Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced Review

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Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
Developer: Vicarious Visions

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on Game Boy Advance

Crash Bandicoot has often been forced to deal with the sinister Dr. Neo Cortex, on battlegrounds of Cortex's choosing, forcing Crash to jump, dodge, swim, drive and perform an astounding array of athletic feats to put an end to Cortex's schemes. This time, Dr. Neo Cortex has been banished to deep space, but evil always lurks somewhere, and Dr. Nefarious Tropy has plans of his own. N. Tropy has used his mastery of space and time to enlist the aid of N. Trance, who has hypnotized Crash's sister Coco and the super-bandicoot Crush. Now, Crash's former allies are being forced to do battle with Crash and do the bidding of anyone with a name beginning in N.

Kyle Ackerman

Like most good platformers, the premise of Crash N-Tranced is simple enough – get through enough levels, collect enough crystals, defeat the end-level bosses and Crash will eventually free his friends and defeat evil. The first Crash Bandicoot game came to us in 1996 from developer Naughty Dog, and ever since, Crash has been breaking crates. Naughty Dog has since moved on to other things, and Vicarious Visions has taken up the gauntlet on this Game Boy Advance game. Crash N-Tranced is definitely a Crash game – there are Wumpa Fruit, crystals, and gems, and relics appear if you complete the level fast enough. Oh yes, there are also crates. Lots of crates. Not only are there all the familiar crates from other Crash games, but new crates that freeze enemies or give Crash access to a magic carpet or helicopter backpack.

This installment in the extensive series of Crash games stays true to the Crash mythos while providing a great platformer experience. You navigate Crash through a game world that offers a choice of paths. Typically you can pursue either of two routes, or check out the levels in both. All roads converge on certain choke-points where Crash will have to face his hypnotized friends and pound them back to their senses, while avoiding his own untimely demise.

The basic platformer action of Crash N-Tranced is quite good, with varied levels and a surprisingly complex set of moves given the few buttons on the GBA. Not only can Crash run and perform a variety of combination jumps, he can slide, do his tornado whirl, or body slam the nasty critters that inhabit the levels. With the occasional use of a magic carpet that Crash can pilot, and the helicopter pack, there is more than enough variety in different levels to keep things interesting. Levels do get harder, and as is often true in console platformers, it can be difficult to make it to the next check point late in the game. To offset that difficulty, you can easily acquire more lives, should you need them.

Many of the levels are the expected, two-dimensional, side-scrolling fare, jumping from platform to platform. The crate-bashing, fruit-collecting action would be enough for one game, but for variety, the developers created other types of levels. Wakeboarding levels have Crash towed behind a boat, avoiding obstacles and a giant shark, while Coco's space levels force her to face hostile spaceships while racing along through boosting rings. These two types of levels are just simple racing segments, but there are also Atlas Sphere levels, in which you roll around inside a giant framework sphere, trying to traverse levels with narrow passes and ramps, while collecting items on the way.

The levels are colorful and bright enough to overcome the GBA's usually dark screen, spanning a variety of interesting locales from tropical wilderness to a mythical Arabia to the ubiquitous lava levels. Although the controls of Crash N-Tranced take a little time to get used to, as timing Crash's moves can be tricky, it is an art worth mastering. There's even multiplayer modes that allow you to compete with a friend, if that person also owns a GBA, a link cable and another copy of Crash N-Tranced. All together, there's enough simple, colorful, engaging fun in a variety of play modes to make Crash N-Tranced a good purchase for a GBA owner of any age.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on May 10, 2003 3:43 PM.

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