You can't teach an old bandicoot new tricks...
Crash Bandicoot 2, the sequel to Sony's mascot game, Crash Bandicoot, is far from a gaming revolution. The first Crash was dauntingly similar to the 16-bit platform games of yester-yore, only with better graphics, and Crash 2 doesn't deviate much from this formula.
Most of you will be interested in what's new, and the biggest thing is the way levels are set out. Instead of being completely linear, you can choose between five different levels in each staging area. Another new addition (sorely lacking in Crash 1) is the ability to save between any level, at any time. Mr. Bandicoot has also been blessed with two new maneuvers. He can now belly flop and slide. Although these new additions may seem trivial, they are necessary in parts of the game and are integrated well. The coolest of the additions are the jetboard and the jetpack, which can be used to go over water and to fly, respectively. Still, my personal favorite is the baby bear that you can ride throughout levels (wait till you see Crash's expression when he gets on!). Other than the new levels, that is about all that's new.
The graphics in this game, like the first, are just awesome. There are no actual "cut-scenes", everything is rendered on the fly beautifully. From Crash's bellybutton to the teeth of Cortex, all the creatures have their own little details. This game could really set some new standards in Playstation graphic quality. It's no Super Mario 64, but it looks damn good. As does the animation -- to be honest, it's flawless. All the creatures, environments, and story building scenes are absolutely perfect. This game is, simply, of cartoon quality. Disney, eat your heart out. And with Clancy Brown (currently playing Sergeant Zim in "Starship Troopers") doing the hilarious satirical voice of Cortex, it seems even more like a cartoon.
The learning curve is wonderfully executed. The game begins extremely easily, where you'll learn the ropes. As you continue to progress, the levels get harder and harder, but it doesn't happen too quickly. The final levels are a challenge, and it goes up in difficulty as you go - a game truly for the masses.
And thank goodness Crash 2 didn't loose any of its snappy control or audio splendor established by its predecessor. Yet there is one thing that was added to this game that was unnecessary and evil. The cover of the game, unlike most Playstation covers, is this bizarre 3D design. When I first saw it at the Game Revolution offices, I was dazzled. After looking at it in my car for about 15 seconds, I contracted a massive headache. Is this a Sony mind control plot? (why yes, I have watched too many episodes of the X-files) We may never know, but be forewarned, the cover is a device of unprecedented agony!!
Still - the game is undeniably fun. Platform games have been favorites of legions of gamers ever since Super Mario Brothers in the early days of the NES. Running, jumping, and stomping on monsters has always, and still is, an enjoyable time. Crash Bandicoot 2doesn't add anything to the genre, neither did Crash Bandicoot 1, but they're still fun and are a nostalgic blast for those of us whose Nintendo's broke years ago...