Review by evilbacteria

"It's like the Olympics, but with slightly more bloodshed."

Graphics: 9
Sound Effects: 7
Music: 9
Originality: 8
Play Control: 7
Challenge: 9
Replay Value: 10
Overall: 9

I’m not much for sports games, to tell you the truth. I know next to nothing about most professional sports, and because of this I don’t tend to like games based on them. That being said, it’s no surprise that I loved Crash ‘n the Boys, as it has very little, if anything, to do with real sports. It’s a lot like Track & Field (who doesn’t love Track & Field, after all), except that it involves more violence and hitting. There are five absurd events in which to compete, gaining medals and visiting all sorts of pain upon your foes to win the day.

Good Points:
Think of this game as what would happen if the characters from River City Ransom decided to solve their disagreements in an Olympic setting. Of course, violence breaks out immediately; runners wail on each other with broken hurdles, swimmers hold each other’s heads under water, and the judo match becomes considerably more dangerous. This is most definitely a game for multiple players; it’s a helluva lot of fun with two people, and it can support up to four. It’s like Track & Field, like I said, except you can best your friends in athletic competition while you beat their heads in at the same time.

Bad Points:
There’s not much I don’t like about the game. With only five events, it gets kind of old after a while, and the plot is nothing more than a paper-thin pretext for good old-fashioned knuckle-bruising violence, but putting the game down for a week will refresh your appetite, and since when do sports games have plots anyway? I suppose the worst aspect is the fact that four of the five events are generally won by whomever can hit the buttons the fastest; then again, I’ve got pretty slow reflexes and I win most of the time, so it’s not a complete button-masher.

Being in the Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari series (most which, sadly, were never ported to America), the characters have a strong resemblance to those in River City Ransom, but, as this was released later, one would be right in assuming that the graphics are superior. All the characters are big and brightly colored, but they have a good deal of detail as well. Each person on your team has a different head and face shape that makes them distinctive (even though their bodies look exactly the same), and there are a few positively hilarious facial expressions they can go through at certain times.

Sound Effects:
The sound effects aren’t bad, not bad at all. While a few were recycled from River City Ransom, such as the sound of collecting coins or the sound of punching someone, most sound effects are new, and they serve quite well. The sound effects are far from realistic, but more importantly, they fit well with the game’s light-hearted motif and add some fun to it. For example, I don’t know what springing forward using a pole to vault over a chasm actually sounds like, but I like the sound they used in the game, and that’s really what matters.

The music, like the sound effects, may not be an example of brilliant composition, but it adds atmosphere to the game and fits well in its context. It’s fun, upbeat, and in some cases it really lends a competitive flavor to an already competitive game. This isn’t Mozart, but the music helps you get into the proper mood (that is, the mood to hurt someone).

While it’s hard to be original in a sports game and still call it a sports game, Crash ‘n the Boys did for the Olympics what NBA Jam did for basketball; made it fun by changing the rules. There aren’t many games like this one out there. In fact, I really can’t think of another one right offhand.

Play Control:
The good part: it’s fairly easy to get your guy to do what you want him to do. The bad part: doing so mostly requires hitting the buttons as fast as you can, especially in one or two of the events. The response time is a tad slow for my taste, and while I’m kind of twitchy when it comes to video games, it stills seems that the reaction time should be a bit shorter. Even so, it’s impressive what they managed to do with only two buttons; each event has half a dozen different things you can do, from throwing a piece of a broken hurdle at your opponent to hanging on to the edge of a building.

The game is hard at first, but it doesn’t take long to hone your skills, and you’ll be taking home to gold (or at least placing) in no time at all. The challenge is quite good, I’d say. Newcomers will pick up the basics quickly, and even veterans like me will have their skills challenged, simply due to the fact that the computer cheats a little bit, just enough to make it fun. I should point out that the Rooftop Jumping event is not impossible, no matter what anyone tells you; I’ve just about mastered it, but it does take a great deal of practice.

Replay Value:
One player, this game is not a lot of fun. With multiple players, however, it moves into the realm of great party games. This is the sort of game you sit down with a couple of friends and play for hours, sort of like a primitive Mario Party. It’s not very complex, and leaves a lot to be desired by oneself, but when there’s a crowd, this game shines.

Overall, I’d say I really like this freaking game. It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s fun to look at and to listen to, and most importantly, it’s fun to play, especially with friends. It’s not much of a sports game, now that I think about it, but it’s certainly a good game to have around when you’re looking for a video game to entertain a group of people. It has its flaws, but they’re minor when compared to just have fun this game is.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/21/02, Updated 09/03/02

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