"Surely bandicoot fans will be disappointed with this brief rehash of all thing Crash. It's not a bad game by any means, it's good fun in most places. But it has so many factors spoiling this fun that it can't possibly be as enjoyable as it should. "
Surely bandicoot fans will be disappointed with this brief rehash of all thing Crash. It's not a bad game by any means, it's good fun in most places. But it has so many factors spoiling this fun that it can't possibly be as enjoyable as it should.
The story is extremely simple. Cortex has invented a ray to shrink the earth and he has used it. That's it. As Crash, you must travel across twenty levels to collect 20 crystals and defeat Cortex. This, apparently, will return the earth to it's normal size.
But every single Crash platformer has had a plot which ends in 'and then cortex was defeated' so this game's story is hardly disappointing, it's just rather routine. The problem is developers Vicarious Visions haven't taken advantage of the plot. Some pretty cool level and boss ideas could be extracted from the 'small world' formula. Crash's 3 and 4 both took advantages of their plot in this manner, so why couldn't this game?
Why? Because it's too busy shamelessly aping the previous crash games. Now when I say aping I don't mean 'not changing the formula' as we saw in the PS2 incarnation. I mean duplicating level themes, enemies and actual pieces of level design from Crash Bandicoot 2. Even the music is just a digitised replica of Crash 2's, and two of the bosses are straight ports from Crash 2.
And while this doesn't necessarily make it less enjoyable, it will just seem too stale for Crash fans. Crash: Wrath of Cortex at least had new level ideas and enemy designs. The next big problem is that the GBA can NOT recreate the absorbing level set pieces and moments of perfect timing as well as they could on a console. And these tense challenges and clever pieces of level design are what made the Crash Bandicoot games so exciting. Here they are gone.
Now, this wouldn't be such a bad thing if vicarious visions just tried to create a platformer that worked in 2D, one that would be just as fun on the GBA. Instead they carried on trying to recreate the feel of the PS's crash games. But without the aforementioned highlights, all you're left with is the tired scarps of a platform game, the same scraps you'll see everywhere else. It's more playable than the average platformer, as it does have SOME fun moments, such as the polar bear chase, which is an exact copy of that bit in crash 2 where you are riding on a baby polar bear to get away from a bigger polar bear. And the flying levels which see you flying into the screen shooting baddies helps to add some spice.
But the real meat of the game is in the time trials and gem collecting. The main game has only 20 puny levels and I finished it off in a pitiful 70 minutes, but I spent another three hours or so getting relics from the time trials and gems from finding and smashing every box. The slow, meticulous plodding through of the levels when trying to get every box when put in contrast with the frantic high speed sprints through on time trial provide some welcome changes in pace to the main game. And receiving these shiny objects for your efforts are very rewarding. It may not have the slick, compulsive dynamic that the other games do, but it has the same excellent sense of progress and reward.
As well as content issues and a shocking lack of challenge, Crash Bandicoot has decidedly dodgy controls. All his old moves are here, from the spin attack to the double jump, so crash fans will be happy with that. The problem is they are so random. There is a noticeable delay between the pushing of A and the jumping of crash in some places, but not in others, and sometimes the game will refuse to let you perform a double jump. And sometimes an enemy will kill you when it's not even touching you! the randomness of these events is what is most frustrating. If there was always a delay in your jump, then you could learn to time your jumps so they accommodated that fact, but you just have to stab randomly at the GBA and hope for the best. My last gripe with the controls is the fact that you have to hold the L button in order to do the 'Crash Dash' move. It is basically another name for 'running really fast' and it is essential that it is held down through the entire level when you are doing time trials. The developers should have realised that holding down the L button for the entire duration of a level is unbearably uncomfortable. It made both my hands go numb every single time, surely not a good thing.
There's no denying that the game is an absolute stunner though. As with Spyro, Universal have obviously allowed for a lengthy development period and a lot of money to be lavished upon this major franchise, and it shows. It looks basically as good as the 2D sections in the normal games. Perhaps the most impressive part is the animation. Crash performs moves with the same energy and fluidity as he always has and the enemy sprites look the part as well. The game's levels may be directly stolen, but that doesn't stop them from being incredibly detailed and colourful. Vicarious Visions have succeeded in shrinking down Crash's world without losing anything important.
So really, Crash is a fun game. The main game lacks the enthusiasm and intelligence that make it's predecessors so engrossing, but it's still well designed and (just about) falls on the right side of average. And the gem collecting and time trial modes help add some fun and make it just a little more challenging. But still not challenging enough, the game lasts barely four hours, and hardly any of it is actually difficult.
But you have to understand, the paragraph above is just me trying to find justification for my purchase of the game. I would not advise you to buy it. If you can rent GBA games wherever you are, then sure, it's fun enough to spend that kind of money on and it's short length makes it the perfect rental. But the lack of challenge and distinct gameplay make this one to stay away from otherwise.
+ Decent enough level designs and bosses
+ Time Trial mode and Gem collecting mode are worth the time and effort, and are very satisfying
+ Some good dashes of variety
+ The gameplay is generally fun enough to hold your attention
+ Successful attempt at shrinking down the sounds of Crash
+ Gorgeous graphics
Not all it's crashed up to be
- Nearly everything is (quite literally) stolen from other Crash games
- Except the best parts of them have been left out
- Far too short
- Awkward, random controls
If you like this...
Spyro: Season of Ice - GBA: If you want to see a major playstation platforming franchise handled with more care, take a look at this
Crash Bandicoot: Warped - PS: The best Crash game of them all, an energetic, exhilarating and immensely satisfying platformer
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of cortex - PS2: Surprisingly good PS2 update of the Crash series.
Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)
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