D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 1

Greetings gamers, Daniel here with the first of many articles I will be writing where I basically take a fond look back at the games I’ve played in the past before our fearless leader Stephen very kindly invited me to join this lovely site (and I didn’t even have to beg him very much to let me join). I will be going back all the way to the tender young age of 10 (somewhere around there) up to today, almost a quarter of a century later. While I have played games since even earlier than the age of 10, I will be sticking to most of the games I’ve played starting with the very first PlayStation all the way up to the PlayStation 4. Yes, I’m a big fan of Sony’s incredible collection of video game machines. I did have a Sega Genesis once upon a time and enjoyed titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Earthworm Jim, but my memory of those days is sadly kind of hazy.

What I do remember very clearly even to this day is my very first introduction to the original PlayStation. I had just finished playing some Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (great game even today) and as I turned off my Sega Genesis, I thought to myself, “Man, there will seriously never be a video game system better than my Sega, and my Sonic game is unmatched.” Minutes later, my older brother said he had something really cool to show me, so we went to his room where he turned on his television and turned off the lights. He put a disc into this strange looking machine that I had never seen before, then the incredible 3D images of games like Jumping Flash and Wipeout exploded onto the television screen. I was immediately blown away. The graphics on these games made everything I had seen on the Sega Genesis look like something a 3-year-old drew on construction paper.

My brother showed me a number of games on the demo disc he had for his new system and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the timing of this momentous occasion. What were the odds I’d be introduced to this amazing new video game system right after contemplating on how the Sega Genesis would likely go unopposed as the best video game system for years to come? Everything sort of just fell into place after that, even though I didn’t get my own PlayStation until about a year or so later.

Now, as I mentioned before, I will not be discussing every single game I’ve played since I started on this wonderful journey with PlayStation, but suffice it to say that I did play and try out a number of games like Tomb Raider, Fighting Force, Tekken, Independence Day, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and so on (obviously some of those games were good while others were…not so much). The purpose of this saga of articles is to discuss my thoughts on my most memorable games and series, most of which I still own even today, and share the scores I would give each game according to Gaming Respawn’s scoring system.

So let’s kick things off appropriately by discussing the series of games starring PlayStation’s original mascot (drum roll)…….Crash Bandicoot. I no longer own this series of games as I had finally outgrown it, but it was my very first and definitely one of the longest series of games I have played. I played every major release of the series going from the PS1 to the PS2, but this does not include the handful of games released for handheld systems. The Crash Bandicoot series played a very big role in making me the gamer that I am today, and for that I am forever grateful to Naughty Dog.

 

Crash Bandicoot (PS1)

The very first Crash Bandicoot was a fun yet simplistic game. Crash needs to make his way past three islands full of mutant animal enemies so he can save his girlfriend Tawna from the evil Dr. Neo Cortex. Basically the same type of stuff Mario does in all his games, save the damsel in distress. The gameplay was also simplistic and consisted of Crash running and jumping over pits, traps, and other obstacles, while also dealing with enemies by jumping on them or hitting them with his trademark spin attack. Some extra fun levels where he would run from rolling boulders Indiana Jones-style and ride on a runaway warthog added some variety, but the boss fights were probably my favorite part of the game. I have very fond memories of jumping on Papu Papu’s big fat head, blowing up Ripper Roo with dynamite, and deflecting Cortex’s laser gun blasts back at him.

This game was actually somewhat unique when compared to all its following sequels. What makes it so different? The game was hard as all hell. The sequels were challenging, make no mistake, but the first Crash Bandicoot demanded absolute perfection and dedication from those desperate enough to collect every gem in the game. I tried this myself, but in the end I resorted to using cheat codes to acquire all the gems so I could see the game’s “true” ending; it was basically the same as the regular ending, but with some extra text added on describing what Crash does with his life after floating off into the sunset with his rescued girlfriend on Cortex’s blimp.

Collecting all the gems required breaking every crate in every level, which quite honestly was not worth the effort since a bunch of these crates were floating over bottomless pits or were only accessible by backtracking, which in turn required making Crash run towards the screen (you could mostly only go backwards and forwards in this game). Fortunately, playing the game through to the end without collecting every gem was plenty fun on its own. The original Crash Bandicoot may not have been perfect, but it ended up setting some really high standards and it was an historical game in many ways. My score for Crash Bandicoot would be 75%.

