playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews



Get your PSX games HERE!

Developer Naughty Dog Options
Distributer SCEE 1 Player
Game Type Platform Memory Card
Review Date January 1998 Analog
Screenshot No.1
Screenshot No.2
Screenshot No.3 
Setting the Scene
If 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 Pasta.

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.

Crash 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.

The 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.

Sounds and Effects
After 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 experience. Faultless.

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 cake.

The 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 hopelessly stuck.

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.

Value for Money
Crash 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.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 To 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.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 18/20

Get your PSX games HERE!