Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced - Overview

The confusingly titled Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced is the sequel to Crash's first Game Boy Advance outing, The Huge Adventure (known as XS in some territories). Vicarious Visions' second go at a handheld Crash is a bit more original than its predecessor, but how well does it justify its existence as a whole?

Wearing a turban, Crash rides a magical flying carpet as a green genie floats in front of him. It's nighttime and they are out in an Arabian town.Despite the odd new feature here and there, the game will feel immediately familiar to long-time fans of the franchise.

Crash has the same moves and super powers as usual, two of which are available from the start: the double jump and the super belly flop. The remaining powers are unlocked by defeating bosses, and there's a couple of new ones for the collection: a super slide and an impossibly high rocket jump. Still no bazooka, though. There's no power for the last boss, but if you manage to beat it, you'll just prove you don't need more help anyway, since that fight goes on for much longer than it should (but let's not get ahead of ourselves).

There are some new crates required for certain segments: one gives you the copter-pak from The Wrath of Cortex, while the other one gives you a flying carpet and the ability to shoot projectiles while the screen scrolls automatically. A third new type of crate freezes every enemy on screen, but there is never any situation where this is warranted, so it's superfluous at best.

Crunch rolls inside a sort of giant hamster ball across a rocky landscape.The already divisive hamster ball levels made a poor transition from The Wrath of Cortex.

N-Tranced includes the same kind of pseudo-3D chase scenes that The Huge Adventure had, though in greater number now. Sometimes you'll be wakeboarding as Crash with a vicious shark on your tail, and sometimes you'll play as Coco in outer space while floating away from a fireball (or something). Crunch, who was introduced in The Wrath of Cortex, also has his own levels, which are just about the worst in the whole game. Remember the hamster ball levels from The Wrath of Cortex? Imagine those made much more dull with Nitro crates frustratingly spread everywhere. Breaking all the crates in these levels is mind-numbing because they look small and are extremely numerous. It's cool that Crunch actually has a 3D model in these levels, but he has no animations and is simply stuck on a T-pose all the time. It's almost like they forgot to give him an actual stance, which is in stark contrast with the nice graphics seen throughout most of the game.

Crash has his body half-submerged in water inside an Egyptian tomb.One of N-Tranced's biggest flaws is its lack of thematic variety and originality.

The regular platforming levels are the same as always, but boy, did they cut down on themes to differentiate them this time around. Variety goes out the window when you're forced to play the same 3 kinds of levels throughout: Arabian rooftops, volcanic island, and Egyptian tomb. While there are one or two levels that does something interesting for a change of pace (Wild Nile Ride being quite unique in terms of structure and level design), it gets very monotonous very fast. Not to mention most of the music in the game is, again, recycled from the Naughty Dog games (including themes that were already present in the game's predecessor).

New to the series (as far as platformers go) is a competitive multiplayer mode. You can challenge a friend to race you in any level you've previously beaten. It's also possible to participate in hamster ball deathmatches (or Atlasphere, as the game calls it), which are considerably more fun than the single player levels. The only downside is that since this is on the Game Boy Advance, each player needs his or her own console and copy of the game, along with a link cable to connect them both. It wasn't worth it at the time and it certainly isn't worth it nowadays.

While N-Tranced has more reasons to be played than its predecessor, there isn't much that you haven't already seen in previous Crash Bandicoot games, and the level themes get quite repetitive. A decent effort, but still not as good as it could have been.

The good

  • It's a longer adventure than its prequel
  • Good graphics for a Game Boy Advance title

The bad

  • More of the same
  • The Atlasphere levels are frustrating
  • Lack of variety in level themes
  • The music continues to be recycled from previous games
  • The last boss goes on for too long

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