Just the two of us.
Poor Dr. Neo Cortex. Time after time he develops some insidious plot to take over the world, only to get beaten and humiliated by Crash Bandicoot. But what sucks for the doctor has always been the best part of the Crash games, since the mascot is somewhat bereft of personality.
There was a time when Crash looked like Sony’s answer to Mario and Sonic, but unlike those two famous icons, the furry little guy never managed to put it all together. And while hurting, smashing and humiliating Dr. Neo simply doesn’t get old, most of Crash Twinsanity does. This standard third-person platform romp might get the humor right, but it gets everything else pretty boring.
The "Twinsanity" part of the title references Crash and Dr. Neo’s extra special relationship in the game. This time around, they are forced to help one another in order to defeat a pair of aliens attempting to take over the land by killing off Crash and stealing Cortex’s, well, cortex.
Twinsanity‘s humor is right on, from the opening moments when Dr. Neo Cortex dresses in drag to the decisively strange love/hate relationship shared between Neo and Crash throughout the game. While this odd couple is rolling around fighting, you might just see them stop long enough for Neo to give naughty little Crash a spanking. It’s uncomfortable, but damn funny.
For the most part, Twinsanity plays like most of the other recent Crash games. The bulk of the game sees you playing as Crash, collecting fruit, jumping over pits and using that patented bandicoot spin to wipe out baddies. Expect tons of platform puzzles and the like. Nothing shocking here.
Twinsanity mixes it up a little, though, by forcing the two old enemies to work together. At various points in the game, Crash and Neo become cuffed to one another via a power gem, leading to a variety of new gameplay mechanics.
Being paired up is both a boon and a liability, enabling a few more attacks and moves but restricting Crash’s basic move set. The joint spin attack is wider with a greater attack reach, and instead of a double jump, Crash must toss Neo toward distant platforms and right into the heart of danger. Crash can also slam Neo like a rag doll for a stronger attack that can destroy iron crates. The buddy system offers a refreshing take on the typical Crash gameplay.
The level design varies between classic scrolling affairs and wide-open spaces with similar linear intentions. It’s fairly typical of the Bandicoot series and works well to mix up the action. However, the game is still pretty inconsistent. For example, at one point Crash and Neo are tumbling and fighting in a big ball, leading to a rolling sequence straight out of Super Monkey Ball. While a nice change of pace, this can be frustrating thanks some broken points in the environments that you can slip through or find yourself trapped in.
More importantly, the game doesn’t always flow smoothly. This is often a result of the needlessly frustrating checkpoints/save point system. Save points are sometimes spaced too far apart; if you lose all your lives, you lose all your checkpoint progress and will have to start from your last save. This means you’ll often have to repeat segments a few times. Plenty of extra lives are scattered about to counter this issue, but that’s more of a design crutch than anything.
The graphics are pretty typical for the Crash Bandicoot series. The main characters look nice and there are little visual flourishes here and there, such as some neat ice reflections and smooth animations for large bosses, but as a whole, the look isn’t particularly notable. The PS2 version features a shakier framerate than the more solid Xbox version, although both look largely the same overall. It’s an adequate job.
Regardless of the version, the music rocks. It’s a combination of jungle, pop and a barbershop quartet and is thoroughly weird and catchy. The quirky approach to the composition helps give the game its attitude.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t really live up to the promise of its humor. Crash Twinsanity is a decent game and offers a few neat tweaks to its classic formula, but in general does very little to break the mold of its predecessors. Twins aren’t very unique, you know.