reviews\ Jan 23, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced - GBA - Review

The Crash Bandicoot games have had a loyal following since the series has been introduced on the Playstation console a long while back. While the beloved antics of platform heroes such as Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog clearly stand out more, Crash has managed to remain a platform favorite. Aside from the console games, Crash has joined the platform giants in the handheld system department following Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. Once again, Crash shows off stuff in the latest Game Boy Advance game Crash Bandicoot: N-Tranced . . . and fans couldn’t be happier.

This game takes place directly after the events that occurred during The Huge Adventure when the evil Uka Uka and his followers (including the dastardly Dr. Neo Cortex) had been dumped into deep space. He is joined by Dr. Nefarious Tropy who devises a scheme to gain world domination. In order to do this; he comes up with a genius plan to use those heroes that had thwarted them in the first place--Crash Bandicoot, his sister Coco and the muscle-bound bandicoot Crunch. To do this, the evil Dr. Nefarious enlists the aid of the evil master hypnotist N. Trance. Having captured Coco and Crunch, Crash sets out to rescue them and do away with the evil doers.

The game plays like a true platformer with jumps, crouch, tornado spins, and plenty of crate smashing in order to get the prize inside it. There are even newer moves such as Slide (when you need to quickly slide underneath a tight space or body slam (when you need to break tough objects). Special moves, such as Super Slide, are won after completing certain levels.

As far as the levels are concerned, each level offers a different challenge. You are taken to a world map and can choose the level you want to enter, although certain advanced levels cannot be reached without first completing certain levels. A level basically offers the same platform goodness seen in the past Crash games only they add some refreshing levels where Crash rides a wakeboard (collecting objects while trying not to get eaten by a giant shark) or moving through a level inside a metal sphere. You can also play as certain characters like Coco.

The game’s only problem is that the game can be a bit too easy at times. Often you can zip through a level without much trouble or without much resistance from the collection of enemies. A boss fight (Crash goes up against his hypnotized friends as well as N-Trance himself) is just simply a question of memorizing their attack patterns. This is not to say that you won’t find a challenge here. There are plenty of difficult areas within a level that put up something of a worthy challenge.

The game’s visuals are also surprisingly good-looking, bringing the early Playstation Crash games to mind. The backgrounds are actually pretty great to look at and each level has its own charming details (such as the detailed hieroglyphics and mummy tombs in the Pharaoh’s Funhouse level) and enough strange enemies to pounce on. Aside from the great backgrounds, the special effects are also pretty impressive. Cut scenes come to life with full motion characters and Crash looks good in action (or when he’s getting burnt to a crispy critter).

Nothing is more pleasantly remarkable than hearing excellent sound in a GBA game and N-Tranced certainly manages to showcase some great sound effects as well as music. Interestingly, the music sounds straight out of a console version of the game. The tunes even change with each level and fit the particular level theme while it’s at it. For example, in the Prints of Persia level, the music takes on a slightly Arabic feel. The sound effects are also classic Crash, with the smashing of crates and his mighty spin the dominant sound effects.

Crash Bandicoot: N-Tranced is a tribute to those great platform games that are not just highly enjoyable but also deliciously addictive. The game doesn’t offer anything really new or inventive to the mix but it does manage to keep things interesting by adding different elements we seen and loved before. This is platform gaming at its most fun and Crash Bandicoot fans will definitely enjoy this one.

Gameplay: 8.5
The game’s controls are wonderfully simple while adding a number of much appreciated moves such as slides and body slam. Crash moves in the same fashion that has been seen in the console games but also gets to ride a magic carpet, an atlasphere, and a wakeboard and use a Heli-Pack. You also get to play as key characters such as Crash’s sister, Coco.

All the classic platform essentials are here, such as crate bashing and the collection of fruits for extra lives as well as plenty of item hunting. Gamers will have fun hunting down the many secrets each level has to offer as well as finding the bonus areas.

Graphics: 8.1
On the visual front, N-Tranced is a pretty impressive looking game with plenty of details that make you wish the GBA’s screen was a lot bigger in order to fully appreciate the wonderful backgrounds and the unique enemies. Each crate has its own distinct appearance and thanks to the great graphics, you can easily tell them apart.

Crash Bandicoot also looks pretty good out there, especially in between levels during animated cut scenes. The effects are wonderful enough that you’ll witness Crash burn to a crisp if he falls into a pit of fire or get flatten when a pillar comes crashing down on top of him. His spin looks pretty damn cool too.

Sound: 8.2
Much like the game’s graphics, the sound in this game is a pleasant surprise in that it features some great sound effects and classic Crash tunes. The music is composed of lively cartoon-like tropical music, although the tunes change throughout the game and levels. The best part of this is that the music fits the overall theme of the particular level you’re playing at the moment.

The sound effects are also well done and you’ll notice it in many things such as smashing crates, crying out in comical pain when you die or spinning wildly like the Tasmanian Devil. When the moving pillars slam down, you hear the heavy concrete thump of it. When the shark is after you in one level, you hear its teeth snap as it attempts to swallow you whole. It’s a job well done, indeed.

Difficulty: Easy
You can zip through all the early level pretty quickly mostly because the enemies don’t really offer too much of a real threat. The game place emphasis on collecting objects and things (such as fruit) and much of the game will have you smashing crates in true classic platformer fashion. And the boss fights are simply a matter of learning your enemy’s attack pattern.

Concept: 8.5
N-Trance delivers a good dose of platform gaming while keeping things a bit diverse with elements we seen before--although it’s not to say we don’t appreciate these additions. While nothing really new is added, certain games levels (such as the Globe Trottin’ level) keep the game fresh. It’s fun to see a game that, at least, tries to diversify.

Multiplayer: 8.7
The game also offers multiplayer fun for up to two gamers using two Game Boy Advance systems and the GBA Link Cable. Your friend also has to have their own copy of N-Tranced in order for it to work but once gamers are connected, they can dive into multiplayer games like Atlasphere (battle against a friend in a rolling ball) and Link Race (where you race through a level with a friend). The highlight of the multiplayer game is that you can download characters and another multiplayer game mode from a saved game of Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure.

Overall: 8.3
While it’s not exceedingly innovative, Crash Bandicoot: N-Tranced is an extremely entertaining platform game that’s just too hard to put down. Gamers will love the astonishingly pleasant visuals and the slew of levels filled with plenty of secrets and mini games. If you’re looking for a good platformer, especially one with multiplayer fun, give N-Tranced a try.


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