Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! Review


Whenever you think of a free to play running game you’re probably thinking of high energy titles with a ton of content and amazing replay value. The highest values of quality are associated with these titles because there’ a lot you can do with it. Unfortunately Crash ends up fumbling the ball on this one and it’s easily the weakest free runner that I’ve played. Sonic, Ladybug, and the others are all a lot better because they embraced the free to play elements while this one seems a little more hesitant.

First off, the gameplay is fine. It’s your standard auto runner so you can crouch and jump to avoid obstacles. There are power ups in the levels and even a little boss fight at the end where you have to tap the screen with precision. These are good mechanics that work well. I did not have any qualms with the gameplay. The levels are also nice and bite sized so there is a whole lot of replay value there.

What is my main issue? It’s the energy system. Now, longtime fans of mobile games will recognize that this isn’t new. A lot of mobile games have something like that to prevent you from beating all of the content instantly. The most confident games though like Pokemon Go, Godzilla, and Dr Mario have no such system. Others like Fire Emblem Heroes, Dragon Ball Legends or any other big gatcha game have it as a formality but it’s hard to reach. In those games you could play effectively with no limit for about a month and then after that you’re limited to about 4-5 hours a day. That’s fine, I’m unlikely to play a mobile game longer than that anyway and it seems like a pretty fair tradeoff.

The problem with Crash is that it’s immediate. Within about an hour you’re going to start running into a shortage of items. Your options at that point are to wait, buy the items, or play old stages to try and get more materials. Why should I need to play an old level when I just started the game though? That was my main issue throughout the game. It felt like you were always needing to go and grab other collectibles so you couldn’t really appreciate the game.

It feels greedy because most of the time your gaming experience won’t be interrupted until you’re fairly deep into the story. Imagine having to go back and raise more Pokemon in Pokemon Masters instead of blasting through all of the available levels? Or needing to go back and clear more Witch rooms in Madoka instead of continuing? That’s my issue with the Crash game, it seems like they heavily steer you towards playing a fee right off the bat rather than enjoying your free experience. If you ask me, that’s the real shame here.

Not even adding in the famous mascot “The Noid” was enough to save the game. I had already finished my playthrough of this one before he came out but let me say that he was not enough for me to change course and go back in. You would need to fix the fundamental issues of Crash’s item system first. Part of the issue is that there are several different kinds of items, materials, and levels you have to get. This should be simplified so there is only one kind of vial for example. Instead of 3 tiers to each item, make it 1.

I would also add a new player bonus like most games where clearing story levels for the first time replenishes your energy. That’s a great way to keep you playing uninterrupted for a long while and then you can really enjoy going back to clear up loose ends. I don’t see why the game decided to be so different from the other auto runners. At the very least the unique approach didn’t work this time.

The graphics are really good though. It’s clear that a lot of work went into making the game look as good as possible. The character models are really on point. They wouldn’t be out of place in the big budget PS4 games. Then the soundtrack and level designs are good. Each theme sounds good and is fittingly high energy for a running game like this. The levels all look like the traditional Crash levels as well.

In terms of replay value, there is a lot here even if we don’t count all of the material farming. The game launched with well over 50 levels and I expect new updates will bring more and more. You can unlock costumes, in game achievements and things of that sort. As with most mobile games, you can probably expect to keep finding things to do here all the way until the game eventually runs out of steam and just ends naturally.

Overall, My main issue here is just that the game feels rather greedy. You can make the case that all mobile games exist to make money since the free to play model is built on using ad revenue but some games certainly use it better than others. In a lot of mobile games you never even get tempted to pay money and it’s all rather harmless. Additionally, if there’s a mobile game you seriously enjoy and will play for 50+ hours anyway, then spending a few bucks may not sound bad. This one just won’t be that game though. I’d highly recommend playing just about any of the other free runners instead but if you have some time then I suppose this isn’t a bad bet. Getting around the time limits is really the most annoying part so if you get past that then there are the fundamentals of a good game.

