Crash Bandicoot: Twinsanity (January 13, 2007)

I really like the Crash Bandicoot series of games for Playstation. It has a cutesy playful feel, it has levels that are a good size for 30 minute gaming sessions, it tracks lots of items for you to collect to complete the game, and somehow the control and the motion of the hero are kinda fun. So, I was hopeful when I brought home a used copy of Crash Bandicoot: Twinsanity.

Twinsanity is a let down, despite having all of the above ingredients. The problem is the level design. Mainly, it's just too hard. The initial learn-to-play levels are already as difficult as the last 20% or 40% of the levels on the original Crash Bandicoot. You die repeatedly, and if you die at the wrong place, it will force you through the cut scene again with no option to skip it. Fay has now heard a hundred times, "Look, a power crystal.... and it's MINE!". It was cute the first five times.

On top of the general difficulty, parts of the game are just poorly put together. For example, if you die enough in an area, the game gives you a shield to protect you against one hit. However, on the very same levels, they stack multiple exploding boxes on top of each other so that one collision counts as more than one hit anyway. This is just poor design; either a stack of boxes should be one hit, or only one of the boxes in the stack should be explosive, or they should not bother with the pointless shield.

Symbolic of the poor design is the way the game handles motion through the ocean. Crash cannot swim. By itself, that is a fine choice, but the game encourages you to explore the island you start on (once you finally get through the hellish "learn to play" levels described above, anyway). However, guess what happens if you wade out into the ocean? Yep -- instant death.

There are many fine ways to handle the ocean to make a nicer playing experience. The simplest is to forbid going out into the water at all. Not bad would be to let people swim out a certain distance and then block them. Fancier would be to have a swim gage so that you can only swim a certain amount of time before drowning. Among all of these fine choices... they just kill you? It is like Ultima 8 all over again.

If you like run and jump games, and you like cutesy graphics to a game, then I recommend the Crash Bandicoot series in general. Just stay away from Twinsanity.

Lex Spoon