To most folks, the bandicoot is just a silly looking marsupial that lives in the Australian outback. To PlayStation owners, however, the tiny critter is a spinning, pants-wearing bundle of red fur and attitude that just happens to be the next big thing for Sony's 32-Bit system.
And this next big thing's name is Crash Bandicoot, whose self-titled game is one of the most highly anticipated second-generation next-gen titles to come along for the PlayStation. The game is slated for a September release, and the mounting anticipation surrounding it is understandable; Crash Bandicoot is, without a doubt, the best-looking title to come out for the PlayStation ever. Its graphics are crisp, colorful, and-for lack of a better term-just plain awesome. (Check out the side-bar for info on why the game looks so great.) In fact, the game's stunning visuals have prompted many Crash-playing EGM staff members to wonder if they were watching a cinema rather than the game itself.
But does Crash Bandicoot play like a cinema? No. It has gameplay guts to go with its visual glory. Although Crash's attacks are pretty standard stuff (he leaps on and spins into enemies) the game is packed with a variety of levels, many requiring a different type of play style. It offers forward-scrolling stages, sidescrolling stages-even two stages that tax Crash's beast-riding skills!
The majority of the game is played in a third-person perspective, with you looking over the furry head of the pouched-reared protagonist as he zips head-on through each stage. And Crash has more than his fair share of obstacles to avoid during his quest to rescue his girlfriend. Most levels have Crash making a mad dash through the jungle, which is packed from tree to shining tree with bottomless pits and angry animals. Crash must contend with rogue skunks, bandicoot eating plants, bloodthirsty bats, vicious villagers and other terrors of the jungle.
Not all the animals are against Crash, however. Later in the game, the bandicoot will climb aboard his trusty wild boar and haul butt through the greenery. The squealing sow only has two speeds-fast and faster-and Crash must clutch to the critter and steer him around and over traps and pits. Some chasms are too wide to clear in one jump, but big bongo drums lie before these pits and give the pig a boost of leaping power. Crash will also have to avoid spiked posts, barbecue pits and shield-wielding villagers that cross his pig's path.
But the hog-riding levels aren't the only ones laden with traps. Giant stone rollers lumber onto the road in front of Crash during his on-foot adventures, and Crash can only cross some chasms by vaulting onto support columns that drop from under the hero's feet if he wastes too much time planning his next leap.
Not all of the game's levels-and traps-are landlocked; some stages send Crash careening along a rock- and log-strewn stream. Here the bandicoot must deal with hungry fish and even hungrier plant life. But the water levels' real challenge lies in guiding the bandicoot through the wet-and-wild obstacles. The only route Crash can follow downstream is across slippery logs and onto moving lily pads. One badly aimed leap will land Crash in the drink, all wet and all dead.
These water-logged levels are perhaps the game's most visually stunning stages. Crash's falls into the stream are rewarded with realistic splashes, and the waterfalls that Crash must occasionally scramble over look straight from a postcard.
Other levels reverse the player's perspective and send Crash cruising in your direction, toward the television screen. For instance, several Indiana Jones-inspired stages have Crash running in front of huge rolling boulders that pursue the hero. One false step and Crash is road kill. These backward-scrolling levels are extra tough because you can't see the obstacles that lie in front of Crash until they're nearly under his feet. Jumping across chasms becomes especially difficult, since you can't see their far sides. Still other levels are played in the traditional side-scroller fashion, with Crash running and jumping his way over gaps and past traps that lie along his path.
The visual quality of these levels doesn't degrade just because the player perspective has changed; they're rendered in the same crisp 3-D graphics that make the game so spectacular. Later levels mix both side- and forward-scrolling perspectives, with Crash dashing left or right for a while, then plunging straight into the jungle or a cavernous ruin.
Crash's adventure takes him to three islands, all containing a total of more than 30 stages. Besides the jungle locales, he'll also wander inside and outside of ancient ruins and storm his nemesis' castle.
