Three successful platforming games and a popular racing game down the line, Crash Bandicoot was doing great. It rivaled Mario in a fair contest of both platforming and racing that was unique to its own, and given the choice, I can't really pick between the two which I prefer. It was around this time that a party game of some sorts had to come out of somewhere for such a popular series (one of which I have surprisingly not seen yet for Spyro the Dragon), and I had to accept this. Many of the other franchises have fallen to this route, especially Mario, whom have made several party games by now. So with their victory of Crash team racing matching that of the racing game "Diddy Kong Racing", I figured they went one step forward and created Crash Bash. And well....uhhh....what can I say without swearing like a sailor? It's not that it's a bad game, it's just an unrealistically unfair chain of events that put the player at a poor handicap of stupidly hard and luck based challenges....actually, that does make it a bad game. Along with a completely stupid and what seems like a hardly thought out storyline and a collection of repetitive, time consuming and prolonged set of games with challenges that are a mixture of "oh, that's creative and fun" fun, and "geezs when will this end....THERE'S ANOTHER ONE?" 'fun', it really all builds up to a frustrating and annoying game that really is a jerk. I hope you can all appreciate how much I am trying not to swear during this review. Seriously, I feel like the AVGN on the verge of one of his out-bursts of telling a game how it should....*ahem*....
So the game starts off with Aku-Aku and Uka-Uka having a talk on some weird ruin thingy in space with some steel sticking out of it. I still don't understand how they are using futuristic stuff for something of the past...anyway, Uka-Uka has had enough, and Aku-Aku agrees that they need to settle this. Uka-Uka then goes to commence in a fight with Aku-Aka, but he stops his evil twin brother, saying the Ancients would not allow menace between the two....even though at the end of the third game, Warped, Aku-Aku and Uka-Uka fought each other to the death in the final boss. I'm pretty sure that's menace between the two. I'm pretty sure that's classed as a fight that the so called "Ancients" would not allow. What is it? Some sort of signature hand shake that you two thought up and always used when you "didn't agree on something"? Judging how you two are more or less on the opposite ends of the ethics spectrum, I highly doubt those death rays and explosions you threw at each other were merely a way of saying hi to each other. I mean, come on! Did you even think about this?
Okay, so instead of fighting, which they clearly did in the third game, Aku-Aku suggests a contest between good and evil. Hey remember when it was all about Neo Cortex and his plans to take over the world with an army of mutants, or a huge death ray? I miss those days.... So the two gather up their team mates and teleport them to the area where they two masks were talking, however, it's two against six, and Aku-Aku demands that Uka-Uka gives up two members of his own team to even up the scores. And so the games begin.
This game offers a two player story mode, so you can team up with a friend and play the entire game together, which i highly recommend. One player mode means that it's 3 against 1 (despite what it might seem, the AI cheats and will make you feel like your fighting the world), but with two players, you create a team and even up the odds. You can either pick a character and play for the good team, or the evil team, both of which will yield different endings. You can pick a good and evil character in two player mode, and the game won't stop you. You get a little extra something at the end if you do. There is also multiplayer for every game that you have unlocked, and using an adaption, you can play with three other players in that mode, which makes all the annoying AI disappear : D Sadly, you can't make that happen in the main game.
You start off in warp room 1, with four levels and a boss level, locked away, as well as a save panel and a transportation to the other warp rooms when you open them up. The four levels you have access to now require you to beat your opponents three times in order to win a trophy. There are four different types of games so far, pinball related, knocking each other off the edge on polar bears, throwing creates at each other and jumping around on pogo sticks (Why does good and evil need to do that again?), the latter three are okay, but the pinball related one is time consuming in its own right. It's kinda fun to begin with, but after a while you just wish that you didn't have to do it three times. I mean, doing all that once is enough, but three times? And that's not counting if you lost or not, and you have to do more pinball games, and it just takes a lot of energy to get through. Not to mention it's very random and annoying. I recommend saving after every pinball related item you get, seriously.
After you collect the trophy from a level, you have access to a gem and crystal challenge, which you'll need later on to get to the later boss levels. Later after the third warp room (the instruction booklet says that it happens after completing four warp rooms, this is WRONG! At least in PAL version), you have access to gold relics. Much later on, if you can make it that far in warp room 5, you'll have access to platinum relics. Relics are only needed to get to the bonus levels after warp room 4, that is their only purpose. The bosses are mainly related to the Crash Bandicoot universe, such as polar bears, the komodo brothers and even Oxide makes a return (even though, you know, he was so shamed for losing in the CTR game that he was to never to return or something like that....), which I must say are all executed fairly well, and I dare say fun and fair. The best part of the game, in fact, apart from pressing that power button...
The gems offer a game that gives you a huge disadvantage over the opponent. You either have to defeat the players in the allotted time, or defeat them in a single match where you have less life or need to score more points then they do. Gem challenges are by far the most unfair things you have ever seen. Once again, the pinball gems are by far the most relentless. You will need a lot of will power to get through it, it is possible, but just be prepared to see that "FAIL" sign more than a couple hundred times. The others are annoying, but not nearly as relentless. Crystal challenges let you play with a unique twist to it all; even the background changes. This always leads to a fun way to play the game, and is the fun kind of challenging. The pinball crystals are as about relentless as the gems, though, and just as less fun. Relics I assume you have to fight the champions of the mini-game, and you need to win two matches in a row to get it.
