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Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PlayStation) artwork

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PlayStation) review

"Can you bear it? That's the test "

If the genre of platform gaming was a career path, then the President would obviously Mario. Rare's efforts would make them brain surgeons and other decent platformers like Spyro, crash and rocket would be successful business men. Where does Croc stand you ask? Well let's go through it's life story. It started off in school as a bright idea, attempting to topple Mario from his throne (In theory) but it was so lazy, uninspired and riddled with unforgivable faults that it only managed to obtain the position of 'guy who massages toilet cleaner's feet'.

Yes, for all the hype surrounding Croc you'd at least think it would be fun, if not revolutionary. A linear platformer with not one hint of variety, Croc fails to attempt anything beyond disappointment. It's certainly not unplayable, but with what has to be some of the worst flaws ever seen in a platform game it comes pretty close.

The story of Croc isn't a bad one. Riding up to Gobbo Village as a baby crocodile in a basket, Croc is taken in by the Gobbo's, who are fascinated by him. They raise him until he is huge, then something AWFUL happens! You'd never guess it, but a large lizard like villain called Baron Dante comes up to imprison the Gobbos (Sickly little furballs who do nothing but squeal, you'd think they'd be better off in their cages) for no other reason other that they were happy. King gobbo calls some bird to come up and fly Croc away, knowing he'll be their only hope of escaping.

Not exactly groundbreaking I know, but at least there's a backstory in there before the villain came along. To play Croc (subtitled Legend of the Gobbos, although mysteriously no legend is present) however, is considerably less satisfying. Stealing Sonic's ring health system (where you collect rings, or gems in this case, and lose them all when you get hurt, free to gather up as many as you can before they fade away) didn't exactly put me in favor of the game. I've always found this method to be cruel and exasperating, and also the diabolical controls prevent you from picking up more than 2 lost gems anyway.

There isn't anything special about Croc at all. It's just a case of trundling along through 3d levels picking up gems, killing enemies and finding Gobbos from their cages. I know you may say most platformers can be described is a simple way such as this, but that really is IT. You don't have to do anything to release the Gobbos from cages apart from get the key. Sometimes you must go further in the level where the key is in plain sight, and then travel back to the cage, that's it really. Not that collecting Gobbo's is essential to the gameplay anyway, although there are a fair few secret levels to uncover.

Did I say 3-d levels? Sorry! I really meant crash Bandicoot style corridors with occasional square fields or caves without the fast paced gameplay or excellent design. Croc's level design is about as generic as it gets, move forward kill an enemy, jump on a moving/crumbling platform then repeat. There aren't any tricky moments of evading cleverly positioned obstacles or the interesting challenges that were seen in Crash Bandicoot either. It really is depressing to play.

Another of Croc's many mistakes is it's obsessive need to fill it's corridor levels with moving platforms. And Croc (The character) has the tiniest and vaguest of shadows, often making landing on a moving platform complete luck. It doesn't have nearly enough enemy combat either, although the questionable collision detection makes fighting a little bit of a chore. But it would be nice to be able to do something other than jump across moving platforms and leap over rivers of lava. Collecting all five coloured gems in a level will open up a bonus game at the end, these are diverting but hardly highlights (The old 'put an item under one of three boxes and then try and keep track of the box as all three move around' game is present). At best this uninspired but technically playable (It's strangely compelling at times, and uncovering the secrets WILL provide satisfaction) could reach a 5/10 but something ruins it.

Control. This is the worst control ever experienced in a platform game. Rather than sensibly opting for a normal 'push that way on the D-pad/analogue stick and your character will move that way' technique, developers Argonaut have, bafflingly, gone for a Resident Evil-style 'rotate your character in the direction you want to move and then press forwards' system. With all the precision jumping over constantly moving platforms and erupting rivers of fire, you can imagine that this is something of a nightmare. I never liked RE's control method in the first place, but in a platformer, and one based around agility at that, it is unacceptable. Also the controls are annoyingly slow. there is a noticeable delay between the pressing of X and the jumping of Croc. Again, when you spend the whole game jumping over dangerous terrain this isn't exactly ideal.

Croc's quite the looker though. The characters are pretty well animated (although the 'eyes balancing on top of head = cute equation is overused and gets tiresome). The four worlds are all varied in style, if rather stereotypical. As I said the level design is utterly tedious. No variety in gameplay means no interesting looking levels. They all look fine, but green pasture after green pasture gets very boring after 8 or so levels. Same with icy cliff after icy cliff and so on. the worlds may vary from each other, but the levels within them are indistinguishable from each other. The framerate is quite impressive though. It has some dodgy playstation texture problems, but otherwise it looks 'fine' and runs at a good speed.

Croc's music is fantastic. It's cheerfully cartoony, light-heartedly atmospheric and often very catchy. It's sometimes a little to 'nice' but I'll forgive it that as it's always top quality. The sound effects are fine. A tinkle when you collect a gem, a bounce when you jump, and so on. The voice samples are infuriating though, Croc will constantly scream 'Yazoo!' and 'Wahey!' in a voice that makes me suspect that, even if he has grown to be a giant, he hasn't reached puberty yet.

It's a long game too, there are some 32 levels to get through if you can be bothered. and that's not including the secret levels in each world OR the secret world itself. there's a lot to uncover in Croc, but what for? So you can jump over even MORE floating platforms? No thanks. Also, due to the control this jaw-droppingly simple game will be made frustrating difficult. And those are the wrong reasons for a game to be hard.

So then. Croc is ever so nearly acceptably average, but the control completely sinks it. Unless you are some kind of platform maniac then I'd suggest going for something else. The playstation has plenty of quality platformers so why go for this dull repetitive and badly programmed clone?

+ Occasionally compelling
+ Surprisingly rewarding
+ Not completely terrible. It's playable
+ good music
+ Well animated and colourful
+ It's very big

Croc of crap
- Abysmal control system. you'll never get the hang of it
- Terribly dull level design
- Filled with boring platformer cliches, with nothing to hide it
- No variety in gameplay
- Irritating voice samples (I looked in the manual credits. The man you must hunt down is Johnathon Aris)
- Linear, and laborious. Not a good mix
- Can you bear it? That's the test

maxh's avatar
Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)

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