Release Date: October 2006
Well … Crash is back.
Crash Boom Bang! is sort of weird, in that it's the first game in the long-running Crash series being made by a Japanese developer. For Crash's DS debut, the reins have been given to Dimps, the house behind Dragon Ball Z: Budokai.
As a result, Crash Boom Bang! has taken a turn for the anime. (Look, Mom, I'm using nouns as adjectives!) The game is more colorful than its American predecessors were and definitely more cute; Crash has gone from looking insane to looking animalistic, and more like the walking cartoon he started off as. Similar makeovers have been given to his sister Coco, Dr. Cortex, Fake Crash, and the host of other available characters in Boom Bang!.
It's also a notably demented party game, combining the mini-game-based play style of titles like Mario Party with the DS's touch-screen functionality and a hearty dose of multiplayer competition. Four players can take each other on in 40 different mini-games, from the expected to the surreal.
Festival Mode is uniquely demented, much like Crash himself. Up to four players can compete, exploring a city to find mini-games and land on various tiles. By winning or placing in the mini-games, you can earn points that are used to buy the 80 available items, such as new articles of clothing for your characters ... and yes, Virginia, you can put the girls' clothes on the guys. Dr. Cortex looks adorable in Coco's outfits.
Of course, now I'll never be clean again, but that's the price you pay for being a big-deal games writer.
The mini-games are, like Wario Ware, simple. The Pizza Shop mini-game challenges you to spin out a piece of dough and flatten it before slapping on toppings and throwing it in the oven; whoever makes the most pizzas before the clock runs out is the winner. Other mini-games include a hammer throw; a pony race where you tap your pony's ass to drive it forward faster; and a card game that works like three-card monte.
What really makes Crash Boom Bang! stand out here is that nonparticipating players don't have to just sit there and wait for the end of a game. You are able and encouraged to place bets on the other players, and then hedge that bet by cheating like a bastard. You can use various items to mess up the other players' games, or send messages to the competitors. In so doing, you can give one guy the key to victory, or you can completely ruin one player's concentration.
Crash Boom Bang! is going to require that each of the four players own a copy of the cartridge. It looks like it could be fun, but we've got our misgivings; there's a fine line between elegant simplicity and total boredom. We only got to see one-tenth of the available mini-games, though, so it's far too soon to make a call on this one. Importers can get their hands on this one as early as July, while the rest of us will have to wait until October.