Review by CBFan

"Perfect, No Way. Acceptable as a fun party game, Totally!"

Some of you may know Crash Bandicoot. For 4 years, Naughty Dog, the creators of the most famous bandicoot in history, made some of the best games on the planet, and it was these games (more specifically, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back) that got me interested. But Naughty Dog couldn't stay with Crash forever, and soon quit.

Afterwards, a whole selection of companies made their own Crash games to try and keep the series running. And although it may not be perfect, or even the best non-ND Crash game out there, I respect Eurocom Entertainment Software's attempt...the game I'm going to be reviewing today. The one. The only. CRASH BASH! If it wasn't for Eurocom, Crash may never have gotten to the stage he is today.

But enough of that, lets crack on with the review.

STORY
Crash Bash isn't like the games that ND made. It isn't a platformer, or a racing game...it's a party game. Fun if you have some friends around, although a little boring if it's just you playing.

Anyway, the story goes like so...Aku Aku and Uka Uka, the infamous witch doctor mask brothers, are having a little argument over who is the stronger. It has clearly been going on for a while, and they decide that it has to end. They can't fight each other because they got into trouble the last time they fought, so they instead summon their greatest champions into battle. That's it. It's not spectacular, but it will do.

GAMEPLAY
Ah yes, the meat in the sandwich. Crash Bash offers a lot of gaming for you and/or a friend to try. There are three modes for you to play.

Adventure mode, of course, is the main bit of the game. Basically, you pick what type of game it is (You can either go it alone, or team up with a friend), then pick your character. There are eight characters to choose from, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. I'll get onto that later. Once you've picked the character(s), you begin.

Mini-games make up the gameplay in Adventure mode. You start off with four games types. The first is a four-player version of Pong, but way less primitive, although the results are the same. The next is a jousting game, where you ride Polar Bears and try to push your oppodents off the edge. You can use a special beam that floats over the arena to help (or hinder) you (or your oppodent). Then we have a very fun game, where you bounce around an arena on a pogo stick/jetpack/spring shoes/jackhammer, depending on your character. Finally, another fun game involves you fighting the other characters, by picking up crates and throwing them at them. You can also jump or attack your oppodents. Furthermore, playing Adventure mode allows you to unlock three more mini-game types, which I shall keep secret for now.

To beat a game in adventure mode, you need to win three trophies. Once you've won it, you can go back into the arena and play for gems (where you compete with a set of harder rules, such as a time-limit, or your oppodents have an advantage over you), power crystals (Where there is a gimmick that hinders you) and, if you're really good, relics (where you need to beat a set of consecutive rounds against three super-smart competitors). And, of course, there are boss levels.

Battle mode allows you to play with up to 3 friends, so that means at anything up to four players can compete at once. Once again, the players pick their character, but this time they have four more options: Which mini-game they want to play, whether or not they play an "Every critter for themselves" or a co-operative gameplay, how many trophys you need to win to end the game, and, where applicable, how hard a fight the computer puts up.

And finally, there is tournament. Here, you play any set of mini-games (so, for example, all the crate throwing games, all the Pong games etc). The same rules apply as in the battle mode, except it is everyone for themselves.

CHARACTER DIFFICULTY
A party game shouldn't be too difficult, no matter what. Crash Bash's eight characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that can really make or break how well you do in the adventure game. But with enough practise, you should at least be able to beat the last boss with all eight characters.

Of course, you may be tempted to go with Crash, the hero of the tail. Well, you could try. He certainly can hold his own in the earlier levels, but you may have an extreme problem in the combat levels, where his attacks are underpowered and rubbish. His little sister Coco isn't much better. She's weak. Thank heavens for Tiny and Dingodile. YES, you did read that right, Tiny and Dingodile are fighting for Aku Aku. He took them under his arms because Uka had too many players on his team. Tiny is AWESOME in the combat games, and has the potential to destroy anyone real quickly. But if you really want to go far, ignore what EVERYONE says in the FAQs and pick Dingodile. He's a well balanced character, with good attacks, and an advantage in one of the secret games.

The bad guys, on the other hand, just don't cut the mustard. Our favourite villain, Dr Cortex, is Crash's complete opposite. He's pretty good at some of the games Crash is bad at, and hopeless at some Crash is good at. This game sees the return of two characters from the olden days. The first is N Brio, but he is just as good, or bad, as Cortex. But then there's Koala Kong...and he is AWESOME! He plays pretty much like Tiny, and I like playing as him more because of his laugh. Finally, it's worth a mention that Crash Bash is the ONLY Crash multi-player game where a new-comer is immediatly playable. The new-comer comes in the form of Rilla Roo, a gorilla-kangaroo hybrid. He plays like Dingodile, but I wouldn't recommend him. He doesn't seem to handle as well as the original mutant.

GRAPHICS
In the characters case, poor. Very poor indeed. The character designs, although resembulant of their ND days, are primitive in most ways. For one thing, everyone suffers from a severe case of "Facial Cramp", which means that they're stuck with the game facial expressions throughout the entire game. Even when, say, Tiny dies, he is still smiling. In fact, the characters don't even BLINK! Their hands are primitive as well, limited to blocks, with no fingers and very rarely thumbs.

Thankfully, the background graphics are much better. Vibrant, and very eye-catching. You see the debree of an exploding crate, and the flames that shoot out of Cortex's jetpack. Stunning, if I do say so myself.

SOUNDS
Not much to say here because it is somewhat limited. There are bits you'll like, and bits you'll never be able to stand. Some of the games music is very, VERY catchy, and with me, catchy tunes are hard to get rid of. On the other hand, some are just so...forgettable.

The same goes for the characters voices. Some are so wonderful, you'll be laughing every time they do. My favourite is Koala Kong. Others, like Dingodile are AWFUL with a capital...oh wait, I've just done that. Which leads me to another thing...the character voices are limited. Only the masks actually speak in sentances, the playable characters are just limited to a laugh, a few groans, and another random taunt. All in all, very disapointing.

BUY OR RENT
With Party games, you never really know what to expect. I bought it because I loved Crash. If you like Crash, I'd say buy it. If you like party games, I'd also give it a buy. If you don't, then I recommend you rent it first.

OVERALL
Crash Bash may not be perfect, but it is a totally respectable game. This was the first non-ND game to be made, and because of this, not the last.

Eurocom Entertainment Software, I salute you.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/30/06


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