The Crash Retrospective continues with this party game set within the Crash universe. This follows Crash’s drift into the track with CTR, so we have another spin-off in the Crash series. With Naughty Dog not making this title, does the quality suffer, or does the title still offer a fun experience?
This game is a bit personal to me as it was one of the earliest games I played on the PS1 and this was my first Crash game.
After production of CTR, Naughty Dog washed their hands of the Crash IP and Sony worked with Universal one last time to cash in on Crash’s name sake during the PS1’s last few years on the market. After agreeing to a deal with Universal for CTR, they had the rights to another Crash adventure and both Sony & Universal thought a party game was the best direction to take the franchise in, after seeing the success of Mario Party on the Nintendo 64.
They hired Eurocom Interactive to develop the title, with Carney Games overseeing production to keep things in-line with past Crash titles.
One very interesting thing to note about Crash Bash is that the game is feature-complete inside Spyro 3. Universal put the demo in like they did with other games in the Spyro series due to owning the IP. The Spyro 3 demo does have “all” of the games but the vast majority of them are broken; very glitchy with vanishing platforms, duplicating obstacles and textures in many are missing.
Eurocom put the demo in Spyro 3’s coding and you can unlock the demo by holding L1, R2 and Square, with the game booting up into a small little demo of a few mini games to play alone or with another friend. The follow code works in most versions of Spyro 3, even the one up on NA PSN (not sure about the EU version). But…..you COULD enter this code on the menu screen after the first loading screen: Left, Right, Left, Right (x2), Left, Right (x3), Left, Right (x4), Left, Right (x5)
After entering this code, you click the Adventure mode and when you press start, you see the ‘Cheat Menu’. If you select it, you unlock debug mode for a very close to complete build of the game with most of the mini games selectable from the menu to play as. You lack a few things from the final game (option to play as other character, the Crystal/Relic/Gem challenges) but its more or less the full game, inside another game. This was discovered years later well after the games launch.
The game released in 2000 and people enjoyed it, and with that, Crash’s run on the PS1 was complete and the torch was passed to Travelers Tales to make the next mainline Crash title; Wrath of Cortex.
The game has some differences in the Japan, with a unique heme only in that version and the game is being re-titled Crash Bandicoot Carnival instead of Crash Bash.
The plot of the game is that Aku Aku & Uka Uka are ‘fighting’ about the balance of good and evil, with Uka Uka saying “Lets fight!”. Aku Aku says no, as the ancients forbid the masks from fighting each other.
So things escalate into a tournament between good vs. evil for the world with summoned pawns for the two masks standing in for them instead of fighting themselves. The fight in you see between them in Crash 3 was just them trying to help make the fight between Crash & Cortex easier or something along those lines. Also they aren’t split exactly as good vs. evil; one important part of the story is that Aku Aku only had Crash and Coco while Uka Uka had too many players. Because of this, they made a deal to allow two characters on the evil side to be part of the good guy side with Crash and Coco. They warp a number of characters from the Crash series (Crash, Coco, Cortex, Brio, Tiny, Dingodile, Koala Kong) and a random character.
They are split into good vs. evil and compete in a number of mini games to save the world! There are also two endings based on which side ‘wins’ at the end of Adventure Mode.
- Evil: If Uka Uka wins it’s all over and Aku Aku tells Crash and CoCo to run to safety.
- Good: Aku Aku takes the Crystals and sends them away,then sending Uka Uka away to prevent further harm.
With my comments in the history section, you would think this is a Mario Party clone, but it really is not. Unlike Mario Party where the boards are the main attraction, the Mini games take center stage in Crash Bash.
In Adventure mode, you pick one character and they go across a number of warp rooms which house one of five mini games to play. You have four ways to complete them; normal run, two modifiers and the relic run. This gives each mini game a lot of replay value overall, but we will touch on that in a bit. The MP modes is just you picking one set of mini games and after you select it, you and up to four players play the mini game. The selection is limited at the start, as you have to unlock them all before playing them. How do you unlock them? Playing Adventure mode of course.
CTR did this as well, but the big difference is two things; the Adventure mode there was more fleshed out then in Crash Bash and you could use cheat codes to unlock everything if you wanted to.
