For a time, Crash Bandicoot was Sony's flagship character and spokesperson... er... spokesmarsupial(?). He went so far as to film commercials in Nintendo's parking lot cracking wise about their console. Given this staunch opposition to all things Nintendo, you'd probably surmise (much like I did) that nothing resembling a Crash Bandicoot game would ever materialize on any of Nintendo's consoles.
Well, we were both wrong.
To be quite honest, I've never actually played a Crash Bandicoot game before, so I had absolutely no idea what was going on story-wise when I flipped this game into my Game Cube. Thankfully, there was a very lengthy video sequence that set up the game. I didn't time it, mostly because I didn't want to sit through it again, but it was long enough for me to wonder if I had bought a game or Crash Bandicoot The Motion Picture.
There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the story behind this game. Bad guys are concocting a plan to off the hero by releasing ancient evils upon the world. To thwart these evils, you must go through various stages and gather the crystals hidden within. Typical stuff.
It's fairly obvious from looking at and listening to this game that literally several dozen dollars went into its production. The characters are acceptably rendered, and the stages all manage to look fine. They even managed to wrangle some quasi-celebrity talent to provide some of the voices. Before traipsing through a select few stages, some of the Ancient Evils appear to talk smack to you to help keep you motivated. I had to put down the controller and walk away from the Gamecube (and this game) once I heard the voice of R. Lee Ermy coming out of the Water Elemental Mask, Wa-Wa.
While at first it appears that there is some variety to the stages, many of them feel suspiciously similar; run around on a predtermined course in a 3D area, grab all the fruits/crystals, optionally bust open the boxes and head toward the exit. Occasionally you'll control Crash's sister Coco or pilot the odd vehicle, but those stages are the exception rather than the rule. From what I can gather, this is all typical Crash fare.
This probably won't come as a large surprise to longtime followers of the Crash series, but Crash is about as durable as a house of cards in a tornado. Touching a seal (or a bat or anything else that moves in this game) spells instant death for our protagonist. This is offset by the ludicrous amount of lives you acquire throughout the game. By the time I got to the seventh stage I already had well over 20 lives in reserve and was in absolutely in no danger of running out in a tough spot; I couldn't find any. The game isn't particularly challenging. It's possible to achieve success by persistance alone, which made for a tedious experience.
Eventually I just gave up and decided to move on to Crash Blast, the game that you can download into your Game Boy to supposedly unlock secrets. The game really isn't anything more than a shooting gallery. The only secret I managed to unlock was an advertisement for an upcoming Game Boy Crash title. Meh.
So we have a game that looks OK, sounds OK, and plays OK. What does that leave us with? A game that's just OK. Given that this game is probably aimed more at children than someone in their mid-20s, it's lack of depth/challenge is probably to be expected, but there is very little in this game that made me want to keep coming back for more.