What is a Bandicoot anyway?
With the original Playstation having just celebrated its 20th birthday (and therefore definitely retro!), I thought it would be a good time to take a look at Crash Bandicoot – the closest thing to an unofficial mascot Sony’s machine had.
This original outing sees the gangly-limbed bandicoot taking on his archenemy, Dr Cortex who has been experimenting on animals and turning them into all sorts of nasty things. Crash must race through a series of levels, smashing boxes and collecting apples whilst trying to stop Cortex’s evil plans.
At first glance, Crash Bandicoot doesn’t look anything special. It’s essentially a platform game with a 3D perspective and features everything you would expect: jumps to be made, enemies to be avoided (or jumped on) and apples to be collected (as weapons or extra lives). So far, so what. Thankfully, Crash Bandicoot has a couple of tricks up its sleeve to rescue it from platforming mediocrity.
First up, there’s Crash himself: cute enough to appeal to kids, but enough attitude for older gamers. He’s a character you feel a connection with, so feel bad when your gaming clumsiness kills him. Enemies have a similar quirky appeal and you almost regret having to kill them. True, some of the graphics now look a little dated, but they still have a cartoon-like quality that harks back to the old Warner Bros. characters and again, that’s appealing.
The colour scheme can be a touch murky making it tricky to work out what is a shadow and what is a pit to avoid and this can be a source of frustration. Camera angles can be a little ropey, too; particularly where precision jumping is required. As a fairly early attempt at a 3D platform game, though, it’s not too bad – although losing several lives at exactly the same stage each time can cause you to hurl the controller across the room in frustration!
Crash realises he has a problem with crabs
Any frustrations are soon forgiven thanks to the underlying gameplay. It’s simple to get into, but is fiendishly addictive and challenging. With only a few basic controls to master (run, jump and spin) you can get straight into the action without having to read a 500 page instruction manual first.
It doesn’t quite have the same frantic pace as Sonic, but that’s no bad thing as sometimes Ol’ Blue and Spiky is pretty uncontrollable; Crash never is. The basic gameplay (smashing boxes, killing enemies, collecting stuff) is satisfying, whilst the judicious use of checkpoints means you don’t have to replay entire levels over and over again.
Levels are also well-constructed with lots of variety as you move through the game and gameplay well balanced. Practice will definitely help you improve, and Crash rewards both fast reactions and the ability to remember enemy placements, whilst still remaining fun and accessible to the more casual gamer.
It’s not the hardest game in the world and with only 32 levels most people will be able to complete it. Further longevity is added by the fact that in order to achieve a 100% completion rate, you not only have to complete all the levels, but also smash every single box–quite tricky on some levels! I can’t normally be bothered constantly replaying levels in pursuit of 100% completion but Crash was one of the games I made an exception for.
Whilst the sequel was even better, the original Crash Bandicoot still holds up well today and if you have a few quid to spare is still well worth downloading from the PS Store.