Top critical review
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Overcome frustration, and this is a great game!
on 23 April 2002
I was quite amazed that Crash Bandicoot was coming to the GBA as one outstanding feature of the Crash series has always been the graphics and sound, which I was not sure the GBA could manage.
On that score, I was wrong. The GameBoy Advance produces some excellent graphics and sound here, complete with the traditional 'Crash running into/out of the screen' moments and all the familiar animations and enemies. The range of moves is also pretty much present.
There are 20 levels, fleshed out with collecting crystals, gems and relics (through time trials), so there is a lot of game going here.
That is, if you can overcome the problems of Crash Bandicoot XS. First up, it can be teeth-clenchingly difficult and just plain unfair. There are leaps of faith galore (where you are forced to jump having no idea what you are going to land on) which frequently involve you dying so you know what to do next time, some overly pixel-perfect jumping and some dodgy collision detection with enemies. OK, all platformers require precision, but the problem here is one hit kills most times so constantly repeating sections leads to the odd close-to-throwing-your-GBA moment.
This is all compunded by some suspect controls. Too often the jump button does not seem to work in time and you fall. Carrying out double-jumps and getting your spins right can be difficult. Sometimes control is far too sluggish and you die largely though no fault of your own. This is extremely frustrating when you are trying to grab every crate or whatever.
Frankly, Naughty Dog's decision to pass on the Crash franchise to other developers is not a good one for gamers. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex was disappointing on PS2 and in many respects it's the same here. The polished, fun feel of the original games is just not there.
BUT, it is still one of the best platformers on the GBA (especially if you are not a Mario fan) and you find yourself wanting to play through the difficulties so the game is doing something right. Worth buying, just try to keep calm!