Reviewed: February 5, 2003
Released: January 15, 2003
About eleven months ago Universal Studios debuted their PlayStation mascot, Crash Bandicoot on the GBA. Even though the system was small the adventure was big, one might even say ‘huge” as indicated by the title, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. While I didn’t have the opportunity to play that particular title I was (still am actually) a huge fan of the PSX Crash games so I was admittedly excited about seeing how my furry platform hero made the trip to the small screen.
Crash 2: N-Tranced does a great job of brining the 3D platform concept of the PSX series into the 2D world of the GBA while keeping all the fun and adventure totally intact. Since the villainous Dr. Cortex was banished in the previous installment Crash needed a new enemy, so this game teams up Uka Uka (the evil mask) and the sinister Dr. Nefarious Tropy and if that weren’t enough, how about an evil Crash Clone?
This evil team of villains captures Coco and Crunch – no, that’s not a new breakfast cereal, but rather Crash’s sister and best friend. This is all the premise needed to motivate Crash on an epic quest that spans more than 40 levels in eight unique environments.
The underlying premise of the Crash series has gone pretty much unchanged during its lifespan and things haven’t changed in the move to the handheld version. Crash is still about jumping on boxes, either to smash them or bounce on them and collecting more fruit than you’ll find in the produce section of your supermarket.
There is a decent mix of 2D side-scrolling action and those exciting 3D chases where you are running into or away from the screen. Crash has plenty of killer moves and if you have never played a Crash game or simply forgot what a bandicoot can do there is a handy tutorial that will refresh your memory. Later in the game these moved can get enhanced and your acrobatic arsenal will include moves like a rocket jump and super slide.
In an effort to make this game more accessible to younger games (or old gamers with a low tolerance for frustration) the designers have implemented a dynamic difficulty adjustment where the game adjusts to your playing skill. If you continually die in one location the game will help you out with an Aku Aku mask that absorbs a one-hit death. You are also prompted to save your progress at the end of each level.
Vicarious Visions has added a new style of gameplay that players of the Wrath of Cortex game will certainly remember and everyone will enjoy. These challenge stages have you controlling Crash, Coco, Crunch, and even your evil clone around complex levels that look like a skateboard park – not a bad analogy considering these levels are powered by the Tony Hawk GBA engine. Whichever character you are controlling is all rolled up into a ball and you roll them around the levels smashing into boxes. The levels get harder and harder with plenty of Nitro boxes getting added to the levels and guardrails being removed.
The graphics were surprisingly good for both the side-scrolling and the 3D perspective chases, but they really shined in the true 3D levels that used the Tony Hawk engine. The characters are all well defined and the backgrounds and objects are all bright and colorful.
The music in N-Tranced can get a bit repetitive at times but on the whole the tunes are pretty good. The rest of the audio presentation is very nice with excellent sound effects that are typical of the genre but always presented with that unique Crash flair. Good stuff!
Once you have completed the main game there are plenty of reasons to go back and replay the various levels in a competitive Time Trial mode. If racing the clock is your idea of fun then this feature adds tremendous replay value to this title. You can also play those rolling Atlasphere challenges in exciting two-player battles or races provided you have a friend, a second copy of the game, and a link cable.
Additional fun can be had if you have a link cable and a copy of Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. There are new characters and levels that can be unlocked and used in the multiplayer modes of N-Tranced. This is a nice added value for owners of both games.
Crash Bandicoot: N-Tranced is a lot of fun and manages to maintain the same level of quality found in the major console versions of Crash. There is a substantial single-player game and plenty of added value with the link capabilities. If you are a fan of the bandicoot or just want to play an excellent platform game, you will definitely want to add this one to your GBA library.