Crash Bandicoot from Naughty Dog
Get a load of this, Plumber Boy!

Rating : graphics 94, sound 88, interface 86, fun factor 96, overall 91

Dr. Neo Cortex and his trusty companion Dr. N. Brio were well on their way to conquering the world when a critical mistake was made--Crash. The machine that was turning the local animals into a formidable army of soldiers didn't have the same twisted effect on a certain bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot was intended to be the head general of Dr. Cortex's animal army. The mutation machine malfunctioned, however, and instead of being a general in Dr. Cortex's army Crash is now Dr. Cortex's nemesis. (Oh, and he also wants to free the sexy she-bandicoot named Tawna!) So flex your fingers and prepare for an arcade adventure--Australian style.

Crash Bandicoot In Crash Bandicoot your goal is to stop Dr. Neo Cortex's plans and rescue Tawna. To accomplish this you will have to go through 32 levels of jumping, running, and riding wild-hogs to make it to Dr. Cortex's lab. Starting out on one of 3 islands Crash must work his way back to his girlfriend through boulder runs, temples, and rivers. The graphics in Crash are spectacular as are the animations of the inhabitants of the game. The controls are simple to learn and use, and the music is good. Crash is fun, and is shown in true 3D, but it's a 3D scroller. Additionally, it would have been nice to be able to move the camera around to see your environment better.

The first thing you'll notice about Crash is the graphics. Besides a few 2D sprites, the entire game is in true, gourad shaded, texture-mapped, Hi-Res 3D. Unlike other games that sport 3D, Crash uses the hi-res modes of the PlayStation to help define more realistic details (and it never slowed down!). What's more none of the graphics became blocky when the camera angle got up close to them. The graphics that stuck out most were the ones on the river levels. The flowing river and the splash of the fish were so realistic that it made me want to go fishing! The game feels like a 3D cartoon come to life which makes the game a lot of fun.

The cartoonish atmosphere is enhanced by the animations of everything in the game. Boxes bounce with a rubbery fashion when jumped upon, butterflies fly about minding their own business, trees sway in the breeze, and Crash himself looks about with a fiendish smile. It was a treat to see everything move about with a life of their own; it makes the game feel alive and dynamic.

Crash Bandicoot The controls for Crash couldn't be simpler. The directional pad moves Crash around the screen while the X button jumps. Pressing the Circle or Square button makes Crash attack with a swirling frenzy (a lot like the Tasmanian Devil). The triangle button tells you how many lives you have, the number of fruit you've collected and the number of Tawna Icons you've collected. Collecting 3 Icons takes you to the "Bonus Round" where you can collect extra lives and a chance to save your progress.

Just because the controls are simple, don't think the Crash is easy--it's a good challenge. Crash will have to battle through skunks, snakes, monkeys, natives, rolling stones, fires, spears, boulders and bottomless chasms on his way to Dr. Neo Cortex's lab. As with most games of this nature, timing is the key and replaying levels helps hone your maneuvering skills. To become a master of Crash Bandicoot, you'll have to get through each level the first time through and break every box on that level. If you do so you'll be rewarded with gems and keys which can be used on other levels to open up secret areas that you couldn't get to before. This addition makes Crash a very replayable game.

Crash Bandicoot may be a true 3D game but it's still just a platform scroller. This new spin the scroller type game is refreshing and we may well se more of these types of games in the future. But being limited to going in only one direction instead of giving me a full 3D island makes the game feel constrained. Because of this, (you're all going to get upset over this but) it's no Mario 64 where you're given free control of every direction you could want to go. Hopefully the next installation of Crash Bandicoot will give us this and more.

Crash Bandicoot The only game-play issue that I didn't like about Crash was the camera angles. On some levels you have to jump back into the distance onto platforms. The camera angle is set so that you can't tell how far away the platform is and must make a faith jump. If I could swing the camera with the controller then I could see how far I have to jump and would let me explore Crash's world in a whole new way. A tip that works great is to watch the shadow under Crash's feet. When the shadow shows up on the platform, stop pressing forward. It may be a simple technique, but when you have a split-second to determine what button to press it becomes invaluable.

Crash Bandicoot is a great 3D platform scroller with excellent graphics and wonderful sound. The movements and animations are fast, realistic, and help to bring this polygon world to life. Though Crash is limited to one-directional movement through his environment, we can only hope that the next incarnation will provide more freedom. And, maybe next time we'll be given control over the camera and let us move it around to view the same situation from a different angle. But on the whole, Crash Bandicoot is a strong arcade-action game that will have you hooked until the wee hours of the morning.

-- Louis Stice

Players: 1Password: Yes
Memory Card: Yes, 1 BlockLink-Up: No
ESRB Rating: Kids-Adults

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