you were asked to name any three platform characters eighteen months
ago, it would be highly likely that Mario and Sonic would be
included on your list. Your third choice would probably range from
the ancient Manic Miner to the more modern heroes such as Rayman or
Jumping Flash. Posed with the same question now, a certain rodent
will undoubtedly top your list.
Following their highly successful launch of the Playstation, Sony
were desperate for a flagship character to lead their assault on the
video games market. So they teamed up with development company
Naughty Dog and duly hit the jackpot with Crash Bandicoot. Worldwide
sales have reached an amazing 1·75 million units boosting the
Sony bank balance by a staggering $120 million, £75 million or
134,625,000,000 Italian Lira. Now that buys a hell of a lot of
So how do Sony react to this phenomenal success? I'll tell you -
they polished their boots and kicked Naughty Dog straight back into
action for the sequel Crash Bandicoot 2.
After the destruction of the evil Doctor Neo Cortex's balloon, he
fell from the sky only to miraculously survive by falling straight
into a large opening in the ground. After a lucky soft landing the
Doctor hauls himself back onto his feet to view these new
surroundings - a vast underground cave. This is a perfect setting to
rebuild his new empire and once again plan world domination. That
is....... once a certain bandicoot is taken care of.
Bandicoot 2 - Cortex Strikes Back takes off from the point where the
first game ended and continues in the cute platform style that made
the original game such a huge success.
game opens with the Bandicoot crashing to earth alongside his
helpful little sister, Jo. After a small sample area to brush up on
old and new skills, you are thrust straight into the opening level
and, to be honest, it doesn't really look that different. Improving
the graphics for this sequel was always going to be an almighty task
because they were of such a high standard in the original game.
One or two definite improvements include the stunning water effects
where Crash takes to a motorized surf board. The fast flowing river
looks so realistic as he churns up the waters, negotiating numerous
perils such as floating mines and deadly whirlpools. Should he come
a cropper, Crash will kick and wriggle his way to the bottom of the
water before slowly rising back to the surface - face down. How sad.
During the snow covered levels you can visibly see how the the cold
air turns the Bandicoots breath into a panting mist, while wherever
he wanders a trail of paw prints are etched into the snow.
Occasionally he will need to slip on a pair of ice skates to pass
over a highly polished frozen pool or attempt a spot of slalom
riding through a winding course of electrified fences. Every level
has it's highlights with each animated to the highest of standards.
Graphically Crash 2 is a gem.
The visuals have been improved by increasing the polygons used for
the foregrounds and backgrounds. There are more detailed texture
maps and a slightly higher resolution for the graphics, while the
new camera angle has added a sense of freedom proving more helpful
to the player. Crash 2 not only features bigger levels but is packed
with new enemies and fresh ideas.
a few sessions of playing Crash Bandicoot 2 I sat down and tried to
recollect the music, but to no avail. Pop the game back into the
gray box, prick up your ears and the reason becomes obvious. Rather
than grab hold of your ear drums and scream "listen to me",
it blends in so well with the action and becomes part of the whole
The sound effects work in a similar way although the between level
holograms had me leaning towards the set, straining to pick up on
the dialogue. That aside, the game includes every whizz, bang and
crash of a quality cartoon, which is simply the icing on a very nice
character is relatively easy to control. He can jump, forward
somersault, tail spin, duck, crawl, slide and perform a wonderful
slapstick belly-flop. Crash also has many new moves to add to his
repertoire of actions such as the ability to hang from the ceilings
and climb up the surrounding scenery. As you progress, a jet-pack
may be strapped onto Crash to allow him the scope to fly around
levels. Other new tricks include the ability to ice skate, swing on
ropes, slide on ice and jet-ski over rivers.
Scattered around each of the levels are a large number of crates
which may be smashed open to reveal their offerings. Usually these
are just filled with apples which, once 100 have been collected.....
you guessed it, an extra life is received. However some crates are
quite hazardous and should be avoided because they are packed with
Nitro and TNT. This is not always easy because they are usually
strategically placed to slow down your progress.
Rather than stick with the idea of using several islands to
progress through the levels, Crash 2 uses a Warp Room. Each Warp
Room offers several exits which allows you to select which level you
wish to play, in any order. When all of the levels are complete
Crash will move onto another Warp Room with advanced levels.
Effectively the levels are grouped according to difficulty but this
system will allow you to try out another level if you become
Although Crash must still stick to a general path there will be
plenty of opportunities to branch off down an alternative route that
will be packed with goodies, but fraught with danger. The first
level, Turtle Woods, brings back the memories of the first game,
only this time it has started to rain and Crash wraps his arms
around his shoulders and shivers in the cold. Better keep him
moving. The rain brings a new type of hazard as large pools of mud
begin to form in the dips so Crash must wade through these right up
to his neck.
The screen is alive with movement. Butterflies flutter in and out
of the woods, discarded leaves tumble along the ground and of course
numerous animals scuttle along the trail. Most may be disposed of by
a quick tail whip, a sliding kick or flying body-slam but take care
which action you use as some tortoises have spinning saw blades
fixed on top of their shells or razor sharp thorns protruding from
the sides. Should he die a ghostly winged apparition of Crash will
float off into the sky.
There are initially five level styles. A gentle stroll through the
woods becomes a frantic dash to out run a swarm of angry bees and
irate woodcutters in Bee-having. Slip and slide your way past
rotating penguins and killer whales by riding on the back of a cute
polar bear. Take a trip down a fast flowing river past Crash-eating
plants and flying piranhas. Out run the boulders and giant polar
bear across a lengthy obstacle course fraught with exploding mines
and perilous pits. Avoiding electric eels and flame-throwing baddies
is the order of the day in the Sewer levels.
To advance onto the next set of levels you must collect a pink
jewel from every playing area while to complete the game properly
you need to acquire two hidden gems within each level. In each world
you will come across a bonus area which is littered with apples and
extra lives, while the eagle eyed may just spot those out of reach
platforms which transport you to one of the five secret levels. Once
each group of five themed areas are complete Crash must face a Boss
and defeat him to proceed.
Bandicoot 2 is an excellent platform game and will undoubtedly sell
by the bundle. If I have one gripe it would be that the levels are
fairly similar to the first game but the inclusion of the new
features and moves should provide a fitting challenge to most. The
difficulty is probably set at a sensible level although we are
already receiving grumbles from readers that they completed the
entire game in a few days.
be truthful I did not like the original game. I found it to be
packed with frustrations that did not allow the gameplay to flow.
Crash 2 on the other hand is much more appealing and I cannot
remember one occasion where I wanted to throw the control pad in the
direction of the furry freak. The tempo of the game is perfect. When
the going gets tough - it eases off a little. When you are plodding
along with ease - it moves up a notch.