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Bandicoot Power!

Posted by Aegis On July - 21 - 2011 3 Comments

Crash Bandicoot is becoming a very underrated and forgotten franchise. Back when it was at it’s glory days, people praised it for being one of it’s kind. It introduced aspects of gameplay nobody has seen before and basically defined the very pinnacle of 3D platforming games. Taking obvious inspiration from games like Mario and Donkey Kong Country, Crash gives you more than a simple platforming game. It’s action-adventure like style makes you feel like Indiana Jones when you outrun boulders, or feel like Lara Croft when you infiltrate ancient ruins. A lot of style and variety of places our little orange friend visits makes up for the very talented designers of the game: Naughty Dog’s Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin. The old Crash franchise was a childhood staple of my early gaming, and I’m still riding polar bears and eating tons of Wumpa fruits even to this day. Let’s dive into the first 5 Crash games for the PS1, shall we?

CRASH BANDICOOT 1

 The first game is probably the hardest of Crash games, due to it’s stiff controls and awkward saving system. However, once you master the handling of the orange wacko, you can basically flow through the next 2 games with ease.

So we start out with the ol’ cliche plot line of most video games. Crash has to go around 3 Australian islands looking for his girlfriend, Twana, who has been captured by the demented Dr. Neo Cortex and his assistant, Nitrus Brio. To complete each level, you must simply get to the goal area. Simple, right? Well, the cunning traps and dangerous foes say otherwise. There are crates and other special boxes scattered throughout the level that Crash can break with his Spin Attack. They usually contain Wampa Fruits, the Crash Bandicoot version of Mario’s coins (get 100 for an extra life). Other items include Aku Aku, an ancient protective floating mask that protects Crash. Collect one Aku Aku mask for 1 hit invulnerability, two Aku Aku masks for 2 hit invulnerability, and three Aku Aku masks to have short invincibility for a couple of seconds.

The first Crash game doesn’t have a wide variety of moves for our marsupiel unlike the sequels, so you’ll have to live without them and just use your Spin Attack for defense. This is what ups the difficulty level, as some jumps are barely impossible to grasp.

Crash 1′s levels have environments that grasp either a Jungle, Ruins, or Factory concept, sort of related to Donkey Kong Country. The first levels combine the first two to make Crash’s homeland a sacred place for ancient peoples and relics. You even at one point ride on a warthog through a Native village. The design and themes of the levels are very well done, giving them lively color and a whole lot of detail. If you’re an art fanatic, you should definitely pay attention to the level design. Naughty Dog, the developing company of Crash, certainly did a good job of expressing what kind of graphics the PS1 can create. The 3D like environments can be breath-taking from when Crash is up on a mountain or when he’s way up in Cortex’s Machinery Room. Everything looks neat and orderly, but the camera sometimes is a little shaky and sometimes can lose focus on Crash. Overall, it can simply re-focus back in a matter of seconds.

Crash with some skunks!

Bonus Rounds are scattered throughout most of the levels, but in order to get to a Bonus Stage, Crash must collect 3 character panels. If Crash collects 3 of his girlfriend’s panel, he can go to the regular Bonus Stage. If he collects 3 Brio panels, he’ll go to a harder Bonus Stage for a secret gem or key. If he collects 3 Cortex panels, he can get something special at the end. Speaking of gems, if Crash brakes every single crate in the level (including the Bonus Stage’s crates), then he can get a Silver Gem or Colored Gem. Color Gems are important for unlocking secrets to levels that have unreachable crates or secrets.

The music in Crash is somewhat vague. It contains soft melodic beats that give it a Jungle-like feel, with Indian chants and bongos playing in the background. Soft levels like the Creeks give a fluent piano session. However, Crash’s true “rock” style of music wouldn’t appear until the next game.

Once you beat this game, you’ll want to play it again. There is so much to do in Crash Bandicoot, whether it is beating a secret level or getting those Gems. You’ll want to experience climbing up vines or avoiding hot machinery pipes again when you beat it the first time. I did. I’ve had this game ever since it came out and i’m still playing it today.

