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RELEASE DATE (NA): August 31, 1996 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

This bandicoot has crashed.

Crash Bandicoot, you horrible beast. Why must you torment me so? You lured me with your pretty face, but then you kicked me to the curb like yesterday's salami. You throw a goofy story my way about a crazed scientist who creates a mutant bandicoot and later rejects him as a member of his army-in-progress, only to have him come back with more fury than ever before and a penchant to rescue his love interest. Then, you make me spend hours and hours jumping around like an idiot on crates, skunks, and native island inhabitants for little reward. Yeah, Crash Bandicoot, I love you... like I love coughing up a kidney.

Let it be known that Crash Bandicoot is hard. The game seems to pride itself on pummeling my fragile gamer ego. Small children will most assuredly weep by the third level. Family pets will, if they are able, cover their eyes with their paws. Although this can often be attributed to some rough level design choices, I also blame the game design from a visual standpoint. Although some levels (or parts of them, at least) are presented in a gentle, nurturing side-scrolling fashion, many others suffer from clumsy platforming on the Z-Axis, as in a third-person perspective with the camera behind or even in front of Crash. I may be spatially inept, but I had quite the trouble judging distance from one platform to the next during these times, making potentially simple stages a far more treacherous endeavour. It gets worse when you are being chased by a giant boulder and you must run from it at a marathon runner's pace... TOWARDS the camera. And considering how close the camera is, you're actually jumping to the next platform (over bottomless pits) before you even see it. I shouldn't be playing a game with only "faith" as the mechanism that keeps me alive.

Dat dem's a broke vidja thang... yo.

Does this look fun? If you think so, the game is LYING to you!

The bosses are also amusingly ridiculous, and not just because they are flat-out goofy. The battles have a strange sense of equilibrium to them, mainly because they cover two extremes of the same difficulty spectrum, but never anywhere near middle ground. The battle starts out with high difficulty, mainly because you have no idea what you're doing. You have little to no indication of their vulnerability. So you end up perishing early on. Suddenly, it hits you like a cow patty in the face exactly how to defeat this critter, and then the battle becomes so easy that you frown at its simplicity. Even the final boss of the game is an absolute cakewalk when you determine what needs to be done. Heck, the final boss could very well be the easiest to decipher and defeat, which is another testament to questionable design choices.

Saving is certainly a challenge as well. I don't "get to save"; I have to "earn my right to save". You can't exactly save after every level or at least every few levels like a normal game. That would be too easy. Instead, you can save one of two ways. One way is to survive through an entire level without losing a single life AND breaking every single crate in the level (so that's probably not going to happen very often). The other way is to find three cards in certain levels with Tawna's face, which will take you to a bonus level featuring a save point at the end, if you get there. It's not perfect, though: the game froze on me once when I tried to save. But either way, it's a ridiculous save system that I am thankful was never reused in the game's sequels. Also, you can choose between saving on your memory card or obtaining a password. A password, for goodness sakes! Who is this for, the folks who can't afford a memory card? Stop buying PlayStation games if you're that short on money.

If there's something positive to say, it's that Crash Bandicoot has the distinction of being one of the few 3D games on the original PlayStation to actually not look terrible. The PlayStation didn't exactly excel with its polygon voodoo, but Crash Bandicoot is a nice-looking game. It's by no means the epitome of loveliness, but it works. Occasionally, they cheat with solid black surroundings in darker levels, but you can still enjoy a few good scenic, if pixelated, backgrounds. And the music! Well... wait, it's there? Oh... I guess it is. Didn't really notice.

Crash Bandicoot, you failed to impress me. Really, you did. But the rest of the world seemed to welcome you into their homes with open arms, and you sold well enough to warrant sequel after sequel, most of which were far superior. I'd like to try and forget our time together... but I can't. You're lodged in my brain! No! NO! This CANNOT be! Get out of my head, you devil dog! Ack!

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