Now, the first thing I want to address if the AI of the NPC's you are likely to face. Unfair. The game is a cheating cheetah that has cheated Cheetahmen II of an original cart of the cheating cheat cheat cheat. CHEATING! They cheat, in a way that in unfair. Now, one might look at any old mini-game in this Crash Bash and think "you're over reacting" bur I'm not. The characters fighting against you are designed to annoy, pester and cheat you of your time and energy. They will target you and preform a 3 on 1 when you are on single player, and you will be fighting the world. On 2 player mode this is more balanced, but the cheating is still found, so much more so in the pinball games. These pinball games are like the 8th deadly sin, and punishes all those that play it. Seriously, they know when the powers are as soon as they blink on, they can save an insane amount of balls in hectic times that seems almost impossible to a human, and just....cheat! the way the balls roll, and you think that they are going in your direction, but then they hit another ball, switch course and before you know you, you've lost a point.
The overall controls are fine. They are responsive enough for your needs, and if done correctly, can make a smooth ride. However, the pinball ones yet again, have a terrible control. You can either move normally or move fast (By holding down the L1 or R1 shoulder button), and normally the balls are coming at you so fast you'll only keep up with saving most of them by moving fast. This makes perfect sense, but at many other times, you'll get used to the fact the balls will go in any old random angel, and unless you can see the future or have reflexes like a lightening eagle on coffee, then you'll most likely just swerve up and down the place hoping to save as many as you can. Now, at this point, you will be able to see that a ball is about to go in, and you aim to block it, but because of the nature of the game, you'll be going left and right in this mad panic to save one ball, and you'll over shoot it, and the ball will go in. It's just the controls don't seem fit for that purpose of quick responses.
The graphics are pretty nice. They follow that same pattern that the other crash games offered, with a hint of mystery on a few aspects, especially the crystal challenges, those new layouts are nice and look really good. The cut-scenes however aren't quite as good. The intro seemed to have set at a slightly lower frame rate that seems to display a lightly jagged movement, and this followed the other cut scenes. However, the in game animation works smoothly and flawlessly. The graphics between the two are pretty much the same, so I don't see why the decrease in frames per second should be there. Another thing I've noticed is that when you get a slow power-up, instead of your character going in slow motion, the frame rate just drops. That's pretty lazy. I would have been really nice if the animation went into slow motion without looking out of place with jagged movements.
The music is pretty fun, at least they didn't screw that up. There is a bit of loading screen music, and the calmness of it all before and after the game selected really works well. The music suits its level, featuring either a cold feel, or adding a Mexican touch, which displays a good use of music to match the environment. The boss level music in this case follows suit, not really having anything all that much unique to the boss theme, just fitting music to its environment. The sound effects are also nice, if not a bit cartoon-y at times. That feel works with the general craziness of Crash Bandicoot though, and it adds a splash of humour to ease the "YOU FAIL", until it just gets plain annoying. At least it ages well.
But it's the game play that really annoys me though. They got the graphics okay and music right for sure, but the general game play and feel is just insane. At first it's fun, but you have to go through four different versions of crate smashing, polar bear riding, pogo stick jumping (why? WHY??? Seriously, how often do you see good and evil battling it out on freaking pogo sticks???), and most terrible of all, the pinball levels. And it gets harder. It just seems like they were running out of ideas, and the wear it puts on your patience is great. This game is about as addicting to play as pong. You start to enjoy it, you think it's a classic, but after a while, you realise it's just the same thing, and it gets old. Once you complete this game, unless you are an OCD person that needs to 100% a game, you wouldn't want to play this much longer after the forth floor. Oh, did i forget to mention this goes upward to 200% in completion? That means when you get 100%, you're only half way there. What a jerk for the game to give you that false hope!
And the difficulty, the difficulty is stupid. The trophies are okay to deal with, even if they are annoying at first, and even frustrating later on, but that leaves no excuse for the other challenges to be unfair. In a way, it's kinda cool how you are able to win even when the odds are pitted against you, entitling you to intense bragging rights. On the other hand however, it takes so much time and energy, that the player will be exhausted by the time they reach the end. This is a game you need to take breaks on, or you. Will. Go. Insane. There is this one crystal challenge that requires you to only steal other players squares in a pogo game. So what do you do? just follow them around and steal their squares that way? Sounds fun right? Well, you can't steal their squares that way. You can only do it by firing missiles at them, which appear randomly, in places that aren't convenient to you. You also need to break that stupid purple create as well, and it all adds up to a stupidly insane difficulty that relies 100% on luck. No matter how much you plan ahead, it's going to rely a lot on luck. I hate it when the outcome of a match is determined by luck and not skill...
Overall, I give this game a 3.4/10 My is this game unfair. It could have been good, it could have been great! But it's just far too unfair to enjoy it. There are good parts to it, and the difficulty means that very few will be able to complete all 200% of it (I hear a rumour you can get it to 201%), which is something to brag about, but if you're looking for a game to sit down, enjoy and admire, this is not the game for you. If you want to play one of those bad games, then this is the one for you.