 

CRASH BANDICOOT 2

The sequel to Crash Bandicoot was a start for this rising franchise. The game had new tasks, better graphics, and more secrets. The story this time? After Crash defeats Cortex in Crash 1, Cortex plummets down to the islands to crash into a cave filled with Crystals. Cortex discovers the power of the Crystals and plots out a new plan to take over the world. A year later, Cortex, with his new sidekick, Dr. N. Gin, are planning to make an incredible and deadly weapon, but are halted when Cortex only has the Master Crystal. They need 25 more “Slave Crystals” in order for their plans to work. Since Crash defeated all of Cortex’s minions in the last game, Cortex captures Crash and insists that he has turned over a new leaf and wants Crash to bring him crystals to “save the world”. Stuck in Cortex’s Warp Rooms, Crash has no choice but to gather the crystals in all of the Warp Room’s levels.

Crash must go to every single level a Warp Room has to offer and gather a Slave Crystal. To do that, you simply have to find it in the level and get to the goal. Gems are back from the first game as well, and as before, are obtained if Crash gets every single crate in the level (including the hidden parts and Bonus Rounds). Speaking of Bonus Rounds, Crash can get to a Bonus by finding a platform marked with an “?” rather than having to find 3 icons like before. AND THANK THE LORD that there’s a stable save system in the game. Unlike the first game where you could only save by getting a Gem or completing a Warp Room, you can save ANYTIME by standing in front of the save panal in the Warp Room. This automatically makes Crash 2 superior in the fact that now you can save your data without any problem at all!

There are new enemies in the game, and unlike the first game, most of them have some sort of defense on them that only a certain move Crash initiates can kill them. For instance, if a turtle has spikes on it’s side, Crash can spin or slide into them. He has to jump on it’s shell, then spin it. This offers a new brand of strategy into the game because you have to think of your consequences against enemies! New boxes, such as the Nitro Crate, which will cause Crash to explode with even a single touch, which adds a more dangerous obstacle into the mix. Aku Aku masks make their return as well.

New environments have arrived as well. While there are still Jungle and Stream themes, we are introduced to Snow, Sewers, and even Space in this game. Crash also has new variety of moves that instantly makes up for the stiff gameplay in Crash 1, such as the Sliding Attack, Crouching Jump, and Body Slam to break down hard-to-break crates. More moves equals more fun! Also, unlike in the first game, Crash 2 has an awesome feature that if you die while you spun open a Checkpoint box, you won’t lose the crates you have broken earlier. ANOTHER great improvement from the debut game. The levels in this game are longer and have more challenge put into it. There are many secrets that you have to uncover to get 100%, and that requires getting special Colored Gems and other tasks. Some parts of the later levels took me a lot of time to complete. Getting every single Crate in a level can be hard, especially because some of them are really well hidden. The Boss fights aren’t really super hard, but the boss battles with Tiny and N. Gin proved to be a challenge because you have to think quickly with your movements. Overall, not a super-hard game, but presents challenge.

The music in Crash 2 is some of the most well composed material i’ve ever heard. My most memorable is probably the space themed one with the jet-pac. A space symphony, I call it! Honorable mentions go to the Boulders theme too. There’s just something oddly funny about it though…maybe it’s because it’s too serious to be played when an orange bandicoot is pretending to be Indiana Jones…who knows? I’m weird like that.

CRASH BANDICOOT 3

This was the game that defined Crash, and unfortunately, is probably the only Crash game to date to ever do so. It would be the last platforming Crash game to hit the PlayStation 1, and it didn’t disappoint. What’s the story? After the events of Crash 2, in which Crash destroys the Cortex Vortex Laser, the Vortex comes tumbling down to Earth. When it hits Earth, it actually crashes into an ancient shrine, releasing the evil spirit Uka Uka, Aku Aku’s evil brother. Once released, Uka Uka and Cortex transport to a hovering Time Machine in space, created by N. Tropy, master of time. It turns out that Cortex was actually working for Uka Uka, and Uka Uka isn’t happy that Cortex has failed him twice in a row. Uka Uka wants Cortex to do his job right, so he joins Cortex to defeat Crash (and his sister Coco), and Aku Aku. Aku Aku transports the 2 Bandicoots up to the Time Machine as well and instructs Crash and Coco that they must find 25 Crystals in order to stop Cortex’s and Uka Uka’s evil plans of taking over the world. Thus beginneth our heroes travels through time!

