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Playstation Could Have Found No Fitter Critter

Crash gives a good name to bandicoots everywhere. And the game's not bad either.


I admit having had to look up what sort of an animal a bandicoot really is. Turns out, it's like a giant rat that's native to India and Australia and is known for its fondness for destroying fields and gardens. Even though real bandicoots sound like pesky little vermin, the furry star of Crash Bandicoot for Sony PlayStation is as great a video game hero as any I've seen.

So great, in fact, that there's talk of making Crash the unofficial mascot for PlayStation. The folks at Sony could do a lot worse. Created by Naughty Dog Entertainment over in Universal City, Crash Bandicoot as a character has all the charm of Sonic or Mario. As a game he knocks them flat.

Keep in mind that this review was written before the release of Mario 64, but unless the dumpy little plumber offers a lot more than what I played at the electronics expo in May, Crash Bandicoot is, heading into the Christmas season, the platform game to beat.

That's because it's so weird. Crash can move in all directions within the playing field--left and right, of course, but also forward and backward on different planes. And he does it all in environments that look like they're straight out of a cartoon.

After just a few minutes of play, I found myself laughing so loud that my wife shut the door of the game room so I didn't drown out her phone conversation. It's hard not to laugh both at Crash and at the sheer fun of his game. Action varies almost as often as the perspective.

The dope on Crash is that he's the product of a mad scientist trying to produce an army of animal slaves. Crash was a reject and banished from the island of Dr. Neo Cortex--but not before a cute she-bandicoot caught his eye. That's right, a video game that is as much about true love as it is about running around in a witch doctor mask and dodging flesh-eating plants.

After several hours of play, I could find no fault with Crash Bandicoot except the relative scarcity of save points. In a game this pretty and this fun, repeating levels is hardly a chore, but crummy players like me appreciate more frequent opportunities to record progress.

Perhaps Crash will give a better name to all bandicoots.


Namco Museum Volume 1: The name says everything most people need to know. Namco Museum Volume 1 is the first of five discs for PlayStation that dredges up games from the early 1980s and passes them off as classics. It's all part of the recent craze of slapping old junk on a new disc and putting it on the shelf. Namco takes it to new levels, though, with a tiresome five-volume set.

When I was a kid, I would have sold my kid brother to the circus to get my very own Galaga arcade machine. So if for no other reason than that it includes Galaga, I'm glad I bought the first Namco Museum disc. But the rest of the disc harbors a bunch of games I didn't really like as a kid and still don't.

Particularly when played after a game like Crash Bandicoot, a dusty title like New Rally X just looks silly on PlayStation. Older players might dig the trip down memory lane, but players for whom these oldies have no sentimental value are better off buying newer titles.

Message to game makers: Give us something new.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to

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