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Crash of the Titans

For: DS   Also on: GameBoy, Mobile, PSP

A real chimera

Product: Crash of the Titans | Developer: Radical Entertainment | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: US
Crash of the Titans DS, thumbnail 1
When Harryhausen's cult classic, Clash of the Titans, hit movie screens the early '80s, the mythical adventure swept movie-goers away with a visually impressive, action-packed experience. How did they get those snakes on Medusa to look so realistic? More importantly, who persuaded highbrow lovies Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith to get involved?

Anyway, the pun-tastic Crash of the Titans doesn't really have anything to do with the film. It's certainly not an awe-inspiring adventure, but by sticking closely to the gaming conventions that have come to define the Crash games, it does offer pretty graphics and plenty of action.

The visuals are entirely three-dimensional and boast an impressive amount of detail, particularly the environments. There are numerous slapstick sound effects, over-the-top voice acting, and a cheesy laugh track, which lends the game kiddy appeal. Younger players (and some who should otherwise know better) will no doubt also giggle at the sound of simulated bandicoot flatulence.

In terms of the real action, though, once again it stems from having to revisit the seemingly never-ending rivalry between Crash Bandicoot and the evil Dr Neo Cortex. The doctor's newest scheme has him tracking down powerful mojo-enhancing Tiki masks, hidden in the lush Wumpa Islands. With the aid of his henchmen, Cortex is transforming the native islanders and wildlife into mutants in an effort to speed his recovery of the masks. Naturally, as Crash, it's up to you to quash the quack's maniacal plan and save the day.

Defeating Neo Cortex and his minions involves the familiar mix of action, platforming, and item collection, spread across eight levels. Action is firmly at the forefront, though, with the game keeping the spotlight firmly on the combat. Beyond his core two attacks – basic and heavy – Crash possesses the ability to 'jack' enemies and control them. It's like GTA's car-jacking but involving living creatures instead. Essentially, once you've beaten an enemy down enough you get control of their abilities.

This is really the only innovative element in Crash of the Titans and hence a welcome component to what would otherwise be a formulaic platform game.

Adding further to the experience is the diversity of enemies that can be jacked. There are 15 in total and as hybrids – expect to get your hands on the likes of Scorporilla, Parafox and Shellephan – they enable a wide range of interesting abilities. For example, one lashes out at foes with its long tongue when you blow into the DS's microphone. Another has the ability to walk through lava, making it possible to reach inaccessible areas.

Most levels have sections requiring the use of jacked enemies, although this is implemented in such a way that makes it enjoyable and not unduly forced.

Without jacking, the combat would be far blander. You can see this in levels that require you to play as Neo Cortex's niece, Nina. Void of any substantial pacing, these contrived stages relying on tired platform mechanics have you zapping wildlife with a mutator gun to transform them into vile beasts. Thankfully, such segments are short.

Overall, the relatively small number of levels is also an issue, although optional objectives and mini-games help extend play. For instance, each stage has a mojo quota, which when met rewards you with a gem. Meanwhile, other secondary goals include breaking all the boxes and unearthing every bronze, silver, and gold Tiki mask hidden within a stage. These hardly seem thrilling tasks, yet you'll likely find yourself backtracking through previously-played levels in an attempt to pick up missed items.

Mini-games, which consist of a mojo-fueled pachinko machine and special events, round out the roster of complementary content. Pachinko sees you spending a bit of mojo for a chance at winning a jackpot.

It's not the most exciting experience, however, especially when compared to the optional event sequences tied to each level. For instance, one stage event involves grinding across a series of rails to collect mojo and Tiki masks. Others have you guiding Crash on a jacked enemy through levels, using the stylus to roll or steer, depending on the type of creature that's jacked.

These are also bite-sized, but in contrast to the Nina levels, we wished they were longer as they're easily some of the best bits of what Crash of the Titans has to offer. Why the main game isn't comprised of more stages tapping into this potential remains something of a mystery.

Looking past its adolescent charms and routine action-platform gameplay, then, it is possible to enjoy Crash of the Titans. The jacking is a neat and fun concept, but isn't enough to completely overcome the rather plain platforming. And the mini-games and other modes are patchy, too.

That said, we're sure Crash's loyal fanbase will ensure impressive sales but it's harder to see how the developer will evolve the series to ensure it appeals to a wider audience in the future without the level of innovation the concept needs.
Crash of the Titans
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 10 October 2007
A decent mix of action and platform gameplay, but despite an interesting new feature, Crash of the Titans simply doesn't do enough to stand out in a sea of Nintendo DS titles
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