[i]Crash Bandicoot[/i] was [i]the[/i] PS1 game. If you didn’t have it, there was little point in owning a PS1.The sequel was even more impressive, and [i]Crash 3[/i] was bordering on perfection-for a PS1 platformer game, at least. Such a great legacy from the PS1… then it was marred forever by the PS2 debut of a Crash game: [i]The Wrath of Cortex[/i], an appalling game. Is [i]Twinsanity[/i] Crash’s saving throw?
In a word: no. It’s a Crash Bandicoot game, but not as you know it. Rather than having a mission-based hub like the old games, all the levels are linked as one long linear path. This is more than a little annoying, as it’s only much later in the game do you actually get to go back and retrieve anything you missed. Also, the Crash tradition of ‘smashing every crate in the level to get a gem’ is gone. Now, the gems are scattered about the levels and are collected like any other item. The gems now unlock bonus material. It’s all a load of crap.
The big change in gameplay is the fact that Dr. Cortex (the villain in all the previous games) is now used as a partner, but it amounts to nothing more than a weapon. Cortex’s cousin is also a playable character but adds nothing to the gameplay. Crash himself is no longer ‘upgradeable’-he has all the moves he will get, right at the start. While that might sound harmless, it’s a pretty big drain on the game; there’s no sense of accomplishment as you beat each boss. It’s ‘just another one down.’
So, the gem feature’s gone, and Crash starts with all his moves. This game isn’t looking very ‘Crash-like’ at all so far…
The soundtrack was never remarkable in the [i]Crash[/i] franchise, but it always managed to suit the theme of the level. In the case of the old boss fights, the music was pretty good. Now, it’s all bad-all of it. The music, in general, is messed-up tribal chanting, with the odd guitar riff and some occasional lyrics. This is a poor soundtrack with no saving merits. The voice actors are bearable, though Cortex tends to overact. Crash has become a mute; you no longer get that adorable ‘WOAH!’ as he kills himself. Oh well…
Graphics-wise, there are a lot of vibrant, cartoon-like colors. They do fit the theme of the game well, and I can’t really fault them (the ice sections in particular, as they have nice little warping effects when you see Crash through a sheet of ice). The animations are topnotch too, and the game responds as fast as you press the buttons. Everything handles sharply, and it’s nice to see Crash lolloping around with that stupid walk of his.
So what’s the big problem? It’s very hard in places. One section, which strikes you in particular, is an early bit in a cavern. It requires very good reflexes to get through. This wouldn’t be such a glaring problem if the game had a bit of balance to it, as the bosses are the easiest in the series. In a game that’s so clearly geared towards children, the difficulty should be much more balanced: bosses should be at the top of the difficulty chain, not random bits of switch-hitting.
I would recommend this game if you’ve got kids… but the sudden geared-up difficulties in places mean that anyone under 12-ish will struggle. This weird combination of immaturity and difficulty makes for a game that can only be half-enjoyed by kids.
If you’re after some solid platforming fun, then look elsewhere. [i]Jak 3[/i] is an excellent choice, as are [i]Crash Bandicoot 2[/i] and [i]3[/i].