Some things never change, and it’s perfectly fine here. Crash 3 has all the comforts of Crash 2, with the Aku Aku crates, Nitro Boxes, and Bonus Rounds returning. New crates include a “roulette” kind of crate, in which spins a certain icon to see if Crash will get an extra life, an Aku Aku mask, or just wampa fruit. Crash’s goal is the same as before: Get a crystal and head for the goal. Some crystals have to be obtained by doing certain tasks, like shooting down blimps and planes on the flying levels, or getting 1st place on the racing levels. Gems return as well, and the same routine: Get all the crates to get a Gem. Although, it’s not always the case. Some Gems are just hidden in a level accessed usually by a hidden passageway or a secret platform that takes you to another unreachable part of the level. Some levels have secret paths that let you have a Colored Gem, which means you can get the other Gems you couldn’t get before. Relics make their debut in Crash 3, and are obtained through Time Trial mode. Once you beat a level, you can return to it and you can grab a Floating Clock, thus starting the Time Trial. Beat the time to get a Relic. Get a really good time to get a Gold Relic or the even rarer Platinum Relic. The point of this game is similar to Crash 2. You have 5 Warp Rooms (6 if you count the hidden one) and in every level, there is a Crystal waiting for the taking. After you get 5 Crystals in a Warp Room, you can challenge a Boss to a battle. If you defeat the Boss, you can get a Special Move that can be useful in other levels. You can even get a Bazooka!

Instead of being in the cliche jungle or ruins themes, Crash 3 takes you to different parts of time, including the Medieval Period, Ancient Arabia, Egyptian Tombs, Retro-styled Speedways, and more! These levels have greater design than in the previous games, and it really shows how much the PlayStation can handle. Crash’s movements are more fluent, and the Motorcycle and Plane controls are easy to figure and maneuver about. The China levels bring about the return of the “Riding A Crazed Animal” gimmick, with Coco finally showing off her stuff with her pet Tiger, Pura. Even though this is a truly great game, the levels can get boring playing it over and over. Unless you haven’t found the secret paths yet, none of the challenge changes, even if in Time Trial mode. Time Trial can be a pain in the neck if you don’t have the Crash Dash, but once you do have it, you can basically go through most of the levels and get a Gold Relic easily.

Crash’s greatest soundtrack comes in this game. I like every track of the game, but my favorite tune would have to be the Prehistoric Jungle themes. The Bonus Rounds have their own unique way of remixing the Main Theme of Crash 3. This game has example of great music, and it is certainly a lot better than the previous installments. The Dr. N. Cortex theme for the final battle is simply an amazing composition and signals the end of a true villian that would never reach his full evil potential again in future installments.

THE 2 SPIN-OFFS

CRASH TEAM RACING

Naughty Dog’s last Crash game would not be a platformer, but instead, a racing game in the tradition of such others like Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing.

The courses take you back on a journey through all the games, including snow courses, sewer courses, and more.

CRASH BASH

The first Crash game to not be developed by Naughty Dog, the new developer, Eurocom, actually did a decent job of creating a fun and addicting party game, probably even more enjoyable than most of the Mario Parties released out there.

OVERALL/FUTURE

 

The future of Crash looks grim. Beginning with The Wrath of Cortex for the PS2, Crash has failed to meet the success and successful gameplay mechanics that have simply made the last 3 into utter masterpieces. Hopefully in the future, some brave developer will turn this uncertain ship around, but for the time being, we will unfortunately have to sit and wait.

Crash in the sewer level.

 

Categories: Daily Feature, Review

3 Responses so far.

  1. Coco Bandicoot says:

    That was very good Aegis. Yay, for mentoining Lara Croft :D

  2. Lord Vaati says:

    One thing that made me not like Crash is the Crappy games they gave out at Mcdonald’s a few years ago. They did it with Spyro, too.

  3. mark says:

    crash would be great if naughty dog would go back and develop it for activision. I truley hope they will allow them or another developer to take a shot and bring crash back to his greatness, this also goes for spyro after the first 3 it all went down hill aswell which is also now owned by activision.

    very good reviews!


− three = 4


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