Crash Bandicoot: WARPED - Overview

Released one year after Crash Bandicoot 2, the nutty marsupial's final platformer on the original PlayStation retains all the improvements from the previous game and couples them with a much larger variety than ever before. Is it just the right amount, or did the bandicoot lose his focus along the way? Let's delve into it.

Crash swims underwater with the help of scuba equipment. Two explosive mines float in his direction.Underwater levels are a completely new feature in Crash Bandicoot: WARPED.

Graphically, Crash Bandicoot: WARPED is very much like its predecessor, which is entirely justified by the fact that it already looked amazing to begin with. There wasn't much else that Naughty Dog could still do with the PlayStation hardware, but what little there was left to cover, you can find it here. The game is packed with little touches that are seldom seen in other PlayStation titles, if ever. From Crash's realistic shadow to the impressive water effects, it's easy to see why so many people claim that WARPED is the best-looking 3D game for this console.

Thanks to the game's time-travelling, globe-trotting shenanigans, the levels are set in many places that weren't seen before, such as medieval lands, pre-historic swamps, pirate seas, and more. Josh Mancell's music still fits the environments like a glove, and the bigger locale assortment means the soundtrack is more varied, even if Bonuses all use a variation of the main theme now and Death Routes share the same melody. As for the spoken dialog, it sounds a bit muffled and low quality compared to the clear voices from the second game, perhaps to save space.

Charles Zembillas's character designs make a triumphant return, thanks in part to the improved graphics. Crash has many more animations than ever before, with a unique death for almost every single enemy and hazard in the game. This not only makes losing a life that much more humorous, but it also makes it something you'll want to do on purpose just to see what happens. It's hilarious to see Crash pop like a balloon after touching some spikes, or have his lower half walk away from him after being cut in half by a knight. There are tons of visual gags like that.

Crash's sister, a blond orange bandicoot named Coco, rides a jet-ski on open sea waters.Time trials provide replay value for levels you've already beaten.

A major addition that comes with this game is Time Trial mode. After beating a level and retrieving its crystal, a golden stopwatch will appear on replays. Pick it up and a timer will start running. Your main objective is, of course, to replay the level as fast as you can, but it's not as simple as it sounds. For one thing, all of the checkpoints are removed, and crates are often replaced with different variants, most notably the all-new yellow time crates. Break one of these and the timer will freeze for the number of seconds displayed on the crate, and that is the key to beat the clock.

Though this adds a lot of replayability, it's hardly a simple afterthought, because Time Trials are interwoven with the game's extra levels. Finishing a Time Trial fast enough will get you a new type of collectible called a relic (sapphire, gold, or platinum, from slowest to fastest, respectively). For each 5 relics you collect, an extra level opens up, adding up to a total of 5 more levels besides the game's regular 25 (though 2 of the extra levels are really just alternate pathways for some old ones). These levels don't have the usual crystals, but they do have more gems and relics, all of which are needed for 100% and the good ending.

You only need to get all the sapphire relics for 100%, but there's an extra (if useless) little something for devoted players who get all gold ones. Be prepared for many bouts of frustration if you're going for the self-imposed task of getting all the platinum relics, and don't be surprised if it gets addictive when you barely fail to reach your next milestone. Beating the minimum requirements isn't too hard, but the lack of checkpoints does make it more frustrating than it should be.

Crash aims a large bazooka in a medieval field near wizard clad in blue.One of Crash's new powers is a fruit bazooka that lets him shoot things from a distance.

Crash controls almost exactly the same as before, and he has all his moves from Crash Bandicoot 2. His jump has once again been tweaked, and you can't stop him on a dime while in mid-air if you stop moving (though you can still pull back to reduce the distance and not land on something unpleasant). This is closer to the original game, so it takes a while to get used to if you're coming fresh out of Crash 2, but it ends up feeling natural after a while.

WARPED is also the first game in the series to support DualShock controllers, meaning you can feel various types of vibration under different circumstances. Hardly worth noting, you might think, but it's actually done really well: you'll feel a shock-like vibration when Crash is electrocuted, the whole controller shakes when there are tremors in the vicinity, and you'll feel appropriate amounts of vibration according to what your vehicles are running on, among other neat details. Most games that support this type of controller just make them shake generically in comparison, which is true even for consoles several years younger than the original PlayStation.

In addition to Crash's regular moves, he now gains a super power for every boss he defeats. The first power gives his belly flop a shockwave that can be used to smash stuff nearby. He also gains a double jump and an extended spin attack, which is not only useful for attacking, but also gliding in mid-air. Combining both these moves lets you get across large pits or skipping floating platforms with tricky patterns.

The fourth power is a Fruit Bazooka that does pretty much what its name implies. Every time Crash pulls it out of his pants, a crosshair appears and you can aim all around you. You can't shoot while moving, but it's very useful for destroying Nitro crates from a safe distance, as well as any enemies you might have trouble with or crates you can't reach. For some reason, it also collects goodies that get shot at, so there's that too. It never runs out of ammo, so you can go nuts with it. It actually makes the game a little too easy.

The last super power is the ability to make Crash run twice as fast. This is obviously best used in Time Trials, so it's wise to postpone those until you get this. It's the only way you'll get gold and platinum relics, and even if you're just trying to get sapphire, sprinting is still an obvious benefit.

