Reviews: Crash Bandicoot

Donkey Kong Country with polygons

If you look for information on the game Crash Bandicoot online, you will see it talked about as an example of a great 3d platformer and compared to Super Mario 64: favorably if the person speaking had a PSX. If Mario 64 is not the game it is compared to then the 2d Marios are.

This annoys me. Because the games that Crash is most comparable to have almost nothing to do with Mario in any way. Crash Bandicoot should be compared with the games it is most like, the Donkey Kong Country series.

A jungle setting in an island overworld. Linear level design (the sort of thing Super Mario 64 was heralded for changing). Riding animals through enemies. Heck, there are even parts where you jump over barrals thrown by enemies. Everything about Crash screams Donkey Kong so loudly that it is shocking that so few seem to make the connection.

I personally prefer Donkey Kong Country. The controls are tighter and the level design better. Crash's creators admit to putting crates in areas where they thought the level design was getting boring. I do think Crash is a good game. The controls and level design are good enough for an enjoyable time playing, and the complete linearity means that there are no camera issues. I love the 'Indiana Jones' parts where you run from boulders. But it lacks the polish of the best 2d platformers of the 16 bit era and the industry shaking impact of Super Mario 64 and the truly 3d games that followed. It is a prime example of the transition between the advent of 3d graphics and 3d gameplay. All of the levels feel like they are in 2d, even when you are running away from the screen.

I am told that the second and third games in the series were much better than the first, which I suppose is to be expected, but I cannot see how Crash could ever really compete with a Mario or a Sonic.