Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

A few months ago, I decided to dig into my PS2 collection for a good game for Chris to move on to. He’d already played “SSX” and “Smuggler’s Run” to death, both of which had pretty simple control schemes (he could have a fun experience using just the joysticks, and was starting to pick up some of the more advanced moves, such as the tricks in “SSX”). Since he is 4 1/2, I was still looking for something that had pretty innocent themes, simple controls, and did not require a lot of reading.

“Crash Bandicoot” seemed like a good option. I must have picked it up at a big discount sometime just before I bought my Xbox 360, because I’d never played it (my PS2 started gathering dust at that point). So I popped it in to give it a spin to see if it would be appropriate (it’s rated “E” for everyone, with mild violence). It is basically a 3D platformer in the tradition of Mario Bros. To dispatch enemies, you either jump on, spin into, or slide into them (each requires a different strategy), at which point they disappear. There are peaches to collect, boxes to break, and bonus levels to complete. The levels are pretty varied, with different controls and enemy behaviors to learn. Each is deterministic, so he can learn how to defeat it by trying different things and practicing the controls.

It is now Chris’s favorite game, though he does ask to play the others from time to time. He’s gotten pretty good at the first hub, where he can complete each of the missions to collect the crystals granted at the end. I helped him get through the hub boss, so that he could start playing the second hub. I taught him how to load and save the game, but he messes it up at times and deletes all his progress. He gets pretty excited whenever he makes progress in the game, often asking me to come in to share in his achievement, watch him play, or help him figure out how to complete some area.

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