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Retro game review: Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot in its early days was largely devoid of any inspiration. It was Mario but in forward and sometimes side-scrolling motion rather than being an entirely new entity. Crash Bandicoot released in the mid-90’s to plenty of fanfare from its target audience in which have grown up to be today’s adults-like myself. Having played the game again through recently, I considered how good it really was both now and at the time. Granted, the two sequels to the original largely overshadow the original and arguably the Mario-Kart rip-off does the same also. Yet what the game makes up for in abundance is character and difficulty.

Platforming games from the 90’s were difficult games indeed. From the masochistic insanity that was Ninja Gaiden on the SNES to the equally frustrating Rayman, platformers were at the forefront of gaming and were also equally damning. The original saw you take control of a Bandicoot in an adventure spanning many different levels and areas in which you were tasked in defeating the evil Dr Neo Cortex-who created Crash and also save his girlfriend Tawna. The player as Crash could run, jump, spin-attack foes and ride mounts in the game.

There is an undeniable lack of innovation in the original in which it was mostly rectified in its two sequels. It is at first glance somewhat Mario for the Playstation. Yet the difference lies in character and stylization. Mario was set on pretty fairly basic levels without much detail in design. Crash has you traversing through a variety of worlds. Jungles, creepy castles, tundras just to name a few. The variation in enemy design was also well done for the game as enemies could range in size and appearance. An enemy may appear innocent looking but it is far from it and one touch leads to a quick failure.

But what I found most appealing to this game over its sequels is the difficulty involved. With a harsh checkpoint system no hub, players had to make each life count and make sure in bonus round they did not fail which would lead to the cancellation of a save. This was particularly frustrating in boss fights where trial and error kicked in while the player had to maintain their lives due to lengthy checkpoints. Safe to say there would be an outcry to modern gamers if this was system was used in the next C.O.D.

The game boasts plenty of visual flair which still stands out today. The colours are vibrant and for its time detailed. Obviously leaps in graphics have come so far to make this game look dated. But graphics do not make games nor do they propel an ordinary game into a world beater. The game is good-slightly above average for platformers from the 90’s and able to make itself stand out. If a little underdeveloped and lacking a little life, the game has many other traits in which it has been able to solidify its standing over the years. Crash Bandicoot 2 and 3 are still superior to the original in just about every conceivable way.

The lack of true identity in the original hampers Crash Bandicoot from being remembered in the same way as its sequels. Yet everything that made the series so enjoyable is still there even to this day. It is enjoyable, fun and equally challenging.  7/10.

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