Review: Crash Twinsanity (XBX)

Crash Twinsanity
Genre: Platforming
Platform: Xbox (also available on the PS2)
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Traveller\s Tales
Release Date: 9/28/04

Back in 1996 Naughty Dog released the first Crash Bandicoot to a skeptical audience and harsh judgement aimed at the game that was for awhile Sony’s mascot and competition to N64’s Super Mario64. It held it’s own and gained some loyal fans for the first couple of games, however years have seen developer changes and fans of the series fade. Traveller’s Tales has decided to try something new for Crash this time around, but do the new changes succeed in bringing some much needed life back to the series?


Story:

Back in the beginning of the series the story started with Crash Bandicoot as an escaped test subject of the evil Dr. Cortex, who in order to get Crash back captured his girlfriend. That was the simple beginnings of a rivalry that’s lasted about eight years now. The lesson here people is to never steal someone’s girlfriend, they will hold a grudge that will last through years and several sequels.

Twinsanity starts with Dr. Cortex luring Crash into a trap where Cortex has assembled several of the previous games bosses so that they can all finally destroy Crash. This of course fails and ends up with Crash and Cortex fighting each other over a power crystal until they end up at the feet of the real enemy in the game. The Evil Twins. The Twins explain that they are from another dimension and have come to destroy Crash, the islands that he calls home, and to take Dr. Cortex brain as well as alluding to having some prior beef with Dr. Cortex. You know what they said, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and just like that Crash and Cortex team up to take out the Twins.

As far as plot goes this isn’t exactly on the deep side of the pool, but it’s moved along well by the humor of having two enemies forced to work together, especially when one is silent and has a lot in common with an internet flame war (i.e. they’re both retarded) and the other is over talkative and makes plenty of inside jokes. Considering a plumber continuously rescuing a princess is about standard for the depth of platform games storylines with only a couple of exceptional ones having an involved story, the story is average.

5/10


Graphics:

The graphics are the best thing about Crash Twinsanity. Every level is full of vibrant color and has a fair amount of detail. The character models for both Crash and Dr. Cortex are great and are animated extremely well which is most noticeable during the times when they use double team moves. Once such example is when the two are brawling you will be able to roll them like a ball through ramps, if you happen to stop one of the two will start beating on the other and during the entire time they are in motion you can make out that they are still punching and kicking each other.


The biggest annoyance comes from the bane of 3D platform games, the camera. The camera will often be at an angle that makes it hard to see where you are jumping or how far you need to jump, considering this is what you will be doing for a large chunk of the game it gets annoying. You are able to look around and manually adjust the camera but sometimes doing so I have lost the camera behind objects and it doesn’t stay where you have adjusted it. It’s not the end of the world as it is in other platform games, it can just be very annoying.

7/10


Sound:

The sound effects are pretty much things you have heard from past Crash Bandicoot games and is serviceable. The voice work is pretty good, most notable is the voice of Dr. Cortex which is as whiny as you would expect from this character and much of the humor in the game comes directly from his character whose delivery is perfect.

The music is a mixed bag. All of the music is appropriate for the level it represents, whether it is a relaxed tribal style or a creepy style it shifts seamlessly from one style to another almost without skipping a beat. However all of the music is done in a unique style that sounds like a synthesized voice be bopping all of the music instead of instruments. I thought it was kinda cute at first but that cuteness wears thin and just evaporates after listening too it for too long. While other people may disagree for me it sounded like a human boombox impression that just went on for far too long.

7/10


Controls:

Crash has all of the basics you’d expect from a platform game. He’s got his jump, double jump, spin attack, and can crawl. In fact one of the biggest complaints that can be made about the game is that as a platformer, the controls are too basic. Even the combined moves you can do with Dr. Cortex are things that you will likely have already seen or done in other platform games. Everything has a been there done that feel of a couple years ago, even some of the improvements made in the last couple of years to platform games failed to make it into this game, such as being able to grab onto ledges and pull yourself up. Jumping feels off as though Crash feels like he has less weight which makes the jumping feel slightly floaty. Could be that he discovered Atkins, likes the camera it’s annoying since there’s so much jumping but it doesn’t take too long to get used to. Attacking feels off as well, I have sometimes done a spin or sliding attack that I know should have hit the enemy and instead I have died which is frustrating.

