Title: Crash Bandicoot: Warped
Version Played: Playstation (1998)
Last time we looked at Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and I came to the conclusion that, while that title is totally adequate, there was just something about it that didn’t quite strike the chord that I wanted it to. So, this week, I’ve turned to the third Crash Bandicoot game, Warped, to see if I can’t scratch that bandicoot itch I’ve got… That was a weird sentence. Let’s move on.
Yes, Crash Bandicoot: Warped is the third game in the series, though you’d be forgiven for not knowing that. While the little number 3 on the clock on the cover is pretty prominent, the game actually dropped the numeral for all releases except in Europe and Australia, of all places, where it’s just called Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Yeah, a little gripe, but come on man, just put that little 3 there, don’t be shy.
Now THAT's a prominent number 3.
Anyway, coming back to that clock, let’s go ahead and explain that. See, the plot involves time travel. So… so that’s why there’s a clock. I guess?
While “time travelling Crash” would be a pretty good three-word summary of this game, for those who want the actual story, it goes a little bit like this: After Neo Cortex’s orbiting space station of death gets destroyed by Crash in the last game, it crashes to the ground on earth only to awaken the ancient evil of Uka Uka. Uka Uka is an African-tribe-type floating mask who, it turns out, has been behind all of Cortex’s schemes so far, somehow.
Is this racist? This is racist isn't it? Oh god...
Uka Uka acquires the help of one Dr. N. Tropy (get it?) to help build a time machine so that he and Cortex can pick up the powerful purple crystals from the last game at different points in time. So, Aku Aku, who is the floating mask that follows Crash around at times (and who, I’m fairly certain, wasn’t actually a character until now) enrolls Crash and his sister Coco in a scheme to get the crystals before his evil twin. So, you must travel across both time and space in order to acquire the crystals.
Also, Crash must kill himself from the future in order to make sure his mom goes to the Enchantment under the sea dance with his dad so they can stop the Army of the Twelve Monkeys from releasing a deadly virus.
"None of that last paragraph actually happens, does it?" '...no.'
As far as how the game plays, well it’s really pretty similar to Crash 2. You get 5 levels at a time, and you can complete those however you see fit, but you can’t move on to the next 5 until you’ve beaten those and there’s boss fights after every five levels.
The nice thing is that the platforming has been really refined and feels probably as good as it ever will. There’s also some fun sections where you get to play as Coco riding her pet tiger, which just feels really smooth and are welcome breaks from the straightforward platforming of the Crash levels.
No, but seriously, these levels are awesome.
But, does it stand the test of time?
Looking at it from a technical and objective standpoint, it’s tough to say what the differences really are between this game and Crash 2, but for whatever reason, yeah it’s just a lot more enjoyable for me.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular fondness for Crash 3. It was the only entry in the series that I really played in any capacity when it first came out (in the form of a demo on a demo disc – remember those?). Then, several years later I would more-or-less blind speed run it on a friend’s playstation (he didn’t have a memory card so I just finished the whole thing in one sitting, and for some reason he tolerated this).
So maybe some of this is just my own nostalgia for Crash 3 in particular, but I can’t help but feel that there’s just something about this game that makes it superior. Maybe it’s the polished mechanics or the diversity or even the little touches, but I have to admit that over the last 3 weeks, Crash 3 has been the only game so far that I’ve actually been excited to come back to, and a little sad to put behind me.
We may have Uncharted and Last of Us and inFamous and Resistance now, but remember when a video game protagonist could be something as dumb and (honestly) stupid as an anthropomorphic bandicoot and we were not just alright with it, but we embraced it? Sometimes I wish that we could have the kind of light-hearted joy we felt when we pretended to be a bandicoot travelling through time and it made sense to us for some reason.
Flashback Attack is a weekly column that goes up every Friday. In this column, Matt Overstreet takes a look at some older games and tries to figure out if they've stood the test of time. Do you have a game you'd like to recommend? Leave a suggestion in the comments or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.