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This article contains plot details.
Crash is taking a nap while Coco is trying to create a kart of unbelievable speed, and Crunch and Aku Aku are having an argument on if a diet is a better way to lose weight. Meanwhile at Cortex Castle, Tiny is playing checkers with himself while Cortex is thinking of a plan to defeat the bandicoots and conquer the world. Cortex commands Tiny to see if N. Gin requires assistance. During that, N. Gin is doing an experiment involving a kart, and tells Dingodile to flip the switch, while Tiny runs into the room and mistakenly squishes Dingodile with the door. A light shines through Cortex Castle and N. Gin believes Tiny had broken something.
Back at Crash's house, the bandicoots and Aku Aku see a bright light. Crash wakes up to find he has been teleported to Velo's Citadel. Cortex believes that Crash did this, and questions Crash on what he is trying to do to Cortex. Cortex is interrupted by Emperor Velo the 27th. He explains why they have been teleported, as he has been informed by his assistants that they have spotted the fastest racers on Earth. Velo informs them that if they don't race, Earth will be destroyed.
Cortex and Crash accept Velo's challenge and soon face Velo in the Galaxy Championship, and after beating Velo, he gets angry, but controls his temper and informs them that he is still going to destroy Earth since after beating him, they no longer want to race. They both request a rematch and if they win, they will be sent home free. Velo then gets angry again after being beaten twice, and blows up. They then discover that Velo was a robot, and they take the scepter. Velo then shows his true form, being much shorter. He then gives the scepter to Crash, and thinks about what he will do with the power. He imagines him changing the planet to look like his face and him sitting on Velo's throne, but rejects the idea and gives Velo back the scepter. Velo then sends them back home. Yet, Cortex takes the scepter and Velo wants it back. Tiny then threatens him, and Velo gives Cortex scepter. Cortex tries to raise the scepter to teleport them back to Earth, but the scepter brakes and they are sent to a different planet. N.Gin believes this is Earth, but Cortex sees Earth is just above the sky. They then discover they have been teleported to Terra, a copy of Earth. Tiny fixes the scepter and the Terrans on the planet bow down to him, much to Cortex's annoyance, but with the help of the Terrans, they return home.
When the race starts, the player can obtain items by running into crates and the items randomize depending on what position the player is in (ex: being in 1st place usually means the player will get a very weak item, such as a TNT, but say in 8th place, a much more effective weapon is obtained, such as an Aku Aku mask) . These weapons can be upgraded by smashing into a certain crates, giving you "Wumpa Fruit". When the player breaks these crates, Wumpa Fruit will be added to the counter. Getting 10 Wumpa Fruit will "juice up" the player, which upgrades weapons and increases speed. Doing so is important for a first place finish, along with the slide-boosting mechanic.
To slide-boost, press the hop button (either L1 or R1) and turn when while hopping. Hold the hop button, and a meter that will go from green to red will appear. When the meter goes up the red, press the opposite button (ex: If the player pressed R1 to hop, press L1 when the meter turns red). The player can also enter "zero gravity mode", which defies gravity on the track. However, it will slow the player down so it is recommended to power slide (slide-boost) on those areas.
Crash Nitro Kart got mixed to positive reviews. IGN gave it a mixed rating, calling it mediocre due to "having no innovation", and criticizing its long loading times. Fans gave this game very positive reviews, citing "a Crash game has never been made so true to its originals".