After a long period of abstinence, the former Playstation mascot Crash Bandicoot has reappeared more frequently in recent years: in 2017, the first three series parts with the N. Sane Trilogy donated a new edition. The remake Crash Team Racing Nitrofueled followed in 2019. In October of this year, after more than twelve years, a new full-fledged single-player title for PC and console was released. And did in the test Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time then a really good figure! Fans of the denim-wearing bag roof, including the author, should actually be completely happy. Or? Thought wrong! Because for the final salvation of my soul I still need the return of a title that had a major impact on my childhood: Crash Bash.
That just celebrated its 20th birthday in Europe. On December 1, 2000, Crash Bash found its way onto the very first Playstation and was a double premiere: It was not just the last Crash Bandicoot game that was exclusively available for Sony devices. It was also the first installment in the franchise that was no longer from the original creator Naughty Dog was brought out. By then he had already set out to enrich the platforming genre with Jak and Dexter. Instead, Eurocom Entertainment Software took over the development – among others with producer Mark Cerny, today's system architect of Playstation 5.
Mario party in bag badger fur
They had made it into their heads to expand the Crash Bandicoot franchise with a few new genres. In addition to single player jumping fun, they wanted to offer something to multiplayer fans as well. After the racing game Crash Team Racing, which was released in 1999, there was an attempt to conquer the field of party games for yourself – the furry answer to Mario Partyalbeit with a few changes: there is no board, no dice, no random events. Instead, you choose from the Crash-typical Warp Rooms mini-games that not only have much more gameplay to offer than the Nintendo counterpart. They also play much faster and more intensely.
Source: PC Games
In adventure mode they are even built into a story. However, she completely renounces the framework of the three previous crash parts and, in keeping with the spirit of the time, is incredibly stupid: In Mortal Kombat style, the two guardian geys Aku Aku and Uka Uka step in a floating temple in hyperspace for the ultimate battle between good and evil. And, of course, by rounding up their own following and letting them compete in an Olympics in the most varied of obscure disciplines.
As stupid as this third fight between the light and dark side sounds, the strange premise of Crash Bash actually offers a few interesting possibilities – for example, to slip into the skin of the bad guys. Well, that was partly possible in Crash Team Racing. In addition to Neo Cortex, Tiny Tiger or Dingodile, Doktor Nitrus Brio and Koala Kong are also playable this time. And with Rilla Roo, a strange mixture of gorilla and kangaroo, Eurocom have even conjured up a completely new character out of their hat. But it probably doesn't fit into the canon so much that after its debut it had to wait a good 19 years for it to appear in a DLC Crash Team Racing Nitrofueled a re-appearance was granted.
Between Pogostick and tank driving
But enough of the characters, get down to business: the games themselves. Crash Bash was a lot of fun at the time, mainly because of the unusual mini-games. In Space Bash you throw each other with TNT boxes on a skyscraper. In Mallet Mash you beat mushrooms with huge wooden hammers. And in Polar Push, a personal favorite, you try to knock your opponents off a floating ice floe while riding a polar bear. It really doesn't get any more bizarre. One should think so. Because in the course of the game you continuously unlock new games in which you drive tanks or race on dolphins. That keeps the motivation curve high.
Source: PC Games
In addition, there are also modifications to already known competitions: In addition to trophies for your first victory, you can also get hold of the jewels, crystals and relics known from the platformers, if you face special modifiers and handicaps. But they are really not without! Crash Bash already has a fairly crisp level of difficulty. If you want to play the party game to 200 percent, you should bring a lot of stamina and a certain resistance to frustration. To get every collectible, you have to play some levels at least six times, but mostly much more often. In retrospect, of course, it's really repetitive, but as a child it didn't bother you.
Especially since there is still the great opportunity to experience Crash Bash completely with a friend. In the local multiplayer mode, the title is twice as fun. Not only because you then tackle the various disciplines as a team, so the relationships are much more balanced. If you ever choose a character from the good and the bad side, you can even look forward to a standoff at the end, which will give you a happy or bad end, depending on the winner. In addition to the adventure mode, there was also the tournament and battle mode for up to four players. There isn't so much to say about that, though. Because let's be honest: who has owned a multitap adapter?
Not pretty, but fun
Source: PC Games
Speaking of technology: Compared to the two years older Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Crash Bash cuts a slightly worse figure. Above all, the character models look a bit more angular and less detailed. In return, the developers make up for this with the great level design: Every single stage has an individual style, and there are even alternative backgrounds for crystal challenges. In addition, the worlds are all full of fan service: Keg Kaboom is an allusion to the medieval levels from Crash Bandicoot 3, Toxic Dash was clearly inspired by the "Toxic Waste" stage from Crash Bandicoot 1. There are also various cameo appearances by well-known characters such as Ripper Roo or Dr. N. Gin.
All of this is rounded off by four mini-bosses who are also long-time fans of the franchise – such as Papu Papu, Komodo Moe and Komodo Joe or Nitros Oxide. They combine the gameplay known from the mini-games with an additional twist: In Bearminator you are on the ice floe known from Polar Push, but the nasty polar bear shoots bombs from his submarine, which make the playing field smaller and smaller.
Source: PC Games
All of this is accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack penned by Steve Duckworth. Among other things, he was also responsible for the scores of Duke Nukem 64 or Spyro: A Heroes Tail and in Crash Bash shoots out a kind of best-of-remix of well-known and popular crash themes: Whether Dot Dash, the new mix of Dingodile's theme, or just the relaxed rhythm of the loading screen – every track is catchy!
It is all the more unfortunate that Crash Bash was received rather average in its time. On Metacritic it is a 68, the colleagues from Gamespot attested that it was absolutely mediocre. Even economically, the party game couldn't keep up with its colleagues. According to VGChartz, Crash Bash has sold just under 3.4 million units. That is clearly behind the 4.8 million of a Crash Team Racing and even more clearly behind the approximately 6.8 million that the original Crash Bandicoot was able to sell.
Regardless of this, multiplayer fun still has a passionate fan base that celebrates the release anniversary every year, tinkers with unofficial new editions or asks publisher Activision for a remaster with an online petition. You definitely have my signature safe. Because with pimped up graphics, online multiplayer and a few additional mini-games, Crash Bash could still be a real hit today!
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