Review: Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage (10 hours, Game Boy Advance)

This is the final platforming game in the Crash Bandicoot series for Game Boy Advance. It’s more of a mini-game collection than a true platformer. Vicarious Visions merged the Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot universes, and you are now seeking to take down Ripto, the Spyro villain, in addition to Cortex, the Crash villain. The two villains teamed up. The game gets a graphical overhaul, presumably with a new game engine, and everything runs a lot more smoothly. The game’s saving grace is that Vicarious Visions seems to have acknowledged that the previous two games were too hard, and dialed back the difficulty level. For this, I am grateful. The game is fun, start to finish, because it’s not as hard. Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced especially had some ridiculous expectations. Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage is a game anyone can play.

The biggest problem with N-Tranced was the need to destroy all of the boxes to finish the game. Some levels had more than 100 boxes, and you had to break each one to truly finish a level. All it takes is one missed box, and you’ll want to start the level over. Ripto’s Rampage, again, is mostly a mini-game collection. Because the game’s style is constantly changing, they give you easier levels as you acclimate to the controls, including fewer boxes. You could be collecting boxes while rafting on a water float, piloting a tank, or riding on top of a bear. There are twenty-five silver gems, and twenty-five purple ones. Once all are attained, you may fight the final boss.

Again, it looks like we’re on a new engine, and the game looks great! Crash is still a 3D model, but he takes up less screen real estate. There appear to be more 3D things like other characters and enemies, but overall, it is still (aside from Crash) a mostly 2D, sprite-based game. There’s a certain degree of artistic talent here, too. There’s a grassy castle area and a lava-filled volcano region. The overworld is a 2D map, but when you enter a world, it could be any number of styles of mini-games. There is often a bear in places across the overworld who will sell you cards, or make you play a game to attain them. There are a lot of cards, and they are fun to collect – I was three cards away from completion with a specific set – but collecting all cards isn’t necessary to finish the game.

The game takes a page from Wario Land 2 in that you don’t have lives exactly. You collect apples (as you do in Crash games), and to lose in a level is to lose apples, after which the game asks if you’d like to retry. The mini-games themselves are easy: rafting, tank-piloting, weigh-lighting, RC helicopter controlling, castle defending, and sheep herding, to name a few. Again, this is a game for everyone. Perhaps the biggest shortcoming is that you can’t control Spyro the Dragon. At the same time, I figure there are space limitations for a Game Boy Advance game, and that was probably part of it.

I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to play all the Crash Bandicoot games. Outside of the original PlayStation trilogy, there are four main series games. Of course, there were the kart-racing spinoffs, including two for GBA, and the beautiful remaster N. Sane Trilogy. I really didn’t expect to like Ripto’s Rampage so much, but it actually is pretty darn good. Kind of amazing what you find when you venture out of your comfort zone. Expect more of this in the future.

5/5

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