Gamers are guaranteed to reach 26 levels when they play through Crash Bandicoot, but chances are they'll stumble across a slew of bonus rounds. The key to reaching these rounds lies in the crates that Crash can bust open as he hauls butt through the game. Most crates are full of fruit that the bandicoot can collect for extra lives, while others contain voodoo masks that make Crash invincible if he collects three of them.
But a few crates house bonus-level heads. Collect three of these and Crash will cruise to one of the game's three types of bonus rounds. For instance, collect three Tawna heads and Crash will be sent to her bonus level. Here Crash can load up on fruit, voodoo masks and lives--and you can save your game if you reach the end of the level. Later in the game, Crash can also collect Dr. Brio and Dr. Cortex heads and be sent to their respective bonus levels. Brio's levels are chock-full of extra lives, while players will find two keys in Cortex's stages. These keys grant access to two super-secret bonus rounds that can be found early in the game.
The crates themselves also open up bonus levels. If Crash finds and smashes every crate in a level without losing a life, he'll be awarded a gem at the end of the stage. These crystals unlock special gem levels that Crash can uncover throughout the game. Some gem levels can only be accessed once Crash clears a level later on in his adventure. This need to revisit early stages to find new bonus levels adds tremendous replay value to the game.
Crash Bandicoot is a tent-pole product for several companies, namely Sony. Universal Studios Interactive and Naughty Dog Inc., all of which became caught up in the game's development at one point or another.
Naughty Dog began putting the game t together nearly two years ago, with the intention that Universal would help tweak and distribute the title. Then Sony took notice of the game and saw what could potentially be the company's Mario 64 killer. So the folks behind the PlayStation signed on to publish and distribute Crash Bandicoot.
But does Crash have what it takes to take on Nintendo's--as well as Sega's--juggernaut mascots and become king of the next-gen jungle? That remains to be seen. Crash's graphics and game-play will certainly give the little bandicoot a fighting chance.
Download Crash Bandicoot
This year's most highly anticipated PlayStation adventure has finally . arrived. Crash Bandicoot lives up to its hype by delivering true 3D gaining with high-quality production to boot.
As in other platform-hopping adventures, your goal here is to save your girlfriend (Shawna) from the clutches of a madman (Dr. Neo Cortex). As the title character Crash (a bandicoot is a ratlike Australian marsupial), you must clear 30 greatly varying levels. From the jungle to the ancient ruins to Cortex's mechanized lair, Crash's gameplay is familiar territory. Other than a one-level ride on the back of a boar, the action's all jumping and spinning attacks.
The levels get continually tougher, but numerous free lives are found in plain sight of your path and are also earned in bonus rounds. In order to uncover all of the game, players will need to complete the levels without dying and by smashing all the crates. The game subsequently rewards you with colored gems that act as stairways to hidden areas found in the previous levels.
Undoubtedly Crash will have mass appeal, but the game isn't perfect. Trying to judge distances from the mostly static view behind Crash is one of the game's main flaws. Crash also lacks some of the diversity and innovative next-gen qualities found in Sega's Nights and Nintendo's Mario 64. This is most evident with Crash's boss characters whose patterns are easy to recognize.
Overall, Crash's lighthearted, wacky tone and brilliant eye-candy will have players bounding over obstacles and crushing crates for days on end. PlayStation platform fans should make like a bandit for this Bandicoot.
- To defeat Ripper Roo, first dodge him by moving between the front three cubes. When he approaches from the back, activate the nearby TNT and move away.
- Don't use spin attacks against Papu Papu. Jump on his head after he swings and misses you with his club.
- Smashing all the boxes without dying will give you a "perfect" screen and a gem.
- When outrunning the boulders, try to run in as straight a line as possible. Follow trails of fruit as they guide you around obstacles.
- When spin-busting crates on small platforms, be sure you're standing still before hitting the spin attack button, or you may spin right off.
- In the Cortex Power level, jump to the right and bounce off the wall to avoid the spiked robots.