 

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)

This game was a vast improvement over the first one. The controls were tighter, graphics looked sharper, the music was more catchy and memorable, and the variety in gameplay was superior. Even the story was more interesting, though that was never the main focus with Crash Bandicoot games. Dr. Cortex forms an alliance with Crash in an attempt to gather up some powerful crystals which are needed to prevent a global catastrophe (at least, that’s the story Cortex fed to Crash). The most notable improvement with the story was how there was more dialogue that actually advanced the story, namely with Crash interacting with Cortex and his sister Coco between levels which made me care more about completing the game.

The usual platforming elements and dealing with funny looking animal enemies was still there, but now Crash was going through specialized levels riding a motor-powered surfboard, flying on a jet-pack, and even riding on a baby polar bear…while being chased by another giant polar bear. Even the boss fights in this sequel were a lot more fun: dealing with Ripper Roo again, as well as new baddies like Tiny Tiger and Dr. N. Gin was a real blast.

Another huge improvement was the game’s save system. The first Crash Bandicoot would only let you save by completing bonus rounds in each level, which in turn could only be accessed by finding three special icons hidden in crates. Fortunately, this game and all others afterwards let you save anytime you wanted between levels in the main hub. And when it came to collecting all the gems, it was actually possible to achieve. It wasn’t easy by any means, but it was doable and collecting everything was just plain fun and satisfying. This was one hell of a fun game, especially back in the day. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back gets a score of 90%.

 

Crash 3

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1)

And now we come to Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, which is pretty much the BEST game in the entire Crash Bandicoot series and the last of the traditional adventure games of the series developed by Naughty Dog. Crash 3 is basically the same as Crash 2, only it’s somehow even more fun and entertaining. Aside from the usual platforming, jumping on and spin attacking enemies, and collecting crystals and gems, more awesome stuff was added to make this game one for the history books.

For one thing, the story was more interesting than ever. It turns out Dr. Cortex wasn’t really running the show the last two times he tried to take over the world, but he was actually following orders from the malevolent witch doctor spirit Uka Uka, the evil twin of Aku Aku, the good witch doctor spirit who had been offering his protection and assistance to Crash since the first game. Cortex’s defeat by Crash in the previous game inadvertently lead to Uka Uka being freed from his ancient prison, so the evil spirit and Cortex round up their most loyal minions and begin their scheme of world domination by using a time machine to take control of the prehistoric era, ancient Egypt, the medieval era, and the like. And of course it’s up to Crash and Coco to use the time machine to stop them.

Crash’s sister Coco was added as a playable character and her levels all revolved around her riding on a baby tiger, a jet-ski, a bi-plane, and even a spaceship through obstacle filled levels, as well as another incredibly fun boss battle against Dr. N. Gin (speaking of, all the boss battles in this game were pretty much legendary). All the classic platforming levels were left to good ole’ Crash himself, which were filled with more interesting obstacles and enemies to bypass. Extra power-ups and abilities he gets after defeating bosses like a continuous spin attack and a fruit bazooka made his gameplay more fun than ever.

Crash also had his own specialized levels where he can ride a baby t-rex, a motorcycle, and a bi-plane of his own. The addition of time trials where you run through levels as quickly as possible to earn new relic collectibles gave the game some extra oomph. And if you wanted that coveted 100% completion status, you had to collect all these relics in addition to the crystals and gems.

All this extra stuff made Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped one of the best games I’ve ever played, and it had the perfect balance of challenge and fun. Even though I no longer own the Crash Bandicoot games, I may decide to buy this game again on the PSN someday…it’s seriously that fun. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped gets a 95%.

Tune in next week for Part 2 of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will continue to discuss my opinion on the rest of the Crash Bandicoot series. While you all eagerly wait on Part 2, there’s plenty of other reading material here in Gaming Respawn to hold you over:

Want to see Jorge shake his money-maker? Neither do I. Instead, check out his review of Super Mario Maker here.

Kane, our self-appointed video game character profiler, once again puts his analytical skills to good use and shares his most recent character bio here.

Sean goes on one of his legendary rants and tears the video gaming business a brand new one in his latest “5 Points of Gaming”. Behold!

 

 

 

 

 

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