Crash Bandicoot Fusion - Overview

Vicarious Visions' last Game Boy Advance title sets itself apart from the rest by featuring a crossover with Spyro the Dragon. This time, platforming plays second fiddle to a host of mini-games, resulting in an unusual mix that we're going to take a look at.

Crash jumps over the flames coming out of a lab assistant's flamethrower. They're on a volcanic area at night and the crescent moon is visible in the starry sky.The platforming is similar to previous games in the franchise, but a bit simplified.

Crash Bandicoot: Purple is one half of a crossover completed by the similarly-titled Spyro: Orange (each one has the "Fusion" moniker in most regions outside North America). Both games are side-scrollers, which means not much has changed for Crash in comparison to the previous Game Boy Advance adventures. The story is the same in both games, but it's told from different perspectives according to which game you're playing. While Spyro is running around in Crash's islands in Orange, Purple lets you play as Crash in Spyro's realm. You'll see some familiar faces from both franchises here and there, but the character interactions and the extent of the crossover's appeal are quite limited, and frankly, boring. You'll notice this remark cropping up a few more times, as "boring" is the best way to describe Purple.

Crash's abilities have been significantly trimmed for some reason, as he's only capable of running, (double) jumping, and spinning now. On the flipside, for the first time in the series, there isn't a lives system. This means that you never have to worry about getting a Game Over. When it comes down to it, lives are pointless remnants from old arcade games that do nothing but add a fake layer of longevity for inexperienced players. Getting a Game Over either implies losing progress or restarting you at the last save point, which can be either frustrating or pointless. Purple, of all games, is the first in the series to understand that.

Crash tries to lift a barbell with large blocks of ice as weights, while Crunch watches over him. They're standing inside an icy cave, and a goat and a polar bear can be seen frozen nearby.There are several short mini-games to complete throughout the adventure.

Purple is more of a mini-game collection than it is a platformer, though, so there are only five levels - or rather, hubs - where you get to do the usual running and jumping. No breakable crates in these either, which just further sets the game apart from its predecessors. The hubs are less linear than your typical Crash Bandicoot level, and you'll need to explore them to find the mini-games required to advance. Even though none of the hubs are particularly huge, it's easy to get lost in them since their design is a bit haphazardous and there aren't any real points of reference.

The mini-games themselves are just as simplistic and, unfortunately, boring. Some of them are borrowed from Crash Bash, but as you might recall from that game, they're better suited for playing with company. This does little to alleviate the fact that most of these mini-games get dull fast. At the time of Purple's release, the stuff it had to offer hardly justified finding someone else with a Game Boy Advance and a separate copy of the game (plus a link cable to connect both consoles together), let alone in this day and age. If you're just looking to beat the single player campaign, a few short hours is all it takes, but there's no sense of accomplishment in beating something this easy.

A red card depicting Fake Crash.Trading cards can be found in hub worlds or acquired by beating some mini-games.

There would be nothing left to discuss if Purple and Orange hadn't gone with the arbitrary decision to feature in-game trading cards. You can find these little trinkets hidden in hubs, at the end of some mini-games, or hoarded by greedy bear Moneybags, who has somehow mistaken your Wumpa fruits for currency in this game. Cards have no effect on anything, so they're exclusively there for completionists. There are a total of 200 cards to find (100 for each franchise).

Here's where this crossover gets really shameless: it's evident that the biggest reason for these games' existence was to cash in on two franchises at once. However, both Purple and Orange have one card each that you can't get unless you link it to a second copy of the same game. Basically, they were trying to double each game's sales by tapping into their completionist consumers' frustration. It's really quite despicable.

In the end, Crash Bandicoot Purple boils down to a generic, short, and boring crossover. From its lack of focus to the painfully mediocre mini-games, the only thing that could have been interesting about it, the trading card set, is marred by not actually doing anything besides being part of a vile marketing scam.

The good

  • Removal of the archaic lives system

The bad

  • Cheesy crossover that does nothing interesting for either franchise
  • Dull mini-games
  • Too short and easy
  • You need to link two copies of this game together to get all the trading cards

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