Radical gives the bandicoot a fresh new look for Wii gamers.
by Craig Harris
April 19, 2007 - Crash Bandicoot may have started his career as an unofficial mascot for the original PlayStation, but he's too big for just one system. The wacky furry critter's made the leap across all the platforms in the past few years, as a platform hero, a go-kart racer...even most recently as a party game host on the Nintendo DS. Sierra's ready to give the ten year old marsupial a fresh beginning with an upcoming adventure: Crash of the Titans, a different style of game that incorporates both old and new Crash Bandicoot games for this Wii-centric experience.
Developed by Radical Entertainment, this action-focused adventure not only gives Crash a whole new look, but changes the core mechanic of the gameplay style that most Crash Bandicoot fans are familiar with. Sierra recently let us have a look at an early version of Crash of the Titans in action on the Wii so we could see some of the ideas in motion on the Nintendo console.
The big change in the Crash Bandicoot design is the shift in game mechanics. Where Crash used to be a platform hero, in Crash of the Titans he's now taking a more "physical" role in this punch-and-kick focused brawler style of design. In Radical's take, Crash must work his way through the 3D environments, beating up on evil critters using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination. Punches and kicks will take down the smaller enemies, but the key design element in Crash is the ability to "jack" enemies and use their specific attributes to take down the bigger creatures. As the developer put it, there's a "food chain" device where Crash won't be able to take down the gigantic creatures -- instead, he can take down the smaller ones, jack them when they're stunned, then use that creature to knock out even bigger creatures so Crash can jack them...and so on.
The level progression focuses on the player's ability to "attack and jack" enemies -- some routes will be locked by giant gates that can only be knocked down by the big beasts, and some routes will be blocked off by doors that need to be opened by triggering targets with enemies who can shoot. There will be fifteen different creatures to fight and jack, and players will earn the ability to play as these creatures once they're unlocked -- Crash will wear a "suit" of that creature to take advantage of their capabilities.
Brawling and platforming, all in one.
Even though the designers are straying from the platforming design in favor of the brawler element, there will still be a fair bit of running and jumping between the battles. There are a few levels that retain the classic Crash Bandicoot feel where players will leap up on boxes and time jumps to make it across large chasms.
A lot of the Wii-centric motion mechanics were being fine tuned in this pre-Alpha build, but in the game you'll be able to perform special attacks and throws using the motion sensing capabilities. The Wii Remote is also being used for targetting attacks, where players will point at the screen to lock onto specific enemies and objects. The pointing will also be used to snag pick up icons along the way, in a similar fashion to the way it's done in Super Mario Galaxy -- simply wave the reticule over close-by items to pick them up. Of course, you can just walk over them as well. And during the platforming, waving the Wii Remote in a circle while jumping will send Crash into a helicopter spin for distance gliding.
Crash of the Titans will support the Wii's widescreen and 480p capabilities. In this early build the visuals were still being tweaked, and while in pre-alpha form the framerate was pretty shaky it's clear that this is an area that Radical is focusing much of their attention on in the game's development. The developer gave us a side-by-side view of the Wii game running along side of the PS2 version being developed on the side, and the Wii version definitely had the upper hand. Crash of the Titans will also feature a co-op mode where a second player can leap in and assist the first at any time during the action, using his or her own Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
Watch for an October release for Crash of the Titans. We'll definitely have more on the game as it progresses into development, but in the meantime click on the media links below for the first screens and character artwork.