What the heck is a Bandicoot?
Every dog has its day, and every major console has its mascot. Like professional sports, any serious competition needs comic relief. Sega has Sonic, Nintendo has Mario, and Sony has Crash Bandicoot. Starring in three great platform titles already, Sony has decided to pass the developing ball to Eurocom for their first shot at letting Crash into the arena of multi-player party games. If you don't recognize the name Eurocom, they're the ones who brought us such gaming "gems" as War Gods and Mortal Kombat 4. Snicker, snicker.
Crash Bash follows the footsteps of Mario Party by supporting 1-4 players (via multi-tap) in an all-out frenzy of twitchy thumbs and screams of frustration and defeat as well as cackles of victory.
Multi-player is what this game is all about, though you are forced to play the single-player missions in order to unlock the levels. The upside to this is that after playing the CPU in what seems like hundreds of rounds, it'll be easy to open that can of whoop-ass on your buddies.
The games range from just plain zany to totally nuts. There's "Ballistics," which is a frenzied mix of pinball and Hungry, Hungry Hippos. There's "Pogo Pandemonium," a throwback to the days of Q-Bert. "Crate Crush" plays like Poy-Poy, having you run around the arena throwing crates at one other. While not very deep, these games, along with many others, are nifty little diversions.
The single-player "adventure" mode pits you against three AI opponents in a series of battles across 7 arenas. Each arena has four variations that are different enough to just about call it a new game; this equals a total of 28 levels of mayhem, which should be enough to keep your gaming party going until your mom gets bent and kicks all of your friends to the curb.
Win the specified number of rounds, and earn a prize. The prizes start in trophy form, and by opening greater challenges in the same arenas, you earn gems, stones, and eventually gold and platinum relics.
Frankly, playing against the computer just isn't that much fun, but again, you need to do it to open up levels for multi-play. I'm not thrilled with this setup.
There are also Boss matches mixed in for a little more variety. Pitting you against such foes as Papu-Papu, Big Bad Fox and the Bearminator, the Boss matches are fairly challenging, recreating the feel of the boss fights of old-school platformers.
Several of your mixed-up mates from Down-Under are present - Rilla-Roo, Dingodile, and Koala-Kong make appearances, as well as a few of your buddies from the far reaches of wherever Dr. Neo-Cortex is from, not to mention that tiki mask, Aku-Aku, and his tiki nemesis, Uka- Uka. In fact, it's the ultimate clash of good tiki vs. evil tiki that has caused this whole mess in the first place.
The graphics are bright and vibrant, as would be expected from a title starring that loveable little Bandicoot. Eurocom did a great job retaining the feel of the Crash world... kudos for that. Each level has a look all its own, from snow to sand to futuristic pinball tables. There is no shortage of environments.
The control can feel a little sluggish at times, and the three-quarter view leaves blind spots in certain levels. But after a few rounds, the control "problems" are hardly noticeable, and you eventually adjust to the blind spots. CB becomes an extremely competitive game if you learn to use these elements to your advantage by blocking the other player's view or forcing them into awkward positions. Not that it's a particularly honorable gameplay technique.
Crash Bash takes advantage of Sony's mod-chip detection, so if you have a mod-chip in your PSX, you will not be able to play this game without a Gameshark and the enable code. Drat...foiled again!
Overall, Crash Bash is a blast for multi-player parties, but as a single-player game it leaves something to be desired. Playing through the adventure mode to unlock levels can feel more like a chore than entertainment. However, the sheer variety of games will entertain most any party for hours on end (or at least until the beer runs out.)