Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped is a 1998 3D platformer developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Playstation. The game is the third and final game in the original trilogy of Crash Bandicoot series and is considered by many to be the best in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot as a character was used as a mascot by Sony to help promote the Playstation, similar to how Nintendo had Mario and Sega had Sonic. However, at the time of the original Crash game, Super Mario 64 had just been released for the Nintendo 64 and Sega released Sonic 3D: Flickies Island for the Genesis and Sega Saturn respectively. Super Mario 64 was critically acclaimed by reviewers at the time and is an example of a successful switch from 2D to 3D. However, Sonic 3D: Flickies Island received mediocre reviews and initially didn’t make the leap to 3D successfully. The reason why Sonic struggled and Mario was successful was because of the angle that the player was controlling the character. Mario was from behind the character and the player had full control of the camera, meaning that the player could see the environment around them. Whilst Sonic went for a locked isometric approach, which is where the camera is fixed and the player has no control over the camera. Crash Bandicoot went for a camera angle similar to Super Mario 64, but was fixed in place which meant that the camera angles weren’t awkward.
The story begins at the end of Crash Bandicoot 2: The Wrath Of Cortex where the space vessel of Dr. Neo Cortex is destroyed by N.Brio’s Beam and the remains of the vessel crash into a tropical mountain. The tropical mountain releases an evil entity called Uka Uka who orders Neo Cortex to retrieve all of the time crystals, relics and gems so that they can rule the world. The way that this team is able to get all of the time crystals is that Uka Uka employs the abilities of N.Tropy, who alongside 3 other villains and Neo Cortex create the time twisting machine, that allows for villains to travel through time to take crystals from different time periods. Uka Uka is the twin brother of Aku Aku and Aku Aku senses the danger from his recently released evil brother and asks Crash Bandicoot and his sister Coco to go to the time twisting machine, get the crystals before Uka Uka gets them and defeat Neo Cortex once and for all.
The story is quite impressive and original, which gives a fantastic backdrop and a purpose to the design of the game. The fact that the game continues the story from the previous game in the franchise, but does it in such a way that means even if the player is new to the franchise, these players won’t be confused because the story is also standalone. What this means that players who have played the previous game can continue the storyline and feel that the game is expanding upon the original Crash Bandicoot plot, whilst new players can still experience the story in such a way that they might get interested in the previous games in the series.
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped is a 3d platformer that is split up into 25 main levels and 5 bosses around 5 different time portals. The player must collect all of the time crystals from one portal and defeat the boss of that portal to access the next five levels. However, it is not only time crystals that the player can collect as the player can earn gems and relics, which add up to the 100% completion of the game. Gems are earned when the player breaks open all of the boxes that are contained with the level and these gems don’t unlock anything, however there are coloured gems that unlock secret paths and other paths that are required to collect all the gems as some stages has 2 gems. The relics are time attacks against the clock where the player must beat the stage within a set period of time to earn the relic for that level. There are 3 tiers of relic ranging from Sapphire which is the lowest tier and the easiest to obtain, gold which is the highest tier that the game will tell the time that will needed to obtain it and Platinum. However, the tier of relics does not affect the percentage completion, but more offers the player more of an extra challenge.
I think that the way the game was designed in such a way that requires the player to play in different ways, for example look out for all the boxes to earn gems and later on playing the level in the fastest and most effective way possible offers a lot of replayability to these levels. I think that the 5 warp rooms are a great idea rather than all the levels being open from the start because this gives the player a feeling of progression and also a difficulty curve that is fair.
Speaking of difficulty, this game has a really fair difficulty curve and it allows for player to get used to the mechanics and the way that Crash and Coco controls before throwing anything extremely difficult at the player. This is a massive positive, especially considering that the game was aimed at a younger audience because very young children can understand the controls because they are very simple and easy to learn. Towards the latter half of the game, the levels become quite complex and will require the player to sometimes be quite creative to find solutions to progressing through the game.
Throughout all the levels, regardless of the level, there are boxes which can be broken which are checkpoint boxes, which when the player loses a life, the player will be returned to that point in the level. There are multiple checkpoint boxes and this really helps if the player is stuck on a specific section of the game because the player would not have to repeat potentially the entirety of a level. However, for the relic time trial challenges, there are no checkpoint boxes, but rather boxes that can be broken to stop the timer. What the player will normally find in boxes are Wumpa fruits, which when 100 of them are collected will grant the player an extra life. There are also boxes that can be broken that will release an Aku Aku mask, that acts like an extra hit, similar to Mario titles where when a player gets hit, the power would be lost. However, in this game, up to 2 can be stacked for extra hits, whilst the 3rd mask would make the player invincible for about 15-20 seconds. The final 2 boxes of note are TNT, which explode 3 seconds after the player has jumped on it and Nitro boxes, that explode upon contact and will mean that Crash will take a hit.I feel that this variety in the types of boxes makes the game more interesting because rather than having boxes that just give the player collectibles for more lives, there are boxes that can be extremely useful.
The graphics of this game are simply stunning and have aged extremely well for an early 3D platformer. The texture detail on the walls and backgrounds is really good and there are not any occasions that I have ran into where the low polygon count and the graphic restrictions of the Playstation have held the game back. The depth perception for this game is really impressive because there are no issues with enemies, structures or boxes popping in from the background, but rather as the player moves through the level, it is sort of zooms into focus. The sheer variety of locations and locations in each level makes each level feel that it was designed and stemmed from a standalone game because each level is distinctive in it’s look and the way that it plays. One of the most impressive things about the graphics is how much detail went into the way that shadows are cast from enemies and the playable characters because whilst a small detail that perhaps wasn’t expected from an early 3D platformer, this game has quite accurate shadows. The shadows match up with the environments as well when the player is moving, which is extremely impressive considering there are some Playstation 2 games I have played where the shadows felt off. Each warp room as well is designed from a different era of story and the detailing that went into the warp room to create a futuristic feel creates a easy to navigate hub world.
Just when the graphics and the gameplay mold perfectly together, the music adds another layer of perfection to the mix. The music was composed by Josh Mancell, who composed all the music for the first 3 Crash Bandicoot games, Crash Team Racing and the Jak and Daxter trilogy. The quality of the compositions is outstanding with the soundtrack being comprised of predominantly a live orchestra with some synthesiser flairs throughout. The music matches the environments and locations that the levels depict masterfully and in fact adds something to each level. Safe to say without the outstanding soundtrack, there would be something taken away from the game as a whole.
It is safe to say that Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped is a masterpiece and it helped really set the standard for what future 3D platformers. It can be argued that Super Mario 64 helped out with this as well, but I feel that Crash Bandicoot 3 has aged quite a lot better and it is perfectly playable now even 20 years after the original release. The graphics are amazing, the level design is timeless and the soundtrack is the cherry on top of the perfectly blending dessert. I can recommend this game wholeheartedly because it is the perfect example of how 3D platformers are done and what the best formula for a game in this genre should be.
Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use