Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Review

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Publisher: Universal Interactive
Developer: Traveller's Tales

Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube
Reviewed on GameCube

Crash Bandicoot returns for more 3D action/adventure gaming. Neo Cortex is planning the end of all things good and fruity, so Crash must cut his respite short to stop Cortex and his minion Crunch. Jump your way to victory and, along the way, take a ride in some new vehicles and a Bandicoot Ball.

The Game Gimp

The game box informs us that Crash is "Everyone's Favorite Bandicoot." Since Crash is the only Bandicoot I know, I suppose they're right about that much. On the GameCube? Seems like I remember a day when a certain Bandicoot was just hangin' in the Nintendo parking lot heckling the staff cafeteria with a bullhorn. Now he wants in?! You'd think that he would bring a little more with him on his first date with Mario...

Yep, now Crash is on GameCube and the first offering is this "Wrath of Cortex" game. It's a conversion of the PlayStation 2 version, which was first generation PS2 software, which may even mean that it was a PS One game that was refitted for the more advanced console. It would make a lot of sense if the latter was true.

Here's the story – Cortex (he's got a big head – get it?) has made off with some pretty valuable crystals and stashed them in the realms of the four elemental masks. These worlds all have conveniently placed entrances that lead to the hero's hideout. So Crash must travel the elemental realms and grab all those crystals, while facing up against a new anti-crash: a Bandicoot named Crunch (everyone's second favorite Bandicoot?).

The game play is a replica of the PS One Crash games. This may appeal to some people and maybe younger kid gamers, but GameCube owners may be looking for something more, especially after giving Mario Sunshine a twirl. What all this means is fairly straight forward running, jumping and bouncing action as Crash scoops up gems, breaks boxes, and collects those Rastafarian colored fruits he loves so much. Like the previous PS One games – the bulk of the levels are very linear "tracks" where the camera is always fixed (sometimes behind and sometimes to the side) and you move inevitably forward. Each game world has five levels – two of which break from the "track" formula and offer a mini-game type thing that will have you flying a plane, or driving a buggy, or rolling around in a sphere a la Monkey Ball. These levels are for the most part the better ones, and they break up the monotony well. They are, however, far too short and not particularly challenging.

The boss levels offer a bit more challenge (or maybe a lot more challenge), but as with all the difficult portions of Crash, they are so because the game uses, for the most part, a "one strike and you're out" damage system. Thus, it's not so much challenging as it is frustrating: Crash will fall into a certain pit time after time or barely miss dodging a laser beam one out of twenty times, requiring the boss to be replayed from the beginning. Crash's safety net – a mask that allows him to take one hit before dying – usually doesn't come into play with these bosses so there's no margin for error at all, and it will not be uncommon to go through dozens of game lives before progressing.

Unfortunately, the visuals and sounds are also rooted in the previous generation of console gaming. In reality, the whole Crash milieu has been created with the previous hardware's polygon limitations in mind, so the characters seem blocky and low count. Animation is unexciting with enemies going through standard attack loops that repeat with no variation and many enemies don't move around at all. The environments are also extremely uninspired, none of them offering anything remotely impressive for today's hardware.

With drab visuals and uninspired game play, one would think the game would at least run like a cheetah on the GameCube, but oddly enough, the frame rate drops quite regularly, and the load times are (specifically contrary to the package description) extremely long.

Crash isn't a bad game – its just completely and utterly unremarkable in any way. There's not a huge library of games on the Gamecube yet, but most will offer players more in terms of fun, charm and looks.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 2, 2002 4:08 PM.

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