Crash Bandicoot first came to the Playstation in a time when I was still solely a PC gamer. Since coming back to consoles in force several years ago, I have yet to go back and play through those old Crash games, although I do have a fair interest in doing so. When Crash of the Titans, the first Crash adventure on the Xbox 360 came in for review, I was fairly excited. It looked like a fun, simple, 3D platformer that would make an excellent supplement to the more serious and hardcore titles of the season. Sure enough, that’s exactly what I got.
Crash And the Titans
If you’ve read the first paragraph, you know that I am not all that familiar with the Crash Bandicoot universe. In this game, an old foe of Crash, an older evil scientist named Cortex, I believe, is up to no good again and it’s up to Crash to stop him and save his girlfriend in the process. What entails are twenty episodes of Crash beating the crap out of a bunch of Cortex’s goons (and some of his daughter’s goons as you will find out later in the game). Crash by himself is pretty effective against most enemies, but the titans are of course the big point in this game. There are twenty or more titans throughout Crash’s adventure, each of which require you pummel them to a certain degree until they’re dazed and only then can you hop on them and control them. It reminds me of Folklore’s combat mechanics to a degree, in that you have to beat up a Folk before absorbing its Id, and then you can control it. Although in Crash, once you start to control a Titan, you can continue to control it only as long as it lives or until you hop off of it to another Titan, so you don’t maintain a palette of controllable monsters like in Folklore. One nice similarity however is that each Titan requires you defeat it in a certain way, sometimes requiring you to grab Titan A to beat up Titan B. This makes for a bit of a deeper and engaging experience than just using any Titan against any Titan, but it also can expose what I thought was the biggest pain in the game.
My biggest complaint about Crash of the Titans would have to be that it’s a darn easy game once you grab a Titan, but it can be a real pain to capture a Titan sometimes, leaving you basically helpless against a foe that cannot be beaten without the help of a Titan. Couple that with the fact that you only have so many lives and losing all your lives requires restarting the episode, and there were numerous points in the game where I was stuck playing through an episode over and over until I got either some tough part in the middle right or more usually at the end. So again, once you get a Titan, you’re golden, beating up another Titan and then jumping on it to get a full lease of health is just fine, but just getting that first Titan is tough a lot of times – not most, mind you, but certainly enough that it frustrated me.
Playing Through An Episode
Most episodes in Crash of the Titans are fairly similar to each other, which isn’t surprising nor necessarily a bad quality, but it does make it easy to write about what you will find as you play through this game. Each episode has Crash starting out as himself and usually has you facing a few non-Titan foe to get you going and there are also plenty of platforming elements to tackle. Getting Crash through these platforming sequences is generally straight-forward and fun, but there are still plenty of moments where the perfect jump is required. One thing I did really like was that, should you fail to complete a jump and fall to your death, Crash will reappear in just seconds near where you fell, and with only about a quarter of his life lost instead of the entire amount.
So that said you battle your way through some smaller enemies and obstacles, picking up plenty of Mojo along the way that counts towards extra lives and a few special abilities, and then the inevitable Titan encounters occur. Normally, as I mentioned before, these are fine and welcome, but many times these can be real show stoppers, especially if there are multiple tough Titans around trying to kill you before you can grab onto just one of them. What really makes getting these tougher Titans so hard is that you have to beat them with a steady stream of hits in a short time frame. As you wail away on the Titan, you can tell how close you are to getting it dizzy, i.e, to the point where you can hop on it and control it, by watching a meter fill up. What makes this hard a lot of times is that should you fail to continue hitting them until the meter is full, the meter begins to drop rapidly, meaning you have to make another opportunity to get a combo on them again. You might be interrupted by other Titans or enemies hitting you as you try to do a combo, or maybe the Titan itself hits you or blocks; regardless, without getting on a Titan quickly, you cannot proceed, so as you can tell it can be a real pain sporadically throughout the game.
Once you are on a Titan, navigating through the rest of an episode is generally very easy as you simple jump from Titan to Titan, smashing other Titans and smaller foes along the way, and often smashing various generators and machines to unlock doors and other simple puzzles. There are a handful of boss fights Crash must topple, and these are kept fairly simple and fun.
The single player story won’t take you very long to complete, as the twenty episodes go by relatively easily. Beyond that, there isn’t, at least for me, a great deal left to get out of this game. There are various unlockables per episode, including medals for how well you did, also there is a special arena type challenge that you can access in every episode by taking hopping into a portal placed somewhere in the episode—but overall I don’t think many folks will be coming back for more unlockables (which include new combos I believe).