Crime Crackers (PlayStation) review
"If there is one thing the classic FPS title Doom did not need it was a bunch of numbers, but evidently someone in Japan thought differently. Import-only PlayStation launch title Crime Crackers is essentially a ‘Doom RPG’ full of first-person shooting, mazes, keys, and a bunch of stats. It sounds like a mildly interesting combination except it’s been ruined by poor level design and gimped shooting mechanics. "
If there is one thing the classic FPS title Doom did not need it was a bunch of numbers, but evidently someone in Japan thought differently. Import-only PlayStation launch title Crime Crackers is essentially a ‘Doom RPG’ full of first-person shooting, mazes, keys, and a bunch of stats. It sounds like a mildly interesting combination except it’s been ruined by poor level design and gimped shooting mechanics.
Crime Crackers is about two typical underage anime girls – one red-haired the other blonde – and a giant lizard alien who fly around space catching intergalactic criminals. Thanks to my inability to read moonrunes and the non-existence of a translation patch, that’s about all I know about the story. The presentation is barebones with plot progression occurring through gigantic talking heads barfing up epic tomes of kanji that likely deal with the same crap JRPGs have been for years. I like to pretend the game has a more Kafka-esque plot where the giant lizard alien used to be a man but he woke up one morning as an alien. Now he roams the wastelands of space with his lolita companions tracking down the scum of the universe because deep down they’re a reflection his own self-loathing and despair. Or maybe he’s just a creepy alien who hangs out with little girls.
After you’ve sat through Kafka-alien’s monologue about the pains of being scaly and poo-colored, you’re ready to start shooting outerspace banditos. Immediately you’ll note every room, door, and hallway look exactly the same. Attempts to bring up the map on the status screen are usually met with an angry buzzing, indicating some unknown prerequisite hasn’t been met to utilize this necessary tool. I still have no idea what you’re supposed to do to unlock it. If the mazes don’t get to you, the serenade of cheesy, 30 second 80’s guitar riffs that loop for infinity will.
The levels are filled with polygonal robots and other such laser cannon fodder. One of the three characters can be swapped in at any time. The red-haired girl uses weak, rapid-fire guns while the lizard totes a slow-firing cannon that inflicts greater damage. The blonde girl carries a katana to inflict close-range damage without costing ammo. You’ll use her often because ammo is scarce.
Unfortunately the combination of poor level design and crappy mechanics ruins the shooting in Crime Crackers. The game was made back when the PlayStation controller had a lone d-pad. As a result you cannot move and shoot simultaneously. A quick press of a button brings up target reticule allowing you to aim, but locks you in place. The shoulder buttons allow for strafing while firing, but most of the game’s rooms are cramped, narrow corridors where that isn’t an option. You’re only hope is to mash both shoulder buttons initiate a defensive stance. Of course you cannot shoot while defending. As a result, Crime Crackers boils down to wandering down a hallway and constantly swapping between shooting and mashing the shoulder buttons before your opponent’s energy ray reaches you. This tactic is especially frustrating when you’re stuck swinging your katana 2 inches away from the enemy.
Being inspired by 90’s FPS titles, Crime Crackers involves a lot of finding keys in its mazes, and somehow even this is poorly executed. Most games would unlock doors for you as long as you had a key, but not Crime Crackers. Here you’ll need to stop, open your inventory, select a key, and slowly move a key icon over the door. Perhaps this would be tolerable had levels not housed multiple keys. Often it’s difficult to tell which one to use. It would have been helpful to have visually striking cues on their door & key schemes like various colors, numbers, etc. Crime Crackers uses quirky symbols that are extremely difficult to make out on its low-resolution textures. Have you ever been given someone’s key ring and you end up trying every key to open a door? That’s Crime Crackers.
When you finally finish a level, you’re met with an incredibly frustrating boss fight that I could only best with ample save state abuse. These bosses have far too much HP and the gimped shooting mechanics will be your downfall. If you’re really good, you’ll finish the level and be awarded some spacebucks, new yen or whatever to buy new equipment and items (i.e. your sole RPG elements).
Crime Crackers is a terrible game. It was a half-baked attempt at getting Japanese early adopters of the PlayStation to buy something vaguely resembling a role-playing game. The concept on a ‘Doom RPG’ may sound appealing to some, but this 16 year old title has only gotten worse with age. The developers – Media.Vision – later went on to create the Wild Arms series and a Crime Crackers sequel that I was lead to believe is far superior. Play one of those instead.
Community review by Genj (October 02, 2010)
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