Overall 5/10

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review


I have to give Nintendo props for finally adding some full free games to their menu. Now, it’s not quite the same as with Sony or Microsoft where they give you a slew of games that stay completely free every month. This one was time limited so it was only free for a week or so but it’s nice to have this. It also adds a level of urgency since you have to try to clear the game in that time. It was awful close but I did manage to clear this game right at the very end of the trial period so I have to admit that I felt pretty clutch at that point. Crash Team Racing is a lot more difficult than you would expect so you definitely don’t want to underestimate it.

The game’s story involves an alien showing up on the planet and deciding that he will destroy everything. He will give the heroes a chance though. they must all compete in a bunch of races and once we have determined who the strongest racer in the world is, then the villain will fight that guy. It’s a fairly basic story that’s just so we can have some context for the races. You can tell that it wasn’t exactly top priority to have a big involved story or anything like that. I do appreciate the game giving us several cutscenes though because it does make the story feel more authentic. Each world has 4-5 races that you have to conquer before fighting the boss of the world.

The gameplay is that of a 3D racer and of course the objective is to get to the finish line first. As you drive through the maps there are items you can grab which will help you in this endeavor. Most of the items you should recognize from Mario Kart like the Paratroopa, Green Shell, etc. They are all slightly altered of course so it’s not literally the same weapons but they have the same effects. The main difference here that makes the game more difficult than your average racer is how the boost system works. In order to attain your boost you have to intentionally drift while on the map. Keep on drifting in order to boost as well as increase your base speed. So for example, if you are just driving straight in a normal way then you will be moving fairly slow. If you keep on drifting over and over as you race then your overall speed will be greatly improved. So the more you master drifting the better.

In fact, winning the game would be 100% impossible based on my experience without drifting. Even with it some races would take me over 20 attempts to conquer. I can only imagine what the game would be like on hard mode. I was impressed with the difficulty setting although at the same time it does feel like the A.I. tends to cheat at times as their cars are naturally faster. I do understand programming a racing game like this is no small feat though as you would have to either have the A.I. be too weak or too strong. I suspect it’s not a super adaptive learning process here as that would be a lot of work for a racing title.

The graphics look very good. It’s definitely a very modern game with all the trimmings. The character designs are on point and the level backdrops are all different and have a striking look to them. We also have a hub world which is a nice idea although it could have been handled a little better. You have to manually drive to each world and there are no real big checkpoints so expect a good amount of driving between worlds. It’s a super small thing to note but one of those times where a fast teleport system would have been a good quality of life upgrade.

As for the soundtrack, that part is fairly forgettable. All of the tunes are super standard to the point where they could pretty much be free domain music in a racing game. Part of this is due to the fact that most racing games do have good soundtracks though so the bar is already high. To be standard for a racing game isn’t a bad thing but I do feel like they could have added an extra tune or two that you could really sink your teeth into. Now that would have been really good.

There’s a good amount of replay value although it could definitely be in an annoying way. There are tons of characters to unlock here. The way to buy them is to use your coins at the pit shop but only a few characters are displayed a day. It’s not like the classic shops where everyone is always there to be purchased. So you may have the coins but it could take a while to get everyone. I am impressed with the scale of content though. It may not be easy to get them but there is so much to buy. I’m not even familiar with half of the Crash characters in this game, they just squeezed everyone in here. Between doing all of that and trying to unlock the secret ending there is a whole lot to keep on doing here. Naturally the online multiplayer is a factor as well.

Ultimately what holds the game back when compared to the other big racing games like Mario Kart and the Sonic ones is that the gameplay being so heavily reliant on the constant boosting can hurt. You don’t want to always have to be turning at every moment and that’s what this mechanic forces you to do. It’s a lot less peaceful than the game could be and between that with all of the items it feels like you aren’t getting to actually “race” for a good chunk of each level. This is still a good game, but I could have done without the boost mechanic.

