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Crash of the Titans
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Platformer - Action
Release date: 10.02.2007
Ah, yes. How I?ve longed to recapture those innocent bygone years of wistfully wasting away countless days, plastered to my television in hopes of double jumping off an obscure rock, onto a waterfall, to find yet another well hidden level that you would have never known existed save for a walkthrough on the internet and a tell-tale imperfect score after actually thinking you had completed the original Crash Bandicoot title. Yes, it?s good to know that Radical has gone out of their way to throw caution to the wind and resuscitate a long lost friend for the return of Crash Bandicoot.

The platformer is a genre of game that was completely redefined by Crash Bandicoot in the late 90?s! Okay, that would just be a slightly unqualified distortion of reality as in fact a little breakout, monkey hating, plumber on Nintendo, and an equally obscure, and ?alleged? speed freak of a blue hedgehog, on Sega, were already doing battle in the great console mascot platform wars of ? yore. Somehow during the scheduling conflicts of these two gaming iconoclasts? underwhelming television and movie debuts, PlayStation unabashedly tossed their own ?unofficial? platformer mascot into the fray in hopes of getting a little attention for their humble console. From what I can remember though, it was a really cool game.

?Crash of the Titans? seeks to breathe fresh air into the retro-sensibilities of the platformer by taking the approach of making our hero more of a fighter, and less of a lover, in a new improved combat focused title. Gone now is the constant spinning and mango eating of the original title replaced by ?new fancy kicking, orb grabbing, and occasional mango eating.

In fact we?re not talking about just any kicks. We?re talking about an arsenal of break-dance style, kung-fu fight moves that are sure to impress even the old-school break dance warriors who used to get chased home semi-regularly by their high school wrestling team. Also, Crash has parlor tricks like a new helicopter spin move that allows him to gently float down after big jumps, and even neater hover-board challenge sequences. Then, there is the twist! It?s called ?Jacking?; which I can only imagine would be a potential topic of alarm, accusation, and confusion by parents who unwittingly stumble in on the darkened rooms of gamers who own this title on the Wii.

This new improved fight mechanic allows for Crash to stun an enemy and then use their inherent strengths by basically possessing them by slapping them with the Aku-aku mask. The interesting strategy behind this is that it allows you to use smaller enemies to successfully overcome larger enemies and work your way up the food chain until you have defeated the final boss. This in itself was a great idea on paper, but unfortunately the gameplay here is littered with pretty linear missions, only broken up with the occasional mini-game where you accomplish timed tasks like taking out everyone in a room. And, although an occasionally challenging, and a welcome addition to the game, these mini-games did little but to distract from a pretty monotonous button masher.

In spite of this, one neat addition was the co-op mode where you can actually ?Jack? a co-player, or Crash clone, allowing you to help another player get past things like difficult jumps, or even have one player attack a bad guy while the other jacks an enemy and runs interference. It seems that on a lot of levels, parts of this game were created for this sort of play, and I can see where this would have appeal for younger players. Just remember to turn off leapfrog mode or each time Crash jumps, control switches to the other player.
The game looks great. Everything from Crash?s new fancy tribal arm tattoos to more stunning environments and visual effects show that a lot of time went into making the levels to make them more stunning than previously seen for this franchise. A lot of time was also spent on lighting and particle effects. The only reservation I have to offer is that visually the rendering of the characters has not evolved too much since the PS versions and they look slightly box cut still. The bad guys and henchmen look great but because of the mass amounts of redundancy in the numbers of them that you will have to clear in certain levels, this will do little to make the game seem more interesting.
Overall, the sound was good with exceptional voice-over acting. Cortex and all the characters sound just as funny as ever. I thought the Henchmen?s conversations were hilarious to listen to, but once again became a little redundant when you were tasked to clear a whole room of them out. The only notably strange addition, having not played with this franchise in a few years, seemed to be Crash?s weird semi-retarded squeak noise voice.
replay value
I believe this game is intended for younger gamers which sort of alienates the veteran gamers who would also appreciate a good return to a classic platformer. And, although, this title does leave a lot to be desired, I can see how elements like co-op mode would be appealing to the novices...and their grandmamas!

That said, I don?t think this sort of game would have much replay value because of its very linear gameplay and button mashing fight engine. The game is very visually stimulating but it lacks the same level of challenge that hooked you in with the original games of this franchise. Aside from the occasional overwhelming circumstance of being dropped in an area between too many bad guys to actually be successful against, this title doesn?t offer any real challenges for the player.
bottom line
This is a tough one. I do have sweet spot in my heart for my childhood hero. I would have to say though, that as a savvy consumer there really isn?t enough meat and potatoes here for me to say this is a good title worth buying and replaying again. Then there is the kid factor. Not enough games are created to cater to this demographic, but it seems that for Crash of the Titans too much effort was made to dumb it down.

I think the success of a game is in how engaging it is to a user. You need to create a challenge that goes far beyond that of just not falling asleep. As a gamer, I need to feel like I?ve accomplished something when I finish a game. Give me the bragging rights! I did not feel like I accomplished anything here, with the exception of avoiding human interaction.

Would I buy this? No. I honestly think it?s just a rental. Even if I had a 3 year old in the house, I would rather have him play with matches, or watch Dora the Explorer, than know that he is wasting endless hours on this sort of mindless tripe.

Kudos to Radical for attempting to return back to the basics of the Crash legacy that seemed to be left behind by Naughty Dog, but this title falls short of anything worth owning. The truth is a good license just is not enough. You need to create a good game then everyone novice and veteran can appreciate it. This just lacks the heart of the original!
Review by: Michael Preston Igartua
Posted: 11/30/1999
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