“Crash. Coco. If you have already retrieved a level's crystal, then you will find a floating clock when you enter for the second time - this floating clock activates Time Trial mode. Grab it and the clock will start ticking. Race for the end to get the best time, but beware... some elements will change.”
—Aku Aku describing Time Trial mode, Crash Bandicoot: Warped
Time Trial is a mode that was first introduced in Crash Bandicoot: Warped, and was later featured in Crash Team Racing, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, Crash Nitro Kart, and will return in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
In this mode, the player must race against the clock to the end of the level, and will then be rewarded with a relic depending on how fast it was managed to completed, Sapphire being the easiest, Gold being tougher and Platinum being the hardest. Touching the stopwatch at the beginning of a level (which becomes available once the power crystal has been collected in said level) starts the time trial. For platforming levels, it's possible to shoot the clock with the Fruit Bazooka to save a few seconds. For the secret levels that don't have Crystals, Time Trial mode is possible at the first entry. Once the time trial has started, a counter will appear at the bottom left and the text "Entering Time Trial" will appear for a couple of seconds in the platformer games (excluding the GBA ones, where the text does not show up). In the racing games, the player chooses whether or not to do a time trial before the race, in which the counter replaces the player's lap times and a box counter appears at the top telling how many time boxes have been broken. If all boxes are broken, the player is awarded a 10 second discount at the end of the trial.
When the time trial starts, in the platformer games, time boxes will replace some of the original crates on the level, such as Aku Aku Crates, TNT Crates and even Nitro Crates (the last two only happen in The Wrath of Cortex). In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, The Huge Adventure and N-Tranced the bonus platform will disappear, but all others stay, whereas in Wrath of Cortex all special platforms including death route platforms will vanish. All current Aku Aku masks the player has will disappear in Warped, The Huge Adventure and N-Tranced, but they are kept in Wrath of Cortex, making some relics easier.
In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, the Box Counter in the status bar and at the end of the level does not disappear, making it possible to get a gem and a relic at the same time in some levels. One notable example is that in Road Crash, it's unnecessary to run for the gem separately; as all the boxes in this level become time boxes in time trial mode, the gem can be the by-product of the relic run. In Wrath of Cortex, both the box counter from the HUD and at the end of the level disappear. In The Huge Adventure and N-Tranced, the box counter at the end of the level disappears, but the one in the status bar does not.
- In the beta version, Time Trials in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped would originally be started by breaking a crate and not collecting a stopwatch.
- In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, two of the levels (Hang Eight and Plant Food) have hidden Time Trials with Gems as prizes. It's possible that this hidden feature received good feedback, and therefore Naughty Dog decided to make this a full feature in its successor, and furtherly, Vicarious Visions decided to make this a full feature in the first two games of the remake Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
- The NTSC-U version of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped includes Developer Times, which are the developers' own records for each time trial. These are not included in the PAL and NTSC-J versions of the game, due to timing differences between them.