no way to increase the difficulty in Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart. Meanwhile, Cro-mag Rally has Easy, Medium, and Hard settings. For me, this was a deciding factor in which I like more, since I'm consistently winning all of my races in CBNK .

    If I am wrong about there not being a difficulty setting, please let me know. I'd really love it if I could make CBNK 3D harder.

  • http://www.lockergnome.com/digged Matt McCarty

    CBNK has tighter controls and just plays better then Cro-Mag.

    Both games are good but CBNK is slightly better.

  • http://www.lockergnome.com/digged Matt McCarty

    CBNK has tighter controls and just plays better then Cro-Mag.

    Both games are good but CBNK is slightly better.

  • Frippe

    What is kind of weird is the different in size. 58 Mb vs 7 Mb is a very big gap. I wonder why that is.

  • Frippe

    What is kind of weird is the different in size. 58 Mb vs 7 Mb is a very big gap. I wonder why that is.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Frippe: As I indicated in the article, I believe the difference in size is due to the fact that Pangea is using MP3's in Cro-Mag Rally, giving it such excellent sound. I am guessing that Vivendi is running a little synth app that's reading FM-type sounds for the soundtrack. Crash's soundtrack is acceptable, but Cro-Mag's is exquisite.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Frippe: As I indicated in the article, I believe the difference in size is due to the fact that Pangea is using MP3's in Cro-Mag Rally, giving it such excellent sound. I am guessing that Vivendi is running a little synth app that's reading FM-type sounds for the soundtrack. Crash's soundtrack is acceptable, but Cro-Mag's is exquisite.

  • davidpiano1

    How come in the video you steer cromag like a wheel, but push the phone "forwards and backwards" along the z-axis with crash?

    I heard that in cromag if you steer like a wheel the game adjusts the video to make the horizon line perfectly horizontal. Is this also true for crash and if not, is that why ur steering that way?

  • davidpiano1

    How come in the video you steer cromag like a wheel, but push the phone "forwards and backwards" along the z-axis with crash?

    I heard that in cromag if you steer like a wheel the game adjusts the video to make the horizon line perfectly horizontal. Is this also true for crash and if not, is that why ur steering that way?

  • http://costa.kofeina.net CoSTa

    I found Cro-Mag rather boring. After some playing the lackness of any play modes like "cup" or something less boring than just racing. The game does not offer any competition other than difficulty settings and that's really a pain.

  • http://costa.kofeina.net CoSTa

    I found Cro-Mag rather boring. After some playing the lackness of any play modes like "cup" or something less boring than just racing. The game does not offer any competition other than difficulty settings and that's really a pain.

  • http://cybersurge.org Michael

    Cro-Mag is a cool game but the fact that there is no real goal and no unlockables means there isn't really a point to playing it. On the CBNK3D side of it you get to unlock new story missions and new characters, meaning you can spend hours playing the game without it getting boring.

  • http://cybersurge.org Michael

    Cro-Mag is a cool game but the fact that there is no real goal and no unlockables means there isn't really a point to playing it. On the CBNK3D side of it you get to unlock new story missions and new characters, meaning you can spend hours playing the game without it getting boring.

  • D Wo

    I think that crash is in Beta right now...

    in the App Store it says it's version 0.7.4

  • D Wo

    I think that crash is in Beta right now...

    in the App Store it says it\'s version 0.7.4

  • SEN

    I like this website. I come here almost everyday!

    Great website for people who will buy stuffs from iTunes!

    Will you review some WiFi games in the future? So far I only know there's only Texa Hold'em, which is from Apple.

    Have a good day!

  • SEN

    I like this website. I come here almost everyday!

    Great website for people who will buy stuffs from iTunes!

    Will you review some WiFi games in the future? So far I only know there's only Texa Hold'em, which is from Apple.

    Have a good day!

  • Jon

    I agree with all of your points, except that for some reason the controls in Cro-Mag feel more accurate and responsive to me. And I appreciate the ability to go in reverse (although you mostly need it because it's possible to go the wrong way, and there are some obstacles that can only be gotten out of by backing up.)

  • Jon

    I agree with all of your points, except that for some reason the controls in Cro-Mag feel more accurate and responsive to me. And I appreciate the ability to go in reverse (although you mostly need it because it's possible to go the wrong way, and there are some obstacles that can only be gotten out of by backing up.)

  • http://www.lockergnome.com/digged Matt McCarty

    @Jon on Crash you can go in reverse. Tap and hold the bottom-middle of the screen, it will make the kart go in reverse.

  • http://www.lockergnome.com/digged Matt McCarty

    @Jon on Crash you can go in reverse. Tap and hold the bottom-middle of the screen, it will make the kart go in reverse.

  • Pete

    crash at the moment seems better. Cromag seems flat, while there are much more hills and ups and downs in crash. But the winner will be the game that introduces multiplayer!