As always, crates are a major gameplay element, and some minor improvements have been made to them. The crate counter on your HUD now tells you exactly how many crates you've got left to break, which means you don't have to reach the end of the level to find out. The bouncy 10-fruit crates have been tweaked due to Crash's slower bounce introduced in Crash 2: they now give you 2 fruits at a time, so you can get everything out of them twice as fast. There's also a completely new slot crate that rapidly rotates between different contents. Hit it when it stops on something good, but don't take too long, or it will become unbreakable and cost you your chance to get a gem.

Besides the addition of relics, the general system for collecting things is intact. Pick up the crystal in each level, break all the crates to get gems and so forth. One disappointing decision was how they did away with the inventive ways to get colored gems. Now you just get them by going through harder/unlockable pathways. Still, the game does have a couple of secret levels with even more cryptic access methods than in Crash 2, but this time they're completely optional. In fact, beating them will make your completion percentage go beyond 100%...

Coco and a tiger cub jump in the air to avoid a dragon kite along the Great Wall of China.Coco will sometimes ride a small tiger across the Great Wall of China.

The gameplay changes both drastically and often in this title, since there are many levels where Crash isn't simply running along a path. He will sometimes swim underwater, control a vehicle, or let his sister Coco take the helm. As a result, WARPED had the most variety in the series upon release. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how much you like the new vehicles.

Going underwater may seem weird for a character who's never known how to swim, but that's before you realize Crash is wearing scuba equipment. The game's two underwater levels play strictly in 2D, but you can swim in any direction you want. The water does nothing to hinder Crash's spin attack, so you can still use it normally, and you can swim faster by tapping the jump button repeatedly with rhythm. You can also find a jet-sub that lets you move faster, charge, and shoot.

Coco often takes the spotlight from her brother in certain levels, but she's just there to control certain vehicles, as well as a tiger cub named Pura. He's the replacement for the previous games' warthog and baby polar bear. Pura's default speed is slower than the two of them, but he can charge indefinitely to make up for it, giving you better control over the situation. And hey, it's cute to see him and Coco nuzzle at the end of each level. Aww!

Crash rides a baby T-Rex in a pre-historic swamp filled with large dinosaur bones and small pools of lava..Crash's new pet in pre-historic levels is an adorable baby T-Rex.

Speaking of cute baby animals that you can ride, Crash gets his very own T-Rex hatchling for very brief moments, and unlike Pura, he's not constantly on the move. He can run faster and jump much higher than Crash, and he can break crates by just ramming into them. It's just a shame you never get to use him for more than a couple of minutes in the entire game, because he's essentially a power-up that's rather fun to use.

The jet-ski is a vehicle controlled by Coco in the middle of the ocean. You'll find yourself launching off ramps at high speed, and you're free to move and stop as you please. These are the first completely open levels in the series, with ample territory to ride through delimited only by buoys. Since you're free to go anywhere inside the boundaries, the camera isn't fixed like usual, which can become a bit problematic when you turn in place, as it only repositions itself when you're moving (for some reason). You'll also notice how nice the water looks for a PlayStation game! Just try not to get too frustrated when you're going for the gem. It's easy to leave a single, lousy crate behind, and these levels are huge compared to anything you've seen in a Crash game before.

Crash can partake in some high speed stunts too. Donning a pair of sunglasses and a rider jacket, the orange boy will sometimes hit the road on a motorcycle and race against Cortex's road hogs. Watch out for police cars and try not to veer off the track, or you'll lose precious time and get left in the dust (though at least you don't lose a life in these levels). Jump over potholes by riding off ramps and hit green turbo pads to do a wheelie. The bike will run much faster while you're doing a wheelie, but steering becomes very difficult (you can prolong your wheelie until you're forced to do a tight turn or hit something). These levels can be quite annoying when you're trying to break all the crates because you can't turn around, forcing you to restart from the beginning whenever you miss one. This is even more of a chore in a secret night level where your headlight is your only means of illumination.

Lastly, you'll be able to take it to the skies on a bi-plane. Though there is some freedom in movement, these levels are usually shaped like a big circle, and you can't wander off too far. Your main objective is to shoot down blimps or airplanes, and a ring race will expect you later on. Your other move is a roll that lets you avoid enemy fire, which is important to keep your health bar above 0% (though you can replenish it by shooting health balloons). The controls are a bit annoying due to the bi-plane constantly snapping back to being parallel to the ground, so aiming at an angle is impractical, as you constantly have to tap up or down.

The one thing everyone can agree about Crash Bandicoot: WARPED is that it boasts more content and variety than its predecessors. Whether it's justified or a turn for the worse depends largely on how much you like all the vehicles. Other than that, it does very few things wrong. It looks, sounds, and plays great (besides all the vehicle quirks anyway), and it definitely deserves a place in every platformer lover's collection.

The good

  • Arguably the best-looking 3D game on the PlayStation
  • Greater replay value than the previous games
  • It retains most of what made Crash 2 so good
  • Great use of the DualShock's vibration

The bad

  • The vehicle levels can get a bit numerous depending on who you ask
  • Some Time Trials are frustrating and there are never any checkpoints in these
  • Breaking all the crates in jet-ski and motorcycle levels is simply annoying
  • The controls for the bi-plane are awkward
  • The colored gem puzzles are gone

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