Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: September 28, 2004
Crash Bandicoot is back for another attempt at success on the PlayStation 2. In the days of the PS One, Crash was the top bandicoot in the industry, incredibly successful in multiple titles for the platform. With Sony’s sequel platform, Crash’s popularity faltered on the PS2, most notably for the ho-hum games he was involved in.
Crash’s career is in that lurch where two paths lie ahead. The slide can continue and Crash will be lent out for embarrassing outings, much like a washed-up prize fighter, grabbing what cash he can before getting KO’d in the fourth round by some unworthy opponent. Alternatively, Crash can fire his agent, get back in shape, and find a way to turn around his popularity with some quality roles and regain his status as bandicoot of the year.
The rumor is that Crash has indeed hired a new agent who has pushed hard in negotiations for the upcoming release of Crash Twinsanity. Vivendi has openly expressed their commitment to create a title to revitalize the bandicoot’s popularity by putting together a game with solid gameplay and some innovation from the typical fruit-gathering activities of previous titles.
If Vivendi were to come through for Crash, they would need to enlist some serious creative help. Crash is one of those characters who has been boxed-in by previous roles, and success really only lay in creating a new experience while staying true to Crash’s roots. With Traveller’s Tales as the developer, Vivendi tapped seasoned Hollywood animation producer Jordan Reichek to make sure the new title is a winner.
The resulting game, Crash Twinsanity, appears to marry tradition and innovation in an offering that may just be good enough to brighten the future of our batty bandicoot, if development continues to match the preview we recently experienced. Arch-nemesis Dr. Neo Cortex returns in this episode, initially leaving us to fear the worst – another sequel, but this time with some zany antics. Quickly, it becomes obvious that the whole Crash Bandicoot concept has been turned on its ear, making Crash and Cortex reluctant allies in response to a common threat.
We join the story with Cortex cross-dressing as Crash’s sister, Coco, to lure Crash into a trap and teach the user how to control the bandicoot. Cortex really needs to go to San Francisco’s Asia SF restaurant for some pointers in cross-dressing, as he turns out to be about the ugliest transvestite ever. Then again, how scary would it be if Cortex was good at looking like a girl? Anyhow, Crash follows although he can’t possibly believe the thing he’s following is his own sister. This initial scene ends with Cortex revealing his identity, and recounting just how much he wants Crash dead.
Crash survives, and the two get in to a perpetual wrestling match for the second scene, Cavern Catastrophe. Here the pair roll around on the ground while wrestling, allowing them to move as a ball, much like the Atlasphere operation in Crash’s prior experiences. Once a valuable crystal is found, the dynamic between the two enemies becomes a tug-of-war, where Crash essentially uses Cortex as an extension of his body for attacks, but can also throw Cortex for help in a pinch. Although the toss skill is meant to get Crash through a couple of key spots in the level, it was amusing to see how many ways Cortex could be thrown to his death only to reappear next to Crash for more punishment.
Twinsanity continues with a level where Crash must save Cortex by clearing a path for him to escape danger by quick response to little puzzle-esque challenges. Cooperative action is definitely established as the theme, in keeping with Twinsanity as the title. But, we have to ask, “Is this going to be enough to put Crash back on top of his career?”
In Crash’s favor, the game is quite dynamic. Although most of the movement is fairly linear, the maps are very well designed with a variety of gameplay options that follows a wacky plot. Dragging Cortex around can get annoying, but that’s what he’s always been around for, so it should be no surprise that he is a pain in the rear once again. Indeed, the imagination of the creative team is quite evident in the many variations throughout each level.
Control of Crash is good, but he is a bit too squirrelly at times, making precise movement frustrating. It is also easy to perish in Twinsanity, but this is offset by the ease of gaining extra lives throughout the levels. Tandem operation of Crash and Cortex was quite an innovative development both in plot and operation, and it seems the game will remain true to its title by keeping our odd couple together throughout the game.
The humor really adds to this offering, with amusing dialogues and cut-scenes. However, the soundtrack does not yet sound finished, so we expect that Traveller’s Tales will incorporate greater musical variety into the score before release. Visually the game is very much the same as prior titles, maintaining a familiar consistency, but with a better defined environment, making the game more pleasing to the eye.
With the all-ages gameplay, and a whole new approach on the relationship between Crash and Cortex, Twinsanity already shows some real promise for reviving the career of our favorite Bandicoot. Between the plot, the maps and the strange bedfellows, a lot of new and exciting things are happening. Crash Twinsanity is not an earth-shattering release, but if everything stays on track, Crash Twinsanity should be good enough to make our guy a contender once again for the championship bouts. Will it be the blockbuster hit for this fall? At this point, only Crash knows, and his translator wasn’t available for comment. We’ll do our best to track her down – look forward to getting the final say in our review next month.
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