☆ Retro Review: Crash Bandicoot: Warped ☆

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Everyone else is doing it with the N. Sane Trilogy coming out, so it’s time to jump on the train and review a PlayStation classic video game featuring their box-smashing mascot.

After I spent way too much time researching what a bandicoot actually was, and since I did play the first one as a kid as well as a bit of Crash Team Racing in college, I figured it best to pick something else. So, without comparing it too much to the other games, it’s time to review the third instalment of this weird series from Naughty Dog—Crash Bandicoot: Warped.  
Upon first glance, it looks as if I chose wisely. The game was positively reviewed by most critics and fans, but more importantly, the numbers don’t lie. This title ended up being one of the most sold PlayStation games over the console’s lifespan and the first non-Japanese entry to sell over a million copies in Japan. It didn’t hurt that Sony teamed up with Pizza Hut for a marketing promotion to pimp this game out. I remember one of my friends having the demo disc as well as a large Meat Lovers when I was younger, but the pizza distracted me. I guess they accomplished those financial feats by jumping the shark a bit and throwing in everything, including the kitchen sink. I have no clue what the plot of the second game was, but this time it involves an awakened evil god named Uka Uka—brother of Aku Aku—and time travel, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Backing up just a bit, it is still amazing the game did as well as it did and is as good as it turned out because the third instalment only spent a little under eleven months in development, which would be considered rushed for the time and size of their team. Strike while the iron is hot though I guess, as the two previous games had come out close together also. The company knew to stick with their core concepts for gameplay while adding a couple of new engines to bring some of these different segments and mechanics to life. Reading a bit deeper into all of that, the development and overall polishing of what the first two games did was kind of impressive and everything fits together well, even if it sounds a bit messy on paper.
The graphics are strong here, especially in the way colour is used and the actual character and enemy animations seem full and fun. I’m not sure if the music is going to be memorable for me since I didn’t play this as a kid, but it sounds good with the individual levels, especially the times I paused to consider how to approach certain parts, catching myself lingering with those sounds. 

Crash 3 is better designed overall and the fine-tuning to its linear platforming is quite noticeable, but the controls on those motorcycle segments can be annoying and cost me first place more than once. The level design is especially good, as long as I don’t have to do any of the water areas again, and the other vehicle and beast riding segments were better than I thought they would be. The time travelling plot lends itself to some fun vibrant looking themed levels and the bosses that follow these are all quite enjoyable.
Defeating each boss will grant Crash some move upgrades and almost all of these are useful, or at least fun to try, but perhaps a bit overpowered, as running back through older levels with these awesome abilities will make them a bit too easy. Warped may seem like a relatively short game at first, but there are plenty of reasons to go back through, and I’m not just talking about the alternating paths in certain stages. The true completionist will be trying to collect every gem—to which there are a lot on every stage—as well as the relics on each level for their time challenge mode. 

There are a couple of hidden secrets that are expertly tucked away, a special ending for getting everything, and there is even a way to unlock the Spyro the Dragon demo on the disc with a knockoff of the Konami code, which rounds out a ton of replay value for this game.  Now the developers are making putting so much time into the game even more tempting by adding trophies for the N. Sane Trilogy, for those who like to be achievement whores.

There are only a few parts of the game that feel unfair or unnecessarily hard, but nothing a few tries and being careful about stocking lives won’t fix. Honestly, it is odd that my biggest problem with the game is the story. They said there was more than in the previous two, and maybe if I had played the first more recently and two at all, it might make more sense, but I’m still confused and not sure I’m invested at all, if that even matters here, because I would certainly play Warped again even with this flaw. The cutscenes where the bosses talk are fun, and I love hearing Clancy Brown do his parts. 
If I had any advice for those new to Crash games, it’s simple: learn your boxes. Figure out what each type does and how Crash interacting with them affects the player as well as the levels as a whole, though returning fans of the previous instalments should have a solid grasp on this already. 


I can’t recommend Crash Bandicoot: Warped enough though, just don’t accidentally get the PAL version, as it is, in fact, harder for some reason. I might go back and finally play part two now, but Wrath of Cortex is throwing me some seriously bad vibes, so I’ll hold off on that one for now. 


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