D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 3

Assuming anyone even reads these articles, I’d like to welcome you back to “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn”. Part 3 of my special saga will focus on the next three Crash Bandicoot games; there are quite a few of these games, but don’t worry, we’re almost at the end of the series. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

 

Crash Nitro Kart (PS2)

Following in the footsteps of Crash Team Racing, this game features more go-kart racing with Crash, his friends, and enemies. If you’ve read my earlier articles on the Crash series, then you know that I’m not a huge fan of racing games, yet Crash Team Racing was still a pretty good game and I had some fun with it. Since Crash Nitro Kart was not developed by Naughty Dog, I wasn’t expecting too much from it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the developers knew what they were doing and made the game just as good as Crash Team Racing. The story behind this game is thus: An alien named Emperor Velo XXVII, ruler of a far away planet, abducts Crash, Coco, and new ally Crunch, as well as Dr. Cortex, Dr. N. Gin, and Tiny, then forces them to race against each other. Afterwards, Velo himself will challenge the best racer among them in one final championship race. If they don’t participate, Velo blows up Earth. What is it with all these aliens obsessed with racing? They got nothing better to do?

From there, you choose to play the main campaign as either Crash’s team of good guys or Cortex’s team of bad guys in order to win Velo’s racing competition and save Earth. Like in Crash Team Racing, the different racers in Crash Nitro Kart have slight differences in terms of their karts’ top speed, acceleration, and turning ability, and being able to choose different racers each time you start a new race in the main campaign was a nice addition. Like before, driving through crates scattered along the tracks gives you access to weapons like missiles, beakers, Aku Aku or Uka Uka masks of invincibility, and a couple of new ones thrown in there like stop watches that temporarily slow down or stop the other racers.

The different types of race tracks available are also quite exciting and even have the racers driving along the walls or even along ceilings in jungle, underwater, or outer space themed levels. And there are also the special challenges like relic time trials and crystal collecting runs. Basically, Crash Nitro Kart is Crash Team Racing for the PS2, with a couple of extra features and improved graphics, so it’s another fun racing game overall. Like its predecessor, Crash Nitro Kart gets a score of 80%.

 

Crash: Twinsanity (PS2)

This game was a rather unique entry in the Crash Bandicoot series. It was the very first Crash game to feature full 3D environments; the previous platforming titles were technically 2.5D since Crash was always either running in a straight line forwards and backwards, or left and right. Other than the more open environments, Crash Twinsanity’s only other unique feature was being able to play as two characters at once (sort of). The story opens with Dr. Cortex trying to take his revenge on Crash yet again, but after being thwarted for what is probably the trillionth time, two parakeet brothers that have the ability to bend the very fabric of reality to their every whim make their appearance and reveal their plans to take over the world. They also have a bone to pick with Cortex, so in desperation Cortex allies himself with Crash in the hopes of stopping the Evil Twins from taking him out (and the world too).

The different levels you go through in this game were pretty fun and the cartoony sense of humor on display was among the series’ best. When not going solo as Crash, there were a number of moments where you would control Crash and Cortex together. Basically, Crash would be dragging Cortex behind him and using him both as a weapon and as a tool to progress through certain environments. Crash could use Cortex as a makeshift hammer to bash enemies and to extend the reach of his spin attack, as well as throw him to normally unreachable switches in order to activate bridges and platforms. One particular platforming section where Crash sticks Cortex in a small barrel and rolls him around everywhere, then sends him down these many tubes to activate more platforms and bridges was definitely one of this game’s most amusing moments. And then of course there were those other scripted events where Crash and Cortex would get entangled in a ball while beating the crap out of each other and you would control their movement like a pinball rolling through special obstacle courses. There were even a couple of moments where Crash would use Cortex as a snowboard.