The game tries to keep things fresh and interesting with the new double team moves between Crash and Dr. Cortex, however like I’ve said above many of these moves are things you are likely to have experienced in other games already and are otherwise just aren’t much fun. Of all the double team moves the ones that I thought were the most interesting was one where Crash has to stay ahead of Dr. Cortex and keep obstacles out of his path. It’s done in almost a side scrolling style and is fun to play. The other is the snowboarding where Crash slides down on Dr. Cortex’s back. The time between doing either of these events is too long and I was generally disappointed when these parts of the game where over, the other double team moves just were not as fun.

5/10


Balance:

The game is all over the place in this aspect. Platform games in general the largest difficulty is making it from one side of a stage to the other while trying to figure out how to clear all of the obstacles in between. Because of some of the rough edges with the control and camera many times you’ll end up dying for no other reason than misjudging the distance between two points or by not doing something the way the game wants you to do it. When you die you will start back at a previous check point that you’ve crossed and have to keep going through the same thing over and over again until you have that part of the level memorized, and if you lose all of your lives you will be sent back to a check point that could cause you to have to redo a lot of a level over again. There are games that can cause a person to let lose a string of swear words that will make everyone in the nearby area blush. When you die from an enemy clipping through a platform or from missing a jump from not being able to tell how far it is and then have to redo up to ten minutes of a level over again just to get back to that point, you’ll be letting those words fly.


At the same time, lives aren’t very hard to come by. By either collecting 100 apples or breaking extra live boxes you can gain extra lives and there are plenty of both of those around. Still it’s annoying to need all of those extra lives because of an annoying camera system, an outdated control system, and irritating level design. The later levels are more challenging than the earlier levels by adding the same platforming tricks we’ve seen before such as color coded platforms that blink in and out of existence in a certain pattern. The levels are pretty much most of the challenge the game has to offer as most of the bosses are easy. When facing many of them the camera will fix on the boss and you can just run around them to avoid their attacks. The end boss(es) are extremely easy.

3/10


Replayability:

You can try to collect all of the special gems in the game to unlock an extra movie in the game, which is slightly disappointing considering the amount of effort you have to go through in order to complete the game 100%. Unless you really want to rehear some of Dr. Cortex’s jokes (and since many of the cutscenes are unskippable you’ll be hearing some of them more than once) due to the amount of times you may have to redo a level playing the whole game through again is not exactly something you might be excited about doing again after you have beaten the game.

3/10


Originality:

While they have added the double team moves to the game, most of the game is still a collective of things that have been done in some way shape or form in other games (and generally better done in those games). Having a silent main character and chatty sidekick with self referential jokes is not original, neither is having enemies forced to work together.

2/10


Appeal:

This game is being release just before some of the biggest platform games of the season are about to be released. I can imagine this game appealing to platform game fans that are looking more for a straight up platform game, however I’m doubting many of them are even going to notice this games release in the wake of Sly 2 and the releases of Jak 2 and Rachet and Clank 3 right around the corner.

4/10


Addictiveness:

Almost non-existent. There is very little in terms of plot or gameplay that made me interested in getting to the next level. There’s very little in the sense of accomplishment for completing some tasks because much of the difficulty of completing them isn’t because of any lack of skill but because of design flaws.

3/10


Miscellaneous:

Over the last 3-4 years the 3D platform genre has practically redefined itself. Originally what started off as aimless collection fest to get stars or apples has turned into collecting items that either benefit the character in exchange for items or specific abilities or to unlock extras. Camera angles have been refined and gameplay elements finely tuned such as grabbing onto ledges so that jumping (one of the biggest part of this type of game) isn’t such a pain in the ass. Level design has grown more complicated than simple jumping puzzles and figuring out enemy patterns into puzzles that incorporate aspects from other games like Tony Hawk. Some of the games even have plotlines outside of trying to save a princess!


However the developers for Crash Twinsanity seem to have missed this memo. The game looks like it belongs in this generation of games, but plays like a 3D platform game from the last generation of systems. I like that the game focuses more on the platforming aspects than trying to include guns or driving as some other platform games have, but it’s just not done very well.

1/10


Final Scores:
Story: 5/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 5/10
Balance: 3/10
Replayability: 3/10
Originality: 2/10
Appeal: 4/10
Addictiveness: 3/10
Misc: 1/10

Overall Score: 40/100
Final Score: 4/10 – Slighly Below Average