Overall, it’s clear that a good amount of effort was put into this game. It’s nice that we have a real story and the amount of characters in the game is crazy. The gameplay may not have been my favorite but it’s still a racing title and the kind of game which will be amplified when you play with others. If you’re looking for a good racing game to check out then I would recommend buying Crash. It’s not exactly my top recommendation in the genre though so if you want an even grander title then I would recommend Mario Kart. Of course…I have yet to buy the latest game in that series myself but it’s on the list.

Overall 7/10

Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced Review


Looks like it’s time for another Crash adventure. The last two games were both pretty short and the same is true of this one. You can beat it in under 90 minutes so I wonder how you would be feeling about that if you bought it on launch day. Granted, if you paid full price then perhaps you would go ahead and grab all of the collectibles to get the true ending. As it stands, this one is very similar to the last Crash game. It’s a pretty fun adventure that may be brief, but the gameplay is quite sound. It also has more of a plot than the last one so I was all for that.

The game starts with the Mask finally deciding that Cortex has failed him for the last time. He turns to one of the other members of the Cabal, a Time Master. The Master is pretty confident that he can stop Crash so he hires a mind control villain to kidnap everyone. The guy succeeds except for Crash who gets lucky thanks to his own Mask protecting him. The villains now have all of Crash’s friends + an evil version of Crash. Can Crash really save all of his friends and defeat someone who manipulates time with such ease? One thing’s for sure, this is not going to be an easy win for our young Bandicoot. Crash is going to need some kind of plan here.

It’s a pretty epic plot and unlike the last one we do get more cutscenes throughout each world. You get that sense of danger after clearing each world and I do like the idea of fighting all of Crash’s allies. I was a little surprised to see Crash among them though. I guess he was actually a good guy? Based on his dialogue it seems like he was mind controlled the whole time so he’s always been a hero. You can certainly color me surprised on that twist but it was good to see him again. As with last time the bosses are pretty well varied. The final boss even has two phases this time which makes him a true threat. You’ll want to really memorize his movement patterns or you’re in for a tough time. I would recommend sliding under him after every two jumps and then in phase two if he starts shooting the fast energy blasts go directly under him. He can’t shoot at that angle so you’ll be safe and then you can just hope he doesn’t fire off the homing energy blast instead. At that point you’re pretty much just plain ole doomed.

As for the levels, they’re mainly your usual Crash 2D Platforming levels. The actual levels feel a little shorter than the last game’s, but it’s pretty close so that could just be placebo. Either way the controls are smooth and one thing that I liked was how you have all of the power ups from the start this time. It does make the game as a whole considerably easier than the last one, but I really enjoy the double jump. It’s just hard not to play with it so I’m fine with the game being a little easier if that’s what it takes. Just go through the level cautiously and you should be fine. If you’ve made it this far in the series you’ll definitely be okay and if not the game actually has a pretty helpful tutorial at the beginning.

One of the alternate gameplay styles that made a return here is the Monkey Ball style. It’s my least favorite style in this game though. The levels have too many obstacles so you end up having to go really slow the whole time. As a result you don’t get to really capture that fun Monkey Ball spirit. Another gameplay style is the space missions where you have to boost through the levels and blast alien ships. I don’t think the boost mechanic was necessary here but I’m always up for some space blasting. There are only 2-3 of these levels in the game so make them count. Finally you also have the boat levels where you have to try and escape Jaws. These levels are a bit random but pretty fun. I consider them to be an upgrade over the running towards the screen levels from the earlier games.

So I don’t really have any complaints with this game except for one. Naturally that’s the length. 1 hour is pretty short for any console, but especially for one as modern as the GBA. Clearly the goal is to get you to replay it a few times until you collect everything, but I think the main campaign still could have been longer. If it was between the game being short or padding it out though then they made the right move. Collectibles should always be optional so I’m glad that the game made them that way. Forcing you to grab everything has always been a risky gamble and not one that I was a fan of.

