Crash Bandicoot

Like many this was the first time I heard the words “Naughty Dog” and it’s very interesting looking at the developer and their evolution through to The Last Of Part II. You can really see the evolution in their games from Crash, through Jak and Uncharted, to Last of Us. While there are early ND games, this is the one that pretty much kicked started the company and sold them as a by-word for quality on the PlayStation platform.

Crash is one of a few games from the 95-7 period that was experimenting and trying to find an answer to the big question of the day – how to make a Super Mario like platform game, the most popular genre of the previous 5-8years, in 3D. And to be fair, with a couple of very minor issues, ND nail it first try.

The more cartoon-like art style makes for a more pleasing, high quality look and feel, 3D than the more realistic but blocky 3D of games such as Tomb Raider. The game plays in the third person and handles just like any previous 2D platformer using an over the shoulder camera. The game runs linearly and pretty much entirely “on rails”, other than jump and move forward there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for player movement, which is kind of what you want from a platform game.

You need to run through the levels breaking boxes and collecting apples. 99 apples equals one extra life, so there’s some good incentive to try and get all the apples you can find. A few nasties like skunks and man (Bandicoot) eating plants will try to impeed your progress but you have a nice spin attack that timed well will dispatch them.

The game has some problems with timing jumps which can be tricky turning in mid air and getting pixel perfect landing in a 3D environment (these things can be hard enough and frustrating in 2D platformers). Also running into the screen where you can’t see what is coming next (the boulders level) wasn’t really that good an idea.

The other more major annoyance is how the game handles save points. You need to collect three girlfriend tokens to enter a bonus stage. You then need to successfully complete the bonus stage to be able to save to memory card. And the save point itself then is at the very start of the current level, not the point in the game you reached when you entered the bonus stage. This makes it very hard to manage progress and makes for a very unfair hit when things go wrong. Why not just setup regular games saves at the beginning of each level?



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