I’ve had my week off in which I spent having fun and frolicking (It was my birthday for those who didn’t know). Sadly though there is no rest for the wicked and I must return to the grindstone once more. This week I decided to take a look into my old toy box and dig out an old favourite from my youth. So for your reading pleasure this is my over look of the Crash Bandicoot Trilogy (That’s 1-3, before the series faded into obscurity).
Long ago at the tender age of 8 I remember my dad coming home from a business trip and bring back with him as a present to us a copy of the first Crash Bandicoot game. I immediately fell in love with the game, playing it constantly between school, meals and sleeping. It’s simplicity and child friendliness kept me playing for a good long wile. With the later releases of Crash 2 & 3, the recipe was still the same but with slight adjustments and minor upgrades. After the trilogy and the Crash Team Racing spin-off, Naughty Dog did a rather odd yet noble thing. They refused to make any more Crash games and thus the series was moved on by the publishers at the time Sony Computer Entertainment to Traveller’s Tales and then on to a series of other developers who could never do the series justice. If Wikipedia is to be believed the series is currently owned by Activation who are sitting on their hands with the series as of writing this review.
That’s the back story now the game. I love platform games. Their simplicity and addictive nature makes it easy for players to be absorbed into them since in most games of the platform genre the player never really needs to master any controls other than move, jump and attack. Crash is no exception to this, the first has the bare minimum of controls in which to get by. By Crash 2 the ability to crouch, high jump and slide are added, a couple of extra buttons to press but it helps create more of a variation in each level. Things start getting into the realms of ridiculous at about Crash 3 where the introduction of the double jump, whirlwind spin and a god dam applezooka is thrown into the fray. Some of these (particularly the applezooka) seem like little more than a gimmick, something to add to the game to try and show at least an illusion of progression. Much like adding multi-player to New Super Mario and porting it to the Wii, because that’s an original concept never done before isn’t it Nintendo?
There is a story somewhere within the Crash series, which is more opaque in the latter 2, the first game if you missed the 30sec intro at the beginning, you’ll have no idea why anything is happening. A simple why as to what I’m doing is always nice but not always necessary. It turns out Crash was created by Dr. Neo Cortex to lead his army of critters to world domination, as is such the machine malfunctioned, Crash escapes and must save the female bandicoot from Neo Cortex and in doing so save the world. As to why he collects apples, It’s like asking why Mario collects coins. The answer being because all Platform protagonists are kleptomaniacs. Think about it, Sonic steals gold rings, Rayman steals blue orbs. They all do it.
I was born into the middle ground of gaming. I’m too old to have grown up with the constant media labelling of “Computer Games are too violent and are the cause of everything that is wrong with everything as well as being single handedly responsible every single controversy and injustice ever in recorded and non-recorded history”. I tell you, I’m glad Al-Qaeda admitted to 9/11 because if they didn’t the Americas would probably have to declare war on computer games instead, starting with Flight Simulators… I’m sorry about that, it’s my problem, I’ll deal with it. Anyway, lets continue shall we? I’m also not old enough to have grown up in the dawn of video games in the late70’s/early 80’s. Leaving me to grow up around the middle ground of gaming where video games were starting to push into mainstream society. This means earlier mascots such as Mario, Sonic, Link & Donkey Kong were already well defined within the medium, leaving me to grow up around budding mascots and series such as Rayman, Solid Snake, Crash & Spyro. Characters that have been cast off by older gamers because they seemed tacky compared to what they had in the “Good Old Days” and shunned by the newer gamers for not being Master Chief. They are The Inbetweeners of the gaming world, which gives them a special place in my heart.
The games have aged surprisingly well over the years. They are still as fun to play now as they were all those years ago. Although graphically they are rather rough around the edges, they aren’t bad enough to denture you from playing them, unlike other games of that era (the first Resident Evil being the biggest guilty party). The first one enthralled me enough to play all the way through from start to finish in one evening. The second one I have been jumping on and off of over the past week or so and no. 3 I’ll start again once I’ve completed 2 again.
Overall Crash to me is like a washed up Rock Star. After 3 Critically acclaimed albums, success went to Crash’s head, the crack addiction began. Bickering and infighting caused changes to the band which meant following albums could never really stand up to the originals. Then the fall into obscurity before one day wondering what happened to the poor guy, you check Wikipedia to find that while your back was turned there was a flood of mediocre to poor albums before finally being dropped by the record label. I’m just hoping whatever Activision has planned for the old Bandicoot for his reunion tour will be enough to give him a decent sending off before we lay him to rest. Shine on you Crazy Bandicoot.