  • Pete

    crash at the moment seems better. Cromag seems flat, while there are much more hills and ups and downs in crash. But the winner will be the game that introduces multiplayer!

  • Russ Bell

    I think the reason Crash "wins" is that it's just easier to play. You're less likely to get stuck or lost or start going the wrong way or start bouncing back and forth between the sides in Crash. If you want to pick up a game and just play, Crash is better. Cro-mag has better graphics and sound, and takes a bit more practice. And Crash has various subgoals that make it more interesting.

    I would like to see toucharcade do a comparison to motoracer as well.

  • Russ Bell

    I think the reason Crash "wins" is that it's just easier to play. You're less likely to get stuck or lost or start going the wrong way or start bouncing back and forth between the sides in Crash. If you want to pick up a game and just play, Crash is better. Cro-mag has better graphics and sound, and takes a bit more practice. And Crash has various subgoals that make it more interesting.

    I would like to see toucharcade do a comparison to motoracer as well.

  • arn

    @Russ Bell. We posted a review of moto racer here:

    http://toucharcade.com/2008/07/16/freeverses-wingnuts-moto-racer-for-iphone/

    I don't think Moto Racer and these games are really in the same market. Moto Racer is an arcade style (think OutRun) game where you just try to make it to the next checkpoint. There are no weapons and powerups (well, one "speedup"), and you're not even racing against someone else. If you're looking for something in the style of these kart-racers, you will be bored playing Moto Racer. That being said, there are people who like the checkpoint/against the clock driving games... and Moto racer appeals to that demographic.

    arn

  • arn

    @Russ Bell. We posted a review of moto racer here:

    http://toucharcade.com/2008/07/16/freeverses-wingnuts-moto-racer-for-iphone/

    I don't think Moto Racer and these games are really in the same market. Moto Racer is an arcade style (think OutRun) game where you just try to make it to the next checkpoint. There are no weapons and powerups (well, one "speedup"), and you're not even racing against someone else. If you're looking for something in the style of these kart-racers, you will be bored playing Moto Racer. That being said, there are people who like the checkpoint/against the clock driving games... and Moto racer appeals to that demographic.

    arn

  • http://squishsoftware.com/ AriX

    I extracted the Cro-Mag Rally application, and it appears that the music soundtracks are in m4a (AAC) format, while the sound effects are in caf (either WAV or AIFF) format... I do agree that the music is fantastic, and I DID actually add a couple to my iTunes library, however one thing confuses me. Two of these tracks are also tracks used in the Mac version of Enigmo 1.0, however, the iPhone version of Enigmo has no music whatsoever, just sound effects. If they could do music in Cro-Mag Rally, why not Enigmo? Maybe processing all of those droplets just uses so much CPU that it can't handle music playback but... that's kind of hard to imagine.

  • http://squishsoftware.com/ AriX

    I extracted the Cro-Mag Rally application, and it appears that the music soundtracks are in m4a (AAC) format, while the sound effects are in caf (either WAV or AIFF) format... I do agree that the music is fantastic, and I DID actually add a couple to my iTunes library, however one thing confuses me. Two of these tracks are also tracks used in the Mac version of Enigmo 1.0, however, the iPhone version of Enigmo has no music whatsoever, just sound effects. If they could do music in Cro-Mag Rally, why not Enigmo? Maybe processing all of those droplets just uses so much CPU that it can't handle music playback but... that's kind of hard to imagine.

  • http://www.prodigalgamer.com Prodigal Gamer

    For me this all comes down to the 'gas' button. I hate having to press a button on the screen the whole time I'm driving. Just like nearly all racers you spend 99% of ever race with the pedal to the metal anyway. Crash is a much better experience.

  • http://www.prodigalgamer.com Prodigal Gamer

    For me this all comes down to the 'gas' button. I hate having to press a button on the screen the whole time I'm driving. Just like nearly all racers you spend 99% of ever race with the pedal to the metal anyway. Crash is a much better experience.

  • BacaraMac

    Thanks for the tip on Crash for reverse feature. I knew there was a brake, but didn't know it went in rev. I didn't buy Cro-Mag and only CBNK3D. I am very happy with my purchase as my 6 year old can play to kill time in the car and it is very easy for her. I would recommend Crash.

  • BacaraMac

    Thanks for the tip on Crash for reverse feature. I knew there was a brake, but didn't know it went in rev. I didn't buy Cro-Mag and only CBNK3D. I am very happy with my purchase as my 6 year old can play to kill time in the car and it is very easy for her. I would recommend Crash.

  • http://toucharcade.com zahir

    please let me get this game for my class room we need some free time

  • http://toucharcade.com zahir

    please let me get this game for my class room we need some free time

  • NotYou

    @zahir

    okay

  • NotYou

    @zahir

    okay

  • ellen

    i love this game :)
    i have it on mi ipod touch!

  • ellen

    i love this game :)
    i have it on mi ipod touch!

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