SummarySony's answer to Mario... until the PS2 was released anyway
The GoodCrash Bandicoot is one of the very first games that I played on PSX, and I think that it is an excellent platform game. Two evil dudes, Dr. Neo Cortex, and his assistant, Dr. Nitrus Brio, create two devices that turn wild animals into evil geniuses capable of taking over the world. When the devices malfunction, however, the animals are turned into crazy monsters. A bandicoot named Crash, chosen to be the leader and having survived the experiment, is banished to another of Cortex's three islands, as he is no longer worthy. Now Crash vows to navigate the islands and stop Cortex's plan from going ahead.
The map that you use to navigate between these islands looks excellent. I like the way that you can rotate this map, giving you a good look at all three islands idea so that you know what to expect later. The levels are represented only as huge red dots, and are scattered throughout each island. Unfortunately, you can't just go anywhere unless you complete the previous levels first. There are a couple of levels which you can't access until you can access two rather dark secret levels in the game.
The gameplay involves Crash making his way through the different levels of each island while destroying various wildlife along the way. There are two methods of destroying them, and of these, I prefer Crash's spin attack because not only do you not risk missing them when you try jumping on their head, but by doing this you can actually make them spin into other enemies that are behind each other. Breaking each box in the level to receive a gem helps open alternate routes and new levels depending on what color it is. Once you complete a section, you can go back and replay it if you happen to miss one or two boxes (the game tells you at the end how many you missed).
If the creatures prove too much for you, you can get an Aku-Aku mask hidden in the occasional crate. I like this bit. While listening to a nice drum beat, you can walk quite a distance and nothing stops you unless you fall down a bottomless pit. Furthermore, you can break every crate without jumping or spinning at it.
Crash uses a variety of viewpoints/perspectives throughout the game. When I first started playing games like these, I had to get used to the new perspective where you are running away from the screen. This is the case with most of the levels in the game. Once I finally got used to this perspective, I liked it. A few of the levels just involve you running across the screen, starting from either direction, like most of platform games from the '80s to the mid-'90s.
The highlight of this game has to be seeing the number of ways that Crash dies. For example, crashing into a box full of TNT cause him to be blown to smithereens and his eyes to go up into the sky. Every level that I am completing I had to die a number of times just to see Crash's death animations.
As I mentioned earlier, there are three islands to navigate, and each island has its own setting. Of these, I like the first island, which has Crash exploring jungles and villages. It is this island that he also gets to ride a hog and run from a rolling boulder Indiana Jones-style. I found these types of sections challenging because you are given a certain amount of time, and have less time to carefully avoid pits and incoming creatures. I enjoyed navigating creeks and broken bridges way up in the mountains, which can be found on the second island.
The BadIt is so easy to fall down into a pit or get eaten by a creature when you are jumping or using a spin attack. You have a shadow to help you but I already got used to focusing on what is coming up toward Crash and not on the ground.
You also get to meet Crash's girlfriend, a sexy bandicoot named Tawna. There was nothing wrong with introducing a girlfriend into the picture, but if said girlfriend wears a skimpy outfit, along with a T-shirt which is so thin her breasts show through it, then that sends the wrong message to children, that bandicoots are nothing but sex symbols. I am glad that Sony removed her and she doesn't feature in future Crash games.
The Bottom LineCrash is a 3-D platform game, involving the player selecting a level on one of the three islands (which have their own theme) and making their way in 3rd-person view toward the exit, which look like a spinning SCE logo, while avoiding the many creatures that they encounter along the way.
To get 100% on the game, the player is encouraged to break every box in the levels and not lose a life. Gems are introduced which they will get by doing this. Some gems are required to open alternate routes throughout the level, but the player can't get these until they complete some of the later levels. So in conclusion, there is a huge amount of replayability involved.
The graphics are excellent, with beautiful environments to explore. The creatures that Crash encounters on his journey are animated nicely, and the bosses are a challenge to defeat, as they use a variety of methods to kill him. The individual levels can be selected on the map, and it is nice that the map itself can be rotated, to get a good look at the three islands and see what lies ahead. When it comes to the sound, the music is excellent. The sound effects are cartoon-like and really give Crash some atmosphere.
Crash is definitely Sony's answer to Mario. That until Naughty Dog decided not to release future Crash games for Sony's next console, the PS2. If SCE was established a long time ago (before 1995) and Crash Bandicoot was released around at that time, then we would have seen a platform game along the lines of Super Mario World since the concept of 3-D was not introduced back then. Anyone who wants to play any of the games in the Crash Bandicoot series really should get their hands on this game.