Crash Bash - Overview

With 3 platformers and a racing game in the bag, Crash and company say goodbye to the PlayStation with a party. The first title to not be developed by Naughty Dog, Crash Bash is a collection of mini-games that can be played solo or with friends. Was 2 spin-offs in a row too much for the ol' bandicoot, or did Crash Bash prove to be a worthy addition?

Crash, Cortex, Koala Kong, and Rilla Roo duke it out in a jungle by throwing crates at each other.One of the mini-games is a free-for-all battle with a lot of crate-throwing.

Though the game was developed by Eurocom Entertainment Software, a team with no experience with the franchise, it was also made under Mark Cerny's direction, which may have helped in preserving the traditional Crash Bandicoot feel. The visuals definitely look like Crash, though like in CTR, the higher amount of characters on screen translates into more polygonal and less detailed 3D models with no facial animations. The cutscenes have certainly taken a toll, not just because of the character models but also because of the choppy framerate, along with the only spoken dialog coming from Aku Aku and Uka Uka. The music sounds great, though - composed by Steve Duckworth, it's extremely faithful to the past games, even re-using many familiar instruments and remixing some well known themes. The new themes are catchy and they feel right at home with Crash.

There are 7 different categories with 4 mini-games each, resulting in 28 mini-games total. Each mini-game has its own rules, controls and quirks, and the usual idea is to get more points than the remaining players before time runs out, or to simply obliterate your opponents and be the last player standing. The 4 mini-games in each category are simple variations of the same rules, but things like the backdrop, the power-ups, and the basic gimmick get changed up just enough to keep your interest. Additionally, there are 8 playable characters to choose from, and each couple of characters plays uniquely in some categories. There will always be 4 players for every game you play, with any empty slots being filled by the CPU. Mini-games can be played as free-for-all or with teams.

The players try to shoot the balls into each other's goal by riding a bumper car.Crashball is a basic activity where players must deflect balls into each other's goal.

For starters, Ballistix games involve each player defending a different goal, which is essentially a border of the screen. Move alongside your goal and deflect the incoming balls into other players.

The second genre is called Crate Crush, and it's a basic destroy-them-all kind of game where you can either attack a player directly (such as with Crash's spin or Cortex's ray gun) or pick up and throw crates, which deals much more damage. Whoever you're playing as can make a difference in the outcome of a battle (for example, Crash is noticeably slower than Tiny when he has a crate on his hands, but his spin attack can slide crates along the ground much farther than Tiny's kick).

Polar Push will have you riding a small polar bear on an iceberg and trying to push the remaining players into the water. This is another game where you should choose your character wisely, because the strength of your push and your recovery time will be affected by your choice.

The players bounce from tile to tile to convert them to their color and score points.Bouncing from tile to tile, players must paint the board with their color to score points in Pogo Pandemonium.

Pogo Pandemonium is a more individualist kind of game where you have to jump between tiles to turn them to your color. You can cash in your colored tiles for points by picking up boxes or closing a circle of your color (depending on the mini-game), but watch out for anyone stepping into your tiles and converting them to their own color. The winner is determined by whoever has the most points before time runs out.

In Tank Wars, you'll have to drive a wee-little tank around a maze and shoot other players while dodging their attacks. You can rotate the angle of your shots and they will bounce off walls, so your best bet is to use corners. Different characters have different projectiles with unique velocity, strength and reload speed.

Crash Dash is a racing genre with extremely minimal, circular tracks. Finish 9 laps before the competition and you win, but be careful not to fall off the track and lose time. It's easy for players to knock each others out of the track by using turbo boosts or missiles, which makes these mini-games a bit chaotic sometimes.

Last, but not least, Medieval Mayhem is the only genre where each mini-game differs completely from one another. The first one will have you jumping to pop balloons of your color, the second one involves shooting gems at a moving target while riding a dragon, the third one is all about mashing mushrooms with a mallet, and the fourth one requires you to drop gunpowder from a keg and explode the barrels that spawn around the arena.

Crash rides a baby polar bear while fleeing from a mechanical one, as the giant Bearminator watches from afar inside his sub.Adventure mode includes some bosses to spice up previous mini-games.

True to the series's nature, there is an Adventure mode where you can follow the story and unlock new mini-games for other modes. This unlocking method isn't exactly the best, because if you're just picking up the game and want to play a competition with some friends, you'll have a very limited selection of mini-games to choose from until you get far in Adventure mode. On the other hand, this mode can, at least, be played with a friend, making its mini-games team-based against two CPU opponents. Just make sure your friend will stick with you to the end, because you cannot change to single player on that save slot once you've made up your mind. There are two sets of cutscenes to match player 1's character alignment (good or bad), but they're all very minimal, providing little incentive to play through both stories. If you're going to play with a friend, each of you should pick different alignments, as this nets you an extra cutscene and a competitive mini-game in the end.

Adventure mode presents trophy challenges where you have to beat the CPU in 3 separate rounds, which can get quite dull if you're playing by yourself, especially in earlier levels where the CPU is dumber than a dead rock. There are a few boss fights thrown in as well, which are exclusive to this mode. These are alright, if only because they offer a few interesting twists and you only have to beat them once. The last boss, however, is insanely difficult, but thankfully, it gets easier every time you lose, so it becomes more of a matter of patience than actual skill or luck.

The other challenges in Adventure mode are considerably worse. You get Crystal challenges, which consist of additional rules that put you in disadvantage and vary between easy and hard. Gem challenges usually reduce the time you have to win or make you do a flawless run, which can be frustrating sometimes and doesn't make things any more interesting. The good thing about Crystal and Gem challenges is that they only have a single round each, unlike Relics. Getting a Gold Relic means you have to win 2 consecutive rounds against highly advanced CPU opponents, and Platinum Relics force you to do 3 consecutive rounds. This will make you pull your hair out.

A circular race track with a big ooze monster appearing in the center serves as a mini-game.Chaos reigns supreme in small race tracks filled with hazards and a high chance of falling off.

Between having to play the same mini-game so many times or having to deal with the absurd rules or the cheating AI, Adventure mode is an absolute wreck, made all the worse by forcing you to play it to unlock new mini-games. Besides, if you have to spend the vast majority of the game playing alone, this means that by the time you play with your friends you'll already be much better than them, sucking much of the fun out of it. Here's a word of advice: once you've unlocked all of the mini-games, just stop playing Adventure mode. The remaining challenges don't unlock anything and are a complete waste of your time and sanity.

Battle mode is your basic option for playing any mini-game you've unlocked. You can choose the number of rounds and whether you want to play in teams, and this mode can be enjoyed by up to 4 people. Tournament mode is basically the same thing, but you go through all 4 mini-games of a chosen category to determine an overall winner. These are the modes you want for some fun multiplayer battles.

All in all, Crash Bash can be a decent party game, but first you need to spend a lot of time dealing with the painful stuff from Adventure mode, and then you'll need some friends to actually enjoy it properly. The initial selection of mini-games and the frustrating challenges you're forced to play make this title oriented for patient players and their friends only.

The good

  • Decent variety of mini-games
  • Multiplayer is fun, especially with 4 people

The bad

  • Playing alone is either boring or frustrating
  • Having to unlock most mini-games through Adventure mode
  • Being forced to play the same mini-games so many times in Adventure mode
  • The extra challenges in Adventure mode are often flat-out obtuse
  • You can't switch to single or multiplayer in Adventure mode once you've made your choice

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