" Crash, Smash. . ."
hit!!! The coming of Crash Bandicoot to the Playstation can be likened to the coming of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario. These games set new standards in the platform type game and helped drive their parent companies to great success. More importantly, from a marketing standpoint, they created new mascots that help with product identification and provide material for a series of new games. They can also be made into cartoons, put on lunchboxes, bedsheets, breakfast cereal, T-shirts, toothbrushes, and trading cards.
Feeling left out of this potential goldmine, here comes Sony with Crash Bandicoot for the Playstation. In the ever increasing system wars of the 90's new is not good enough. Each has to be better to equal or raise the standard previously set, as each system continuously evolves and advances to reach a peak that will never exist. So, amidst all the hype, and drama, is Crash Bandicoot worth it? The answer: a reserved yes.
Through Crash, the Playstation has advanced to another level of excellence. Everything is beautifully structured, with some of the best control I have ever seen or felt in a game. The graphics are smoother and crisper than previous Playstation titles. But as a platform game, it fails to achieve anything really new or revolutionary.
Before we go any further, Click Here to Find Out What A Bandicoot Is.
Crash Bandicoot has the average platform storyline. Evil villain Dr.N is changing animals into his genius minions, but something went wrong and they are all crazy. His biggest failure was Crash, a bandicoot who actually began to recognize that what Dr.N was doing actually wrong, and set out to stop him. On top of this, Dr.N's next victim is Crash's kidnapped girlfriend Tawna. Save Tawna and the forest from Dr.N's evil ( ! ). In this game, the male and female bandicoot look about as similar as Roger and Jessica rabbit.
The game is mapped out very similar to Donkey Kong Country, several islands to be explored with mini sections in each. You have ability to go back and explore previous levels, with similar bonus rounds and powerups. Bonus rounds have a special importance because they are one of only two ways to obtain a password or save point. There is only one type of powerup, an old Maori mask that protects you much the way the shield does in Sonic the Hedgehog, but it works well enough for the game.
There are several secret passageways and shortcuts, and excellent music and beautiful sound effects that enhance the overall play experience. Like Donkey Kong Country, the length and replay value are there. With 32 levels, I was only 20% through the game as I hit the second island, thinking, boy, I get to do that 4 more times? Cool. Although the bosses are relatively easy, the levels are a great challenge. Crash seldom brings you to the point of frustration, unless you haven't saved your game for a long time.
Graphically, Crash is gem with definitely the best time-exact scaling I ever remember seeing. I mean it is amazing to see yourself gain or lose momentum in all 3 dimensions, based on all the dips and curves of a 3-D landscape while frantically running from a 20 ton boulder! Although slight movement of camera angles would have been a definite plus ( at times the ground itself is at 75 degree angle while Crash constantly moves at 90 degrees, putting a slight strain on the eyes). The 3-D levels are spectacular. The precision of texture-mapping was awesome and the shading was almost too well done. It actually made the game more difficult because at times the pits look like shadows, and vice-versa. The polygon movements were very smooth and fluid, and Crash's quirky mannerisms are always refreshing. The backgrounds are breathtakingly beautiful, especially the waterfall stages. Graphically, it's scaling technology stands out as the new standard for Playstation action games the same way SGI did for 16-bitters after Donkey Kong Country.
Now, for the goooood part: The control. Although the graphics will help make Crash a smash hit, the precise control propels Crash's status from above-average to legend. Although ever so basic in its premise, it is always the hardest part of a game to perfect. Crash Bandicoot exhibits possibly some of the best control yet: He can cut on a dime , and seems to have anti-lock brakes in his in his shoes. There are no problems with inertia, excessive momentum, slipping, sliding, or having to get on the tip of an object to make a complete jump (Crash has big-time HOPS!). It's actually fun to go through those stages that are full of previously annoying bounces or jumps that must be precisely timed. The control gives you a certain amount of confidence and ease in making a jump. The control is also very easy to get accustomed to (I have already been spoiled by it) and greatly enhances the fun factor and replay value. You will find yourself complaining about how the game cheated and how Crash took an unnecessary step.
Crash employs the basic dual jump/spin attacks, but with a new twist. You have to employ some strategy in using them. The spin is the most dependable attack, just like the Tasmanian devil, and you can often spin an enemy into another one, and/or into crates for powerups. Cool, right? Well some enemies can use the spin against you and cause you to ricochet into something else or even off the screen. Also when destroying crates with spin, you can spin valuable powerups off the screen, or ignite boxes of TNT that's will leave nothing behind except your shoes. So jumping gives you the most advantages, right? Well, certain enemies can kill you while you're jumping at them, so learn carefully and choose wisely.
This game is a great platformer and the backgrounds are 3-D (you can maneuver between the foreground, and background). However, Crash Bandicoot never really evolves past an advanced 'side-scroller' even though you are given the opportunity to explore whole levels. The game is still strictly linear. A true 3-D environment would have added an new dimension of gameplay much the way Nights just did for Saturn. This game is also just itching for a 2-player option to push Crash to even greater heights, although I have no idea how they'd pull it off without using the Donkey Kong Country method of switching players, this improvement would be warmly accepted in a sequel (Naughty Dog--Hint,Hint).
Other small changes, like a moving or smoother camera feature, a larger variety of powerups like warps, speed/jump boosts and maybe even projectiles (okay,okay. . . ), and perhaps some new innovations like a run/dash feature are just going to have to wait for the sequel. Naughty Dog has the same potential to build on Crash the way Sega continues to do with Sonic, and Nintendo with Mario.
Basically, I recommend... no, urge you to buy this game. Golf fans, this means you. Despite a lack of originality, it is fun to play, large enough to keep you occupied, and the best platformer out right now. Bottom line, this game is the beginning of a new character who will probably become a classic video game figure. It will also be the first in a series of Crash games and products. What was the first thing you did when Independence Day came out? Saw it. And when you saw the Chia pet commercial? Bought it. (just a joke--hee,hee). I think you get the point--now, go get the game.