Liam’s Game Room #49 (Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos, Playstation)

Introduction

Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos is a 3D platformer developed by Argonaut Software and published by Fox Interactive for the Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1997. The game was initially pitched to Nintendo to be developed for the Nintendo 64 as a 3D game where the player played as Yoshi, but Nintendo rejected the concept. After Nintendo rejected this concept, the relationship between Nintendo and Argonaut, who collaboratively worked on the Star Fox 2 broke down and instead Argonaut redeveloped the game to be an original IP. Once the concept for Croc as a character was formed, Argonaut went to Sony to try and find a publisher to publish the game for the Playstation and it was Fox Interactive who would publish this and the sequel, Croc 2. It would be quite interesting to see how a 3D game where the player controlled Yoshi would have looked like because Argonaut understood the Nintendo hardware quite well due to them developing Star Fox 1 and 2 for the SNES. After the fallout, Star Fox 64 would be developed by Nintendo EAD meaning that any future association with Star Fox and Argonaut was quashed.

Story

King Rufus, the king of a furry race called the Gobbos is watching the sunrise in his village, when a baby crocodile flows up the river in a woven basket. The innocence of this baby crocodile meant that the village would look after the crocodile and bring up the crocodile to learn to walk. However, one day an evil group called the Dantinis invade the peaceful town because he does not like the peaceful ways of the Gobbos. He locks up all the Gobbos and it is up to Croc to save the Gobbos and rid the town of the Dantinis.

There are a couple of problems that I have with the story. If the Dantinis wanted to rid the village of the happy ways that the inhabitants live, why did he only lock up the Gobbos and not Croc as well? Croc is considered to be part of the group alongside the Gobbos and it does not make sense why Croc is not locked up as well. The other issue is that why did the Dantini invade at this specific time and not any other time? I feel that the same does not make this at all clear and it feels to me that it is a detail that was overlooked by the story writers. I feel that some clarity to why the specific timing of the invasion would help the player understand the motifs of the Dantinis better.

Gameplay

Croc Legend Of The Gobbos is a linear 3D platformer where the goal of each level is to find the end of the stage and progress through 4 worlds to save the king of the Gobbos. There is a major glaring issue to this game and that is that the player does not have to save all the Gobbos, which is mentioned in the plot is the goal of the game. So the game actually contradicts itself within the first level and this does is actually somewhat frustrating. However, if the game locked the player to finding all the Gobbos, then the game would actually be more annoying. I think that if there was one Gobbo on each level that the player had to find rather than finding 6 optional Gobbos, then it would make sense. What this means is that there are 72 Gobbos to save and in the opening cutscenes, the player does not see more than 15 Gobbos.

Croc 1.jpg

The controls of the game are one of the strongest weaknesses of the game because in the early levels, the game allows the player to get used to these weird controls. However, within 4 or 5 levels, these awkward controls start to get annoying to the point of constantly dying because of a war between the player and the controls. I feel that the controls have a horrible sense of stiffness to them and Croc has the same turning circle of a tank. The controls are centred around tank controls, but I feel that this is not a game that these type of game because the design and the difficulty of the levels do not match it very well at all in the later stages. I feel that the free flowing controls of Gex Enter The Gecko would suit this game perfectly because the turning circle works perfectly.

The next issue is that the camera likes to go into awkward angles at some inopportune times, meaning that mid jump the camera could shift to somewhere else entirely and the make the next jump completely blind or impossible to make. The camera can sometimes even get stuck on walls, meaning that the player can not see Croc or the enemies because it is stuck somewhere else entirely. Once again, Gex Enter The Gecko, a game similar to this got it right because the game offered different camera options, as well as different levels of control of the camera, which allowed expert players who understood the camera to get the most out of it and allowed beginner players to concentrate on controlling the character. Croc has none of these options and the automatic nature of the camera means that the player is constantly wrestling with the camera position and this does not bode well with the stiff controls.

Croc 2.jpg

The worlds that the game depicts through the graphics is simply gorgeous and has a lot of detailing on the environments really makes the game really good on the eyes. The worlds have lots of small details like the the different shades of green in the first world. The field of view is not the greatest because there were times when I felt that I went the wrong way until the sections slightly further off in the distance popped in the foreground. There is quite a bit of popping where things suddenly come into the view of the player literally out of nowhere.

The enemy variety that the game has is vast and really helps the game show off the worlds that the player will be going through. I feel that the only thing that brings this down is how dull and boring the boss are for each world because the player does through many tough levels and the bosses end up being trivial. The other issue I have with a large majority of the enemies is the fact that they respawn and can spawn on top of the player. This means that the player could take a hit and lose all of the crystals they have collected because of a design error.

Music

The music of Croc Legend Of The Gobbos is where the game truly shines because the soundtrack is very well composed and orchestrated. The soundtrack is centred around the main theme, but is orchestrated in such a way that it both represents a new part of the same world or a new area entirely. The leitmotif of Croc is extremely catchy and these variations around this main theme both sound familiar but also new with every variation. The crisp orchestral sound offers this sense of innocence to Croc as a character, but also helps to comment on the different emotions that the character would be feeling on his journey.

Croc 3.jpg

Each world has a variation of the main theme, which gets explored heavily as Croc explores the world that he is in. Whether it be the Christmas inspired sound of the Snow Island, where the traditional Christmas sound is explored to perfection or the Samba inspired sound of the Desert Island, the game sticks a theme for a world, but explores it thoroughly. Although, this sounds like the themes would get boring after a while, the catchiness of the main leitmotif of the world means that the variations that the game offers make the theme sound fresh.

Conclusion

Croc Legend Of The Gobbos ends up being a game that still looks great to this day, but the controls even at the time were a struggle to work with because of how awkward they are. I think that if the controls were much more free flowing, than this game would be have been much more well remembered. The respawning enemies gimmick after a while gets annoying and add arbitrary difficulty when the levels themselves are hard enough. The music in the game saves the game from being frustrating because the music is so damn catchy and an absolute pleasure to listen to. I can still listen to the music away from the game and really appreciate the effort put into every layer of orchestration and arrangement.

6/10

Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use

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