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Developer Argonaut Software/ Fox Interactive Options
Distributer E.A 1 Plyr
Game Type Platform Mem. Card
Review Date November'97 Analogue Pad
Setting the Scene
A few months ago Nintendo played their trump card. A certain plumber was re-employed to fix that leaking pipe which could easily have burst due to the constant pressure from the Sony 32-bit console. A touch of welding, a few new washers, a little flux to help with the fusion and... WHAM! Super Mario was back on the scene with a vengeance. A little older, a lot wiser and in total 3D.

Step forward Fox Interactive and Argonaut Software with their all new platform game Croc. He's cute, he jumps, he swims, he climbs, he swings and best of all he is also in total 3D. So can he reach the highest platform of will it be handbags and shoes for the little green crocodile? Let's put him to the test.

It all started one morning in the third month of the year Soupspoon (smokin'?). The King of the Gobbos discovered a small basket on the riverbank in which a baby crocodile lay. Deciding that he was not part of the Annual Midget Crocodile Basket Race, as first thought, he took Croc back to his village and there he instructed the Gobbos to raise the reptile as one of their own.

This was all fine until during one fantastic growth spurt Croc grew as tall as three Gobbos. He also became very accident prone, smashing into buildings and tripping over the little furry peoples homes. A simple game with his friends would lead to multiple contusions and internal bleeding. It was time for Croc to leave.

As Croc was gathering his belongings the valley was suddenly swarming with Dantinis, the Gobbos arch enemies, led by their king Baron Dante. King Rufus summoned Beany the Bird to whisk Croc away to safety. From afar Beany and Croc hatched their plot to rescue the imprisoned King Rufus and his subjects from the evil Barons grasp and so the adventure begins.

Previous platform games such as Crash and Pandemonium restricted the player to a predetermined track, not allowing you to venture from the rails, although occasionally your route would branch into multiple directions.

Croc is a platform game set in a fully three dimensional world that allows you to go anywhere within the boundaries of each level. The game contains over 40 levels which are divided into small themed groups. There are five different worlds to explore including volcanoes, ice glaciers and underwater caves, while eight bosses must be overcome to advance onto the next stage.

Croc is very nice to look at, very nice indeed. The lime green polygon crocodile will be an instant hit with the kids. Large blinking eyes, ever wagging tail, flared nostrils, two baby teeth and a Lara Croft backpack. The Gobbos are equally as cute making the task of rescuing them all the more worthwhile.

The enemies range from the small beady eyed Dantinis to giant rattlesnakes that occasionally raise their heads out from a well. Smaller rattlers act more like worms as they crawl just below the earths surface before popping their heads above ground like a periscope to check all around. Each has been well animated and combined they provide remarkable visual experience.

The scenery is equally impressive to look at. Bright, colorful and interactive. There is very little evidence of polygon clipping and only seemed to occur when you stand Croc next to a solid wall and flip him around 180 degrees. Even then, this was minimal.

The camera tracks Croc from above and behind while the shoulder buttons are used to toggle through the three available heights with each proving useful at different stages of the game. Should the viewing angle ever stray off-centre then a quick hop/flip action will return the camera to a central position.

The stunning graphics have obviously taken a fair chunk out of the Playstation's memory bank resulting in each level being divided into small playing areas. A door opens, a couple of puzzles, half a dozen jumps, then its through the exit door for the inevitable wait while the next section loads. This does slow down the pace of the game but no more that it did with Resident Evil.

Sounds and Effects
There are more than two hours of original music contained within the game in which a compression technique was used to cram it all in. The instruments are all played by real musicians rather than being synthesized and it's all presented in Dolby Surround for your enjoyment. It is cheerful enough although it occasionally drones on like a Sim City soundtrack.

Croc's cute looks are matched by a voice that Tex Avery would have been proud of. A swish of his tail will destroy the toughest of baddies with each thrust accompanied by a jubilant cry of 'Ka-boom, Ka-splat, Ka-pow'. All very jolly.

The gameplay follows the traditional 'Sonic, Mario' style. White Crystals are collected throughout each level. If you get over 100 then you will earn an extra life. There are also 5 different colored crystals to collect which will unlock a bonus area at the end of each level.

Croc's cuddly friends, the Gobbos, have been scattered across the lands by Baron Dante and you can find them hidden in crates, locked in cages or simply standing on a hazardous platform. There are six of them hidden in each level and when Croc touches them they will be magically reduced in size and then packed into his backpack. If you find every Gobbo and then defeat the theme worlds guardian, access is granted to a secret level. There are 8 secret levels to unveil and each contains a magical Jigsaw Piece. If all the pieces are collected then a mysterious fifth island will be unlocked.

Throughout the game you will come across many interactive elements. Boxes may be used to climb up to higher levels or simply smashed to reveal a cache of crystals. Occasionally you will come across a Gobbo who is trapped inside a locked cage. Croc must discover the whereabouts of the silver key to release his furry friend. Grabbing hold of the string from a floating balloon will carry you over hazardous areas or swinging hand over hand on the monkey bars allows you cross bottomless pits and pools of bubbling lava. There are also switches that activate moving platforms, giant jellies to bounce up to high areas and torches to brighten up darkened levels. Although you cannot scale the surrounding walls, certain levels do contain climbable sections where ridges are notched into the wall allowing Croc to reach another level. What platform game would be complete without the extra life icon which takes the form of a ruby red heart.

Value for Money
Croc breaks down the boundaries with superb visuals as the graphics almost reach the standard of Super Mario 64. The gameplay is simplicity in it's purest form and the puzzles will be solved in a matter of seconds but Croc has probably been moulded to suit the platform novice or the younger player. Nothing wrong with that as the PSX market is steadily expanding to cover all age groups and gender.

Its a 'must buy' for the kids and a probable purchase for those who don't like their games to be too taxing on the mind. Great fun and pleasing on the eyes.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 Finally the platform genre receives the full 3D treatment with an excellent effort from the Argonaut development team. The graphics are so silky smooth and the gameplay sticks with the proven formula which should guarantee that Croc is a smash hit. The game is Analog compatible with the right stick used to adjust the camera angle, but the left stick seems a little over sensitive for controlling the direction of the character and will often result in you falling from the ledges and platforms.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 18/20

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