Crash Bandicoot is an interesting character and has many fans the world over thanks to his fun and unique platform games from the past. However recent times haven't been very kind to the franchise with the mixed Crash kart racing game and platform titles across a wide range of systems, considering in the franchises most popular time it was being heavily touted as Sony's mascot for the Playstation system, it's been quite a fall from grace. However he has returned and along with another Vivendi character, Spyro, he comes to the GBA in a game which is more like a party game rather than a platformer. So how does it compare to the Spyro game?
The storyline behind the game is quite basic and is really only there to give a meaning to the many different games you will find inside the world. Crash's main enemy Dr Neo Cortex and Ripto, who is Spyros main enemy, have teamed up to cause havoc in the worlds that Crash and Spyro reside. They have tried to trick the two characters by sending each others enemies into the other world. So in Crash's game you will find some of Spyros enemies and in Spyros game you will find some of Crash's enemies. So the game basically revolves around finding these two boss characters and taking them down to save the world yet again.
The gameplay is divided into two main sections; the platforming area of the game and the mini games. Each world has different mini games which must be completed to find the crystals required to get to the enemies main base and defeat the character. So the platforming element of the game consists of jumping around as per usual trying to find warp portals into the mini games and then successfully completing the mini games. This does become tedious after while especially when you're searching for the last portal before taking on the boss character and completing the world. The mini games are fairly unique most of the time but many are different takes on popular arcade games such as alleyway.
The mini games as they are unlocked can then be played individually from the main menu which is a fantastic touch and something we had hoped to see while progressing through the main game. The platforming element is not entirely pointless however because you have to collect wumpa fruit to pay the fee to tackle the mini games available. Mini games can range from driving a tank and destroying electric beams through to button mashing to lift a heavy weight in weightlifting style to impress Crash's brother. There is only one time that Crash and Spyro co-exist in these mini games and that's when they first meet under the impression they are enemies before realizing their mistake.
The game is not without its problems however with the main one being the mini games themselves. While each world for most of the game does feature unique mini games, often they are only small changes from other mini games or even the same mini game over again. The game is also very basic to play and can be completed rather quickly with the difficulty not really ramping up towards the end of the game. The main challenge of the game comes from finding the warp portals rather then tough enemies or impossible mini games. However the biggest problem we have with the game is the way the developers have artificially inflated the length. As you finish mini games you are given crystals, upon reaching the end of the game for the first time you are informed that all the games must be completed again to gather another type at which point many may turn the game off never to play it again.
The game is fairly short as mentioned and only contains four worlds with different mini games. The worlds include Spyro's castle, a jungle, an ice world and one other. In comparison to the Spyro game Crash doesn't seem to have had as much work done it in the environment. Not in terms of graphics but the overall design it appears that Spyro offers many more opportunities via his