As for the soundtrack, I’m finally starting to recognize the tunes after hearing them so much. The music in the game is pretty fun. It may not be the most dynamic, but the tunes are easy to listen to and help capture that Adventure spirit. You feel like you’re on a fun quest with Crash and the gang. Who can ask for more than that right? The graphics are also pretty good. They’re about the same as the last installment, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it right? The character models are still on point and the whole thing looks pretty good.

Overall, Crash Bandicoot strikes again with another quality game that is just held back by the length. At around an hour to an hour and 20 minutes this game won’t really last you for very long. You could go and grab the collectibles to extend the game though. The levels are quick so playing them all 2-3 times isn’t a big deal if you’re interested in seeing how it ends. It’s always a tempting offer once I have less games on my backlog but at the moment I mainly just play the games to their original completion and just go from there. If you’re a big platforming fan or just want to relive the good ole days of the GBA then this is a solid adventure to check out. The fundamentals are all here so you should have a good time.

Overall 6/10

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Review


It’s time to take a look at another Crash game. I actually completed this one before the GBA one but that one was so much shorter that it made sense to just churn the review out real quick. The HD Collection for Crash was pretty fun so I figured it was about time I got the next installment. The Wrath of Cortex does hold up pretty well to the others although I don’t think it beats any of the first 3 one on one. While the gameplay styles are quite varied as Crash is known for, some of them are definitely weaker than others. This results in weakening the overall package a bit in the end.

The game starts with the mask reprimanding Corte and the other villains once again. They have failed him for the last time so he gives them yet another shot to win back his good graces. Cortex is pressured into admitting that he has built the ultimate weapon to beat Crash. It’s a dark prototype known as Crunch and he basically is Crash except a whole lot more powerful. Cortex has also awakened the immensely powerful Elementals who once brought the planet to its knees. Can Crash really stop such a powerful alliance?

I always like starting the game off with a good villain meeting. This way they all hype each other up and it works out quite well. That being said, most of them don’t actually get to fight in this one which is a bit iffy. What’s the point of a big villain meeting if they aren’t actually going to fight right? They all returned for the GBA game and some of them got to fight there, but I was expecting everyone prepped and ready for this fight. No matter, it was still a pretty fun opening cinematic and I’m always going to give a game a thumbs up for including them. Cutscenes are something a game should always have if you ask me.

The main gameplay here are the 3D platforming levels. You run and jump over obstacles. Additionally you can use your spin move to defeat most enemies or a power slide to go right underneath them. It’s definitely a very useful technique and I recommend it against all of the human agents. It’s more trouble than it’s worth to spin on them. A lot of the time you can just breeze past them though. In this game there is no real benefit to fighting them all off so I would say don’t bother. What’s the point of attacking an enemy when you could just walk right past them? That’s the way I see it at least. These levels can definitely be tricky. A lot of time the best thing to do is just stop and survey the level instead of continuing to run forward.

As I mentioned there are other kinds of levels here though. Another one is when you are in a plane flying across the world sinking ships and space stations. These levels are a lot of fun for sure. Just keep on blasting and you’ll be through it with ease. A lot of the time you don’t even need to worry about the ships behind you. Try to tune out the super loud sound of motors behind you though. It can get extremely loud next to the other sounds and music for some reason to the point where you may want to lower the volume a bit. Another kind of gameplay is when Crash puts on the mech suit and starts blasting. It’s a bit clunky so I feel like the game added it near the end. It’s not terrible but I do think it could have been a lot better. The levels don’t show up often though so I wouldn’t really worry about it.

Then we have the underwater levels where you’re in a ship or swimming free reign. These were my least favorite levels in part because it is very hard to turn. That means if an enemy suddenly appears out of nowhere then you are basically out of luck. Struggle as you may, but in the end you won’t be able to dodge. I remember losing quite a few lives in this battle. There are also the Monkey Ball levels. This felt the most random to see, but it was nostalgic. These levels were pretty decent although there was one where the final maze was a bit much. It wasn’t even hard, just time consuming to check every path until you found the right one. If you picked a bad path, well you wouldn’t know it til you got to the end of it.

