Considering the array of specialist creatures Crash Bandicoot is going to be able to morph (or 'Jack') into during his forthcoming Crash of the Titans game – get ready for Scorporilla, Ratcicle, Magamadon and Shellephant – it seems entirely appropriate that when we sent some questions to the good folks at Radical Entertainment, we received an array of specialist answers from half a dozen of the individuals involved with making the game.
Pocket Gamer: With a series like Crash, how do you keep the experience fresh?
Chris Mitchell (writer/designer): Luckily for us, Crash has a huge library of fun characters to draw on, which means that almost any gameplay experimentation can be applied in a logical way. After all, Crash lives in a fairly insane techno-magical world so even a nuclear-powered robot octopus wouldn't really be out of place. As Crash's world can accommodate any gameplay idea (provided it's fun), we use a large number of small teams that quickly experiment and try out gameplay ideas. The good ones, like Jacking, get added to the world and incorporated into the Crash storyline.
What do you think is the unique selling point of Crash of the Titans compared to previous Crash games?
Kirsten Forbes (senior producer): Our 'x factor' for this game is Multiple… Playable… Weapons. Rather than literally put a weapon in Crash's hands, we provide him multiple enemies he could play as. Each one of those enemies has powers and abilities the player has to use strategically to win the game.
Along with this hook, we gave Crash himself a whole slew of new abilities. He can run on walls, swing on ropes, surf on Aku-Aku's face and generally blast around. And he can fight solo, with punches, flying kicks, head-butts and combos. In short, we've given Crash power and control he didn't have before.
With regard to the 'Hyper-Dynamic Combat', do you think this will change people's view of Crash? It seems more like a beat-'em-up style…
Bob Churchill (designer): Yeah, I hope so. With Crash of the Titans we're looking to charm the core fans by injecting Crash's style and humour into the combat. And by giving Crash a full range of combat moves, we're hoping to broaden Crash's appeal to attract more hardcore gamers.
Jacking adds even more depth to the combat, as each enemy has nuances that the more experienced players will be able to take advantage of. Crash may still be wearing his trademark cheery grin and sneakers (which have got to be super-smelly by now), but he's got some new moves and we're hoping to surprise a few gamers.
The Jack-to-Attack option seems great. How did you come up with characters such as Scorporilla, Ratcicle, Parafox and Shellephant?
Brandon Reimchen (concept artist): When we took our first set of enemies on a tour of focus testers, we got the feedback that they simply weren't fierce enough. So we literally went back to the drawing board and approached each of the enemy designs from a few different angles.
First of all, we wanted to create characters that were fun and fresh but also empowering to control, so we incorporated a few different iconic creatures together into one super-mutant-animal – like combining a scorpion and a gorilla to make Scorporilla. From there, we looked at giving each character a cool ability, like in the case of Ratcicle, being able to freeze enemies with his ice claws. And finally, their colour was selected to provide a nice compliment/contrast to both Crash and their individual environments.
On a smaller scale, the fodder enemies were meant to have personality and provide comic relief for the player. This meant I was able to have fun developing silly little animals you could laugh at and then punt across the screen.
How do the various handheld versions of the game differ?
Joe Selinske (handheld producer): The DS and GBA platforms mirror the flavour and story of the console games but with a twist. We kept the spirit and fun of the story and adapted it to work for the handheld platforms.
We played to the strengths of each platform, such as making extensive use of the touchpad for the DS when you jack onto enemy characters in the game. Each one uses its own unique flair for their attacks. Use the microphone to blow fire or shoot water out at enemies; flick projectiles out to stun and damage enemies; and roll or ride on the backs of enemies as you race to the end of a level.
The GBA version captures the fun and frenetic fighting that you expect from the Crash franchise. A slight variation in how jacking works for this version is that Aku-Aku melds you both into the creatures you jack so you take on the characteristics of those creatures.
The PSP version captures the flavour and essence of the PlayStation 2 version and adds something else as you can compete and fight in arenas with up to four other players in multiplayer action.
What most impresses you about Crash of the Titans?
Hamish Millar (quality assurance lead): The fact you have this amazing new power that allows you to control your enemies impresses me most. What could be more fun than gallivanting around on giant, powerful mutants? Controlling living, breathing enemies feels so much more innovative than the weapons and vehicles that are appearing in many other games right now. It's so simple but so fun, which makes it pure genius.
Our thanks to all concerned. Crash of the Titans is due to be released on PSP, DS and GBA in October.