Reviewed: June 30, 2004
Released: January 15, 2003
Everyone’s favorite Bandicoot is back. After becoming a signature character for the PlayStation Crash Bandicoot is now the unofficial mascot of the GBA, sharing the spotlight with the equally popular Spyro. Now these two characters join forces in a cross-franchise event that will shake the very foundations of GBA gameplay. Err…was that too dramatic?
Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage marks the fourth appearance of Crash on the GBA and Vicarious Visions is obviously trying to revitalize the stale franchise by infusing it with a dose of purple dragon power. It’s an ambitious concept, but the resulting game quickly reverts to what we have all played before in previous titles.
Crash Purple and Spyro Orange are essentially the same game, at least from a story perspective. You play as each title character while the other character will make frequent “guest appearances” in the other’s adventure. The gameplay mechanics vary significantly to complement the style of gameplay previously associated with each character.
In this adventure Crash uncovers a plot where Spryo and Dr. Cortex are teaming up to…wait for it…TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Crash will explore numerous locations familiar to Crash gamers as well as locations previously reserved for Spyro games and take part in a host of mini-games that date back to the Atari 2600.
If you have played any of the previous Crash games then you might be in for a surprise. The designers are now delivering a much more varied gameplay experience with dozens of mini-games, and over a hundred trading cards to collect.
There are five worlds, each consisting of two side-scrolling levels, and each of these have portals that lead to the mini-games. You complete these mini-games to earn gems of the purple and silver variety. These in turn will unlock exits to the levels and the worlds allowing you to advance. Of course the downside is that you cannot advance until you complete the mini-games and earn the gems, so you could conceivably get stuck if you suck at a particular game.
The mini-games are at the core of Crash Purple and revert to tried and true gameplay devices like smashing all the crates within a time limit or variations on a host of classic arcade titles like Breakout, Toobin’, Combat, Donkey Kong Country, and Space Invaders. There are even some rapid-click games that pay tribute to the classic Track and Field design.
All of these games are unique and challenging in their own right. They get tougher as you progress through the rather lame platform game that ties them all together. The platform sections are simple and not terribly challenging and even if you do manage to screw up there are no real repercussions.
Overall, the entire game is rather short, but you can unlock plenty of mini-games and access them outside the story mode in both single-player and multiplayer challenge modes. The card collection element will also keep you coming back for repeated passes if you are into that sort of thing.
Simple and effective would sum up the visuals in Crash Purple. The scrolling levels are smooth and detailed and full of color and animated sprites. Crash is animated very nicely while some of the enemies are a bit clunkier. The backgrounds are lively and animated with a lot of distracting elements that increases the challenge.
Since most of this game relies on tributes to other games (see above) the graphical look is always changing with the specific mini-game you are playing. It gives the game a varied look and keeps things fresh and fun for the duration.
The music in Crash Purple is quite repetitive and will start to wear you down long before the game is over. The music in Spyro is slightly better but Crash’s jungle-voodoo vibe manages to maintain a theme that is consistent with the franchise.
There are some nice sound effects, pretty much standard stuff, but several of the samples were either muffled or clipped with static. There is even some spoken dialogue, which was a surprising treat.
A single pass through Crash Purple might take you anywhere from 6-8 hours. Perfectionists will want to collect every last card, which will take considerably longer. There is also multiplayer for up to four players with link cable and you can even link to Spyro Orange to exchange cards.
In a brilliant bit of marketing, if you want to collect all of the trading cards you are going to have to play through both titles and trade the exclusive cards to each title with the other via link cable. This is the only way to fill up the pages in the card album to unlock hidden mini-games in each game. It’s a cheap yet effective gimmick that will likely sell plenty of both titles, but your best bet is to have a friend buy one game and you buy the other then switch off and trade the cards.
Alone, the game is a fun diversion, and when combined with its companion game the two become a more significant whole, but by then you are $60 poorer and still don’t have enough original content to justify more than a rental. Of course, if you are in this for the mini-games, repetitive play, and link options then you will find this game offers plenty in that department.
Given the choice between either Crash or Spyro, you should probably know that Spyro is targeted for younger gamers while Crash is a bit more difficult and aimed for experienced players, thus giving you the most and more challenging gameplay experience.
Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage is a great concept marred by a few design flaws and an overall lack of depth and content. Crash and Spyro lovers are going to love the joining of the two franchises and anyone who enjoys classic platform gaming with challenging mini-games will find several hours of entertainment inside. Whether it’s enough to justify a purchase is up to you and your budget.