“OOGABOOGA!” If you recognize this word then congratulations, you have played the game that started one of the best and most famous game series to date, the “Crash Bandicoot” series, one of my personal favourite games. Crash was made in 1996 as a platform game (one of the first 3d platform games, also codenamed “Sonics' *** game” due to it being one of the first “from behind” platform games rather than a side scrolling one) by the highly rated “Naughty Dog” game developer (also known for creating Uncharted and The Last of Us). Naughty dog were responsible for the three original Crash games released for the PlayStation console (coincidentally, the three best games!) along with the spin off racing game; “Crash Team Racing”. I will be looking back at all four games and sharing my reviews with you all, I feel that if you have played these games and enjoyed them then you may enjoy my reviews, alternatively if you haven’t played them, I’m hoping that my reviews will convince you to play them!
The Wumpa Islands, home of Crash Bandicoot and co. and a home away from home for me and anyone else who was entranced with this incredible game back in the day! The game begins with our hero (however unlikely he may seem) in the captivity of the main villain – “Dr. Neo Cortex”. Crash is about to be brainwashed into serving Neo but the machine Neo is using fails, resulting in Crash’s escape, only after he escapes do we see that his girlfriend (whom due to complaints was later replaced by Crash’s sister, a far more interesting character) is still in captivity and thus begins Crash’s quest! After starting the game you are brought to the level selection screen, which is a side scrolling selection over three different islands, each with a number of levels you must progress through to get to the end, there will be boss levels from time to time. After each mission you are brought to the completion screen, and you can see how many boxes you missed, these completion screens contain more information in the next two games, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
One of the main gameplay features is the crates within each level, these crates contain the very delectable and important “Wumpa fruit”. If you collect 100 of these, you will be rewarded with an extra life and the counter will reset to 0. There are many different types of these crates, the standard most common one is a plan crate containing a single wumpa fruit, the second most common type of crate is the plain design with a question mark on it, this type of crate an contain anything from an extra life to a single fruit. There are also crates that provide lives and “Aku-Aku” masks (Aku-Aku is a floating mask who is an ally of Crash’s, the mask allows you to take a hit from an enemy and live, stack three of them and you will be immortal for a few seconds, a lot like picking up a gold star as Mario). There are bad crates too, Nitro and TNT. TNT will set off a timer if you jump on it and if you are in proximity you will be hit and killed, this can make for tricky situations when TNT is in close proximity to an important crate. Nitro on the other hand, is far more dangerous. You cannot even touch nitro without dying so plan accordingly if you’re trying to get that extra life crate, you may die in the process! There are crates that set off events that you need to activate in order to progress in the level and finally, there are crates that switch between different crates, for example; one second it is a blank crate, then a question mark, then a nitro and then a life and as you approach it swaps faster and if you aren’t quick enough, it will remain on black. I personally think the crates make the gameplay far more interesting and enjoyable, I feel that without them it would be too bland of a platform game.
There are a multitude of enemies in the game of various types. They all repeat the same cycles of movement, generally left to right but sometimes in a square, up and down or forward and backward. The easiest way to deal with these enemies is to bypass them either by moving to one side or jumping over them, you may also jump on them to neutralize them but be warned that some of them can damage you if you land on them. Crash’s main attack in this first game is the spin move (he gains a few more abilities in the later instalments) and can be utilised in all situations and to be perfectly honest, will be used excessively throughout the game whether it be killing an enemy or breaking a crate. There are also certain levels where you can ride an animal (in later games you have the ability to fly a plane or ride a jet ski or a motorcycle) and the animal will have to avoid enemies as well, this is the most efficient way to pass the animal riding levels.
The visuals, sound and mechanics of this first Crash instalment are as you would expect, low standard. It is a PlayStation 1 game from 1996, after all. The level design is quite aesthetically appealing albeit somewhat repetitive but I suppose that is intentional since you are in the same area quite a lot. The music in game is fairly catchy and somewhat iconic yet repetitive as well. Gameplay mechanics are a little stiff and you have no real camera pan access, movement is stiff but it doesn’t hinder the experience at all, it will literally take you until the end of the first level to be totally used to the gameplay, then you can enjoy the rest of the game without any issues!
For me, this game was the weakest of the three Crash Bandicoot platform games from Naughty Dog, but keep in mind when I say worst, if I were to rate it out of 100 it would still score over 90, the other two would just score higher! I thoroughly enjoy this game and when I sit down to play through it I’m never disappointed! I’m going to work under the assumption that since most of you are gamers that you have played the Crash Bandicoot games and enjoyed them, but if any of you haven’t played it, bust out your PlayStation and find a copy or take to the internet to get yourself this game and play it, and the others so that you can experience an incredible game that you could say changed the gaming industry somewhat with the 3D platforming aspect!