Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Bit of Crates: Crash Bandicoot

I feel like Crash Bandicoot is one of those awesome games that has just gotten forgotten with the passage of time. I spent hours playing this game, yet when someone asks me which games are my favorite, I've never thought of it, which is a shame. This platformer, released for Playstation in 1996, has both an engaging story, beautiful-looking design, as well as being acclaimed globally by critics and players alike.

This whole game is founded on the overzealousness of Doctor Neo Cortex and his coworker Nitrus Brio—two mad scientists that have decided to take over the world and dominate it with a mutant animal army. The game is set near to Australia, and hence most of the animals in the game are mutated creatures from that area of the world, thus why Crash is a bandicoot (Just looked up a picture of bandicoots, and they are actually pretty g-dang adorable). Crash, when put into the machine that the two scientists use to modify these animals, was rejected, and able to escape from the castle where the experiments were going down. This, then, leads to the plot of the game. Without Crash to test on, the two doctors are required to make another creature: a female bandicoot named Tawna who subsequently becomes Crash's love interest. The gameplay then centers around Crash traversing three islands where Neo Cortex is conducting experiments while trying to save his girlfriend and clear the world of the scientists' deadly pollution and mutant war creatures. Sounds pretty engaging thus far right?

This is where I think it gets good, though. First off, I'm a sucker for levels—individual stages in a game help me to consume the content more readily and have a better understanding of where I am supposed to be going. I think that this is probably why I loved Mario for N64 so much as well. Crash travels from stage to stage smashing crates for extra lives, wumpa fruit for points, and even to potential get the option to go into a "bonus stage" of the game. Here is a list of the different types of crates you can collect:

  • ! Crate - usually turns outline crates throughout the level solid.
  • ? Crate - usually contains wumpa fruit or a one-up.
  • Aku Aku Crate - this lets loose the witch doctor Aku Aku who helps Crash by granting him invincibility.
  • Arrow Crate - this serves to project Crash in whichever direction the arrow is turned, so, if it is pointing up, it will shoot Crash up.
  • Bounce Crate - allows Crash to bounce up and down, and will eventually give him a bunch of wumpa fruit.
  • Checkpoint Crate
  • Crash Crate - gives Crash an extra life.
  • Iron Crates - with the same functionality of their lesser brothers, but indestructible
  • Nitro Crate - like TNT crates, but they do not count down. They explode upon contact.
  • Nitro Switch Crate - a crate at the end of the level that allows you to explode all nitro crates.
  • Outline Crate - these crates only become solid when a ! crate has been hit.
  • TNT Crate - like the nitro crate, but counts down before exploding
The reason that these are important is because much of the gameplay is based around destroying as much of these crates as possible in order to get gems which allow the player to unlock prior levels that are otherwise unavailable. This can get pretty tricky as some of the crates can be deadly to the player. The importance then, or the nitro switch crate becomes evident as it both allows the player to destroy all of the nitro crates in a level without killing themselves.

Along with destroying crates to get back to inaccessible past levels, Crash is also able to collect these little coin-like things in the likeness of Cortex, Tawnda, and Brio. Once having collected three of them a random "bonus round" will open up over the screen of the game and prompt the player into destroying as many crates as they can for other goodies. If you make it through a whole level without dying, a screen will pop up at the end of the level telling you both how many things you missed and how many things you collected while playing.

It bears noting that there are only five real bosses in this game, which makes the collecting the main impetus for gameplay. That being said, the bosses that you do fight are pretty difficult and do require some tactical scheming rather than just hack and slash like bosses sometimes are in platformers. The bosses of this game are: Dr Neo Cortex, Ripper Roo, Papu Papu, Koala Kong, and Pinstrip Potoroo. These also make other appearances in the series, and end up becoming a bit more developed in the later games.

Overall, I think that this is a fun, friendly game that is a quick and easy play without being too complex in terms of controls. When I was younger, this suited me as harder games were pretty frustrating in terms of controlling and understanding what the main goal was meant to be. After this game, I did play the second one Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, but have not played any of the other spin offs. If you are interested in playing this game, you can download it right in the PS3 marketplace in all of its original glory! Happy gaming!

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