Cortex was also controllable every now and then and would deal with enemies and obstacles with his laser gun, while his gothic niece Nina Cortex was another playable character a couple of times and could use her bionic hands to reach distant grapple points and strike enemies from a distance. The boss battles were fun too. While this game was enjoyable enough, it did have flaws. Collecting gems was no longer a requirement to get 100% completion and see the real ending, all they did this time was unlock developer artwork and music. Although, if you did want to collect gems, backtracking to previous levels was only possible at specific points in the story, so once you went far enough you would be unable to backtrack in case you missed a couple of gems. This made the game feel strangely restrictive.

Despite being able to play as Crash and Cortex (together and separately), as well as Nina, there wasn’t a whole lot of variety to Crash Twinsanity and certain platforming challenges tended to repeat themselves. Controls weren’t quite as tight or responsive as the earlier Crash games and there were occasional sound glitches where the audio would just completely shut off for no reason. Still, Crash Twinsanity was a solid game and was a nice addition to a series that was suddenly getting too many racing titles added into it. Crash: Twinsanity gets a score of 77%.

 

Crash Tag Team Racing (PS2)

Now we come to the third racing game in the Crash Bandicoot series. Honestly, that’s one racing game too many, but again, I couldn’t pass up this game…it’s Crash Bandicoot after all. In this game, Crash, Coco, and Crunch are in a car battle for some reason with Cortex, N. Gin, and Nina when they crash into a theme park owned by the weird little German cyborg named Ebenezer Von Clutch, who enlists their help to solve a big problem of his. His Black Power Gem, which functions as his power source and keeps him alive, has been stolen; without it, he will soon power down for good. He offers the deed to his park as a reward for whichever side (Crash’s side or Cortex’s side) finds the Black Power Gem and returns it to him.

One unique thing about Crash Tag Team Racing is that it’s both a platforming and racing game. You control Crash as he explores each area of the theme-park, which consists of him climbing and jumping through all areas of the park to obtain collectibles and currency. The only enemies that stand in Crash’s way as he explores the park are ninja penguins. That’s right…ninja penguins. As for the racing, there are standard races, time trials, challenges where you destroy other vehicles to score points, etc. Collecting power ups along the tracks lets Crash throw homing chickens and explosive monkeys to slow down other racers. But what really sets this game apart from other racing games is the “clash” feature, where Crash can combine his car with any other racer’s car in order to gain access to powerful turret weapons that allow him to quickly blow up any other nearby racers.

That’s really all there is to Crash Tag Team Racing, other than its stronger sense of cartoony humor, which I remember had me laughing on multiple occasions. Not only can Crash interact with “Die-O-Ramas” which are basically Looney Tune-like death scenes where Crash normally gets blown up or crushed, but he can interact with other characters to complete special fetch quest missions, and these are normally accompanied by more amusing dialogue or shenanigans. So, while this game was fun enough, it was far from exceptional and was just some silly fun that could last a weekend. For me, the game’s replay value was very low and again, this was not the type of game I would normally have bought if it wasn’t a Crash game. Crash Tag Team Racing gets a score of 58%.

And there you have it. Join me next week for Part 4 of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will discuss the last two games of the Crash Bandicoot series (finally, right?). Find out if the series ended on a high note or with a disappointing whimper. While you wait, check out these fine pieces of reading material (we got a lot for you this week):

Join Raul as he shares his most surprising gameplay moments in his new feature “Well, That Just Happened”, which can be found here.

You can also find the debut of Jorge’s new feature “Have you Played…?” here, where he takes a fond look back at some old favorite games of his and makes some recommendations.

Finally emerging from the secret control room where he helps run this site from behind the scenes, Dan Choppen brings us a review for Secret Ponchos. Click right over here to check it out.

If you’re curious about how the most recent Assassin’s Creed game compares to the twenty or so earlier games in the series, then check out Michael’s review of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate here.

Speaking of Michael, do you miss his old “Rings of Saturn” feature? Well fret not, for Michael continues his legacy of revisiting his favorite games from previous generation systems and sharing detailed articles on them with his new “Retro Respawn” feature. As Michael himself would say, take a “goosey gander” at his most recent article here.

 

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