The graphics are pretty solid here. The final levels get really dark but I think that’s more on my TV than the game. I did prefer the earlier worlds to the final one though. The final world felt like it dragged on a bit next to the others. One thing about levels is you never want to have a section where you have to wait a lot. Sections with waiting means that the second time around won’t be nearly as exciting and if you die a lot then it keeps lowering and lowering the hype. This was mainly an issue when climbing as Crash climbs very slowly. The souundtrack is pretty decent though. There weren’t any memorable tunes, but I had no issues when playing the game. It all felt pretty appropriate.

The game’s length is pretty short. I’d say that I cleared the game in about 2 hours. The game wasn’t very clear on how to save so I did have to beat the first 3 worlds twice. If you count that then the game lasted about 3 hours. To save you have to walk over to a big TV in the hub world and click on it. Definitely make sure you do that before turning the game off because otherwise you definitely won’t be thrilled to have to redo all of your work. At least I was able to see how quickly I could adapt because the second time I didn’t die nearly as much. It felt like I had really improved on those levels.

There is also a good amount of replay value here as you can try to get all of the collectibles. There are a ton of them to get on every level so if you do that then expect this game to last quite a bit longer. That’s really it, but I’m assuming you would unlock something pretty good for doing that. It would be a shame to do all that work and not really have anything to show for it. Surely the game wouldn’t even dream of doing that…right? If it did then you are definitely free to feel a little disappointed.

My only real complaint with the game aside from how the saving works is that in some levels it can be a bit of trial and error at the beginning. There are some obstacles you couldn’t possibly know are there until they suddenly appear and squash you. In particular this happens quite a bit in the underwater levels. You know where they are the second time but it’ll cost you a stock each time you find out. That’s a lot of stocks in the balance.

While this complaint doesn’t affect the score quite as much, the sound settings in this game as pretty odd. The cutscenes are all extremely low so you can’t hear anything til you raise the volume. Then the actual music and sound effects in the levels are decently loud. Finally you have the aerial levels where the sound effects are incredibly loud. Same for the electricity in ground levels. You can never have your TV at the right volume because the game keeps changing things up on you. I can’t think of another game that had this issue to such a large degree so that was definitely interesting.

Overall, The Wrath of Cortex is a pretty fun game. It’s a nice sequel to the series even if it doesn’t really do a whole lot that the first 3 didn’t. I’m always glad to see another Platformer and especially on the Gamecube. I’d recommend getting the game. The price is pretty good right now and who doesn’t want to revisit the world of Crash right? Sometimes you gotta just take the plunge and see where it takes you. I’ve got one more Crash game to play but then after that there might be a bit of a delay before I get more. I’ll definitely round them up at some point though.

Overall 7/10

Crash Bandicoot: Dance! De Jump! Na Daibouken Review


It’s time to look at a Crash manga. I recently got the PS4 collection that came out and it was definitely fun. That being said, the title character actually wasn’t that good. He’s probably one of the worst title characters that you are ever gonna see at least from the iconic ones. That may set off some warning bells for the manga since naturally you will usually want to have a good main character for the story right? This one is a gag manga so to an extent it never had all that much promise. I can see why it was cancelled.

So the story starts off with Crash getting dumped as the heroine declares that she is grown up and ready to move on. Crash literally cries himself a winner and goes into depression. Fortunately that’s when Cortex shows up and decides to trick Crash into helping him conquer the world. He tells the lead that if he collects all 25 of the Power Crystals that the heroine will come back to him. Crash eagerly believes this and sets off with his buddy Aku Aku to collect them all. Is Cortex really being honest?

It may not matter because Cortex himself doesn’t know what he wants. The plan seems simple enough at face value. He’ll let Crash handle the dangerous work of going into the various mazes to grab the gems while he stays at home. However, Cortex also tries to destroy Crash several times which would wreck this entire plan right? I couldn’t really get what his motivation for such a thing would be. Perhaps he just couldn’t hold back his utter disdain for Crash? He even tries to eat the main character. Also, why bother showing up in person at all? That defeats the purpose of sending Crash in first because then Cortex is subjecting himself to the same level of danger. Not very smart for a supposed genius.