Lush, clean, colorful textures provide the most stunning scenery in a 32-bit game to date. Some polygonal enemies are tame-looking, but effects like steam and Ore set new visual standards. Crash's death animations lend a Warner Brothers flair.
Excellent sound effects include the splash of Crash falling in the water and the shriek and flutter of bats. The characters have little to say, however, and the subtle, unintru-sive music may come off as silly to some.
With only a spin attack and a jump, Crash's controls are simple. The tight directional-pad control borders on hyper-sensitive-which is necessary to navigate the more difficult 3D environments.
Although the gameplay Isnt revolutionary, the cool look of each new level drives you onward. This pretty platform game proves the PlayStation can deliver a smooth, enjoyable 3D adventure.
If this marsupial with an attitude is to the PlayStation what Sonic and Mario were to the Genesis and SNES, we'll all be adding "bandicoot" to our video-game vocabularies.
No mascot has captured the hearts, minds, and dollars of PlayStation owners the way Sonic and Mario won over Genesis and SNES owners. Crash Bandicoot, an orange, rat-like marsupial, could possibly change all that.
The game smacks a little of Sonic. There's an evil doc, Dr. Neo Cortex, who wants to rule the world, and a girlfriend named Tawna who needs rescuing. But unlike the typical side-scrolling action/adventure platform hopper, Crash Bandicoot moves and grooves with multiple views inside his 3D world. Universal Interactive intends to have 30 levels of gameplay replete with bonus rooms and hidden items a la Donkey Kong Country.
Graphics & Sound
Game development is only at the halfway point, but graphically Crash has the early looks of a winner. Crash and his cohorts jump off the screen at you in fully rendered 3D animation.
The game's theme music and sound effects weren't available for previewing, but reportedly the effects are being created by movie-effects editors. It looks like Crash could have all the bells and whistles necessary to make him the PlayStation mascot-now we just need to wait for the gameplay.
After finally scoring some hands-on gaming time with the much-ballyhooed Crash Bandicoot, we feel safe in saying that this cool game is worth getting excited about. While it doesn't revolutionize platform gaming, Crash does offer some cool new twists, such as 3D levels where you run into or away from the foreground. You face tough jumps, pincer-clawed crabs, rolling gates, skunks, snapping plants, and boulders (hot on your tail a la Indiana Jones). Crash tackles these obstacles with a jump, a Taz-like spin move, and a repertoire of humorous expressions and animations. Tropical graphics make for a colorful eyeful.
It started as just another cute action game. Little did anybody know that once the expert producers at Universal Interactive Studios started to tweak the raw program that another ho-hum mascot-type game would turn out to be perhaps the hottest new product of the year.
All that extra effort didn't go unnoticed by Sony. After seeing the preliminary info on the game, they immediately fell in love with both the character and the game. So much, in fact, that Sony states that they have decided to make Crash their official mascot.
But what about the game? Is it really that good? Our editors got a sample of it at ECTS in London and their overall impression was extremely favorable.
EG/Wdid learn a bit about the story line there though. It takes place on a three-island chain off the southeast coast of Australia, where a mad scientist (Dr. Neo Cortex) with the help of Dr. N. Brio decided to brainwash the animals on the island to be in their army which will take over the world. They used the Evil-Ray (to increase brain power) and the Cortex Vortex (to make them faithful to Dr. Cortex). As expected it doesn't go right and the animals go mad.
One animal is Crash who gets thrown off the island and ends up two islands away. He must find his way back and save his girlfriend Tawna, who is next in line for the experiment.
There will be over 30 levels of gameplay with solid control in all three directions. Crash has a Spin Attack which he will use to get rid of the enemies he encounters. If he gathers enough Yin-Yang-Yuk medals, he gets to go to the bonus room. Also, the various bonus fruits will give him special powers...one of which is invincibility. Finally, if he joins forces with
Aku Aku--the wise village witch doctor--Crash will be able to get helpful advice and a magical orb which will protect him from one hit.
Sony is still being quite secretive about the game, so stay tuned until next month when there's more info.