Crash Bash, you have to play through everything to unlock all the mini games. What makes things worse is that the same kinds of mini games repeat over and over again. The most common ones? Pogo Stick, Create Tossing, Polar Bear Riding and Hyper Pong. Those aren’t the official names but will call them that for the purpose of this Retrospective.
Other mini game styles include popping Balloons inside a clock, riding a tank to shoot down the competition, riding in a hover craft and boss fights that are a lot of fun.
The Pogo Stick game has you bouncing around all over the place to ‘paint’ a series of tiles and when you smash a purple box, it tallies the places you marked and that is your score. You keep doing this until the time is up and then the one with the highest score gets a trophy. Do this two more times with assistance with speed shoes (to go faster) and missiles to stun foes, and you complete the mini game.
Create Tossing is you killing your foes using TNT Crates, melee attacks that are different for each character, Basic creates and power ups in the level. Very fun and they go quite fast.
Polar Bear Riding is great fun as it was built in mind with the three-round system they made for the game. They go very fast, the polar bears have different dashes depending on the character picked and they mix things up for some styles of the mini game; one example has you shooting bombs at each other and if they hit you once, you lose the polar bear…..but you can still move around. Get hit again, you lose the round.
Hyper Pong is very fun, as it is literal pong, but the pinball’s can move rapidly over time. It can be very hectic and out of the four mini game styles, this is the most fun to me. The final set of mini games includes the following: The Tank games, Medieval games, and the Dash games, with each one having four variants.
The Tanks games which depending on character have different abilities, is about blowing up the others with your main weapon or mines. Later, the stages change up by having dynamic stages that change over time, and then having guys attack the players. Dash is about racing around and trying to be first place, with turbo power ups and missiles that can spin guys out, even out the ring, these start getting stage obstacles that change things up and even a giant goo monster. The medieval games can range from popping balloons, to riding dragons to hit a moving target, they are all different.
The bosses are all very interesting, with them being based on past bosses in the Crash series. One has you fighting Papu Papu from Crash 1 again, with you throwing creates at him until he dies. Between him summoning foes and the tiles moving all around, it was fun fighting him. He has a force field which requires you to kill the magic Crash clones to turn the field off. From there, you can throw or even spin creates into Papu Papu.
The Berinator has you ride on the polar bear and wait for him to drop a missile you can shoot at him. He shoots canons at the stage which makes it smaller each round, and then sends in robotic dogs with missiles to attack you. After dodging them, you can knock them off the stage.
The Komodo Brothers have a giant huge machine many have issues with which ranges from missiles to maces. Once you defeat it both come out and fight you in their tanks, which game considers a checkpoint. I used the cheat inside the games demo from Spyro 3 and honestly got a great laugh from testing this out; the boss icons for the wizards? They were Homer and Bart from the Simpsons. Such an odd and out of place cameo but they likely never expected people to see that. Anyway, the boss has you shooting missiles you get from the crates all over the arena and after three waves of attacks, they split up into two tanks.
I played the game alone both when I first got it and when I played it for this Retrospective, so was not able to comment on how the game feels with friends. But I enjoyed my time with it greatly. Just keep in mind that the mini games do repeat and they DO get stale after a while.
This games presentation is a bit of a step down from the Naughty Dog games, but it still looks nice. Many of the models are ripped out of Crash 1 & Crash 2, so they have the same look and style from prior games. But for a simple party game, the game has great presentation.
Load times having a great beat when loading, bright colors and strong designs for the mini game locations and very good performance make this a solid looking PS1 title.
Musically, Crash Bash shines really bright with one of my favorite scores in the Crash series. Melodies from Crash 1-3 get remixed in creative ways and the beat & sound of Crash is present here in spades. Very solid soundtrack and one I tend to randomly come back to when writing.
Crash Bash is a very interesting game, as it marks the series passing hands from Sony to Universal completely. After this, Sony and Naughty Dog moved on to other projects and while that is sad, Crash looked to be in good hands at Universal.
Bash is a strong party game that while repetitive at points, looks great, feels right and is a bash to play alone or with buddies. Its the only game in the Crash series not on the PSN store, but it is in Japan and you will be able to experience a lot of the game if you own Spyro 3.
The Crash Retrospective is on NeoGaf.