Crash Bandicoot review
Some classic this turned out to be...
A lot of gamers who grew up in the 90s will tell you that Crash Bandicoot used to be awesome, then Naughty Dog dropped him off to another company, who decided to make bad games. I really want to say that they're right, but I, in good conscience, can't. In my eyes, the third game was certainly good, but the second one was merely above average, and the first game... was not very good.
Crash Bandicoot's story is just a basic "rescue the damsel in distress from an evil something" kind of scenario that's been done to death, and this game doesn't do things any differently, nor is it ever refreshing, so all you're really left with is a feeling of "hmmm something could've been done here". Naughty Dog would certainly agree - the story is all in the instruction booklet, not told at all in the game... and I just find it mildly humorous that 11 years later after this game, they develop the first Uncharted game, which is a hell of a cinematic experience. Guess you have to start somewhere.
The basic idea is to go from Point A to Point B while jumping over chasms and onto platforms, and kill the occasional enemy by spinning into them like the Tasmanian Devil himself, Taz. Each of the levels don't really take advantage of the new technology beyond just aesthetics; instead, they'd rather be just as linear as the typical sidescrolling platformer. Because of this, plus the fact that for such long seeming levels, not much really happens besides the occasional cheap moment, the levels are boring. I honestly can't pick out a single level and go "man, I'd love to play this level a million times", although there are a few levels I could pick out and go "man, I'd hate to play this level again".
It's quite unfortunate, because the bosses are actually pretty fun to fight. Sure, they're rather simple because all you really need to do is observe their patterns and attack at the right time, but finding out those patterns and beating them for the first time... I don't know, maybe it's because it's a good break from the dull levels and frustrating sections, but fighting the bosses is just fun as hell.
Unfortunately for Crash Bandicoot, his first game was cooked a little too early. What I mean is that this was released before Sony redesigned the controller to have two analog sticks... I mean, there was a very, very good reason why - D-pads cannot gauge 3D movement properly. I assume Sony either realized this after a while or just looked at Nintendo's and hated how fragile it was and thought they could 1-up them... either way, moving Crash around with the D-pad is awkward. Because the D-pad only has two kinds of inputs (those being you're pressing down on it or you're not), for quite a while, it's going to be hard to gauge your jumps properly. Maybe it's a good thing that the level designs went for that linear approach - ahaha, no, because even then, jumping is annoying. Trying to land on a small platform or clear a series of gaps? Good luck. You can at least move Crash while he's in the air, but by the time you see his shadow, it's probably too late to readjust. Moving platforms? I pray for you. Even then, you'll never master these controls. You just get lucky.
It's not just play control that'll screw you over; it'll be when you're dealing with generally cheap moments. At times, you'll be chased, and you'll be running towards it. Unfortunately, that means you'll have almost no time to react to obstacles in your way because there isn't much that you can see in front of Crash. It's VERY trial and error heavy, and not the good kind, either. It's never a case of you screwing up because you suck; you screw up because you can't see what it is you're heading towards! Adding onto that, you have enemies with shields that can knock you off, you have slippery platforms, and whenever Crash gets hit, he gets knocked back like Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series - and that's if Crash has a mask on him (which he gets by breaking a crate with the mask pictured on it). Yeah, in other words, it's not exactly a fair platformer that's hard because of skill, but rather, because of cheap instances...
If those were the only big issues, this game would be getting a much higher rating, but no. Unfortunately, this game has the absolute shittiest save system that you could ever encounter in a video game. Instead of saving at specific locations on the map screen or just saving at the end of each level, it forces you to save during a bonus stage. How do you enter said bonus stage? Why, collect three tokens in a level, of course! Oftentimes though, they're hard to find (which is strange in a world so linear). But in the event that you find them, you still have to go through a bit more platforming, and if you fail, then you won't be able to save until the next level. This is just ridiculous.
It's more painful than it looks.
I have to say, though... it looks nice for an early PS1 game. It's colorful, vibrant and bold with some decent comical animations to give it some flavor, and even though a lot of the designs seem rather pedestrian, they at least look aesthetically pleasing. It manages to keep a steady framerate, so at least that won't get you killed. Nothing to get all excited about, but it at least looks nice.
The music is something that polarizes many reviewers... some think it's awesome, others think it's terrible. Honestly, the music is actually rather catchy. It has that tribal vibe to go with the fact that you spend most of the game on an island, going through jungles and in and around volcanos. To be honest, there's not much else to it...
Crash Bandicoot gets a 3.5/10. The levels aren't much to shake a stick at unless they're chock full of cheap moments - in which case, they're terrible. The controls weren't too good, but then again, the PS1 controller didn't have analog sticks at the time, so it makes sense, though it still sucks hardcore. The way that you save was the final nail in the coffin - don't ever repeat this mistake. At least it looks good, sounds good, and the bosses were pretty fun, though not worth going through frustrating and otherwise boring levels.
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