Another thing that holds the series back is the amount of filler inside. The heroes only collect 4 gems across 2 whole volumes. At that pace it would take a grand total of 13 volumes to get them all. Have you ever heard of such a long video game adaption? Most of the chapters are stand alone as well so it’s not like the series is using it as an elaborate set up. One chapter is about Crash turning tiny and basically messing with Cortex from the inside. The amount of crude humor here is definitely regrettable. It only got worse in the very next story where Crash gets hit in the head and reverts back to a baby. This one has Pac-Man (and the Ghostly Adventures) level of crude humor within it. If you could take Cortex seriously at all before this, you won’t after this chapter. Same goes for Crash naturally. It’s just a little jarring to see chapters like this which don’t have any bearing on the story whatsoever. I guess maybe this was meant to be a really long running series or something, but there’s no way it could have stayed alive so long with this level of quality.

As the issues keep piling on for this manga, the art is another one to add on. It’s just very busy and chaotic throughout. You will have a tough time seeing exactly what is happening on the page. It’s not the worst art I’ve ever seen, but certainly in the bottom half. I don’t think a lot of effort was put into it, but I can’t say that I am surprised either. It’s a gag manga so I’m guessing the art and the plot weren’t very important. All of the effort likely went into the gags so it’s a shame that even those weren’t funny.

Crash is accurate to the games though. Perhaps even more extreme though. Here he uses the Power Gems as a tooth and ear pick and really doesn’t care about saving the world at all. He barely even cares about collecting the gems seeing as how he puts it off so much. He wasted months just washing dishes because he was out of money. There’s also an annoying monkey character in one of the chapters who steals all of Aku Aku’s money and trolls Crash the whole time. I don’t sympathize with Crash at all to be honest, but once again this had nothing to really do with the plot.

The only good character here would be the professional jewel thief. He is also after the crystals so naturally this leads to him meeting up with Crash. Crash makes a fool out of himself as you would expect, but this treasure hunter takes the high road and decides not to rob Crash. Instead he will get the jewels his way and you have to appreciate the guy’s honor code. It is something that the rest of the cast in Crash seem to lack. Too bad he only appeared once as the guy would have elevated the series.

I wonder if the series would have been better if they never mentioned anything about getting the 25 Power Gems. After all, marketing the series more as a random slice of life would have been far more accurate and then the filler chapters would actually make sense. I guess it might be weird for Crash to be adventuring for no reason, but it could just be something superficial like trying to get muscles to impress the heroine. It is what it is though and at least having a mediocre manga is better than not having one at all.


Overall, This Crash manga isn’t very well known and I can see why. I suppose it’s not any worse than the average gag manga, but with some of the others at least I like the characters more. Say what you will about Super Mario Kun, but it is a lot more entertaining just because the cast is able to sell it better. Mario and Luigi have a much better dynamic than Crash and Aku Aku ever will. When we have the big break up chapter between Crash and Aku Aku you can’t help but feel that Aku would be better off without the Bandicoot slowing him down. I guess it’ll be nice for Crash fans if we ever get the lost 3rd volume, but I can’t say that I would miss it. If you’re a big fan of the series then you should check it out. It’s not a terrible series or anything. I wouldn’t recommend it, but the series doesn’t do much wrong aside from just not being funny. At least there is some kind of plot happening even if it takes a break very often. If it ever returns, hopefully it is more focused.

Overall 5/10

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Stats and Records

Stats time!

PS4 Trophy#
Game 1 34%
Game 2 27%
Game 3 21%

Game Stats

Game 1 62% 0/26 Relics 0/26 Emeralds 0/2 Keys
Game 2 53% 1/42 Emeralds 0/27 Relics
Game 3 30% 25 Jewels 0 Emeralds 0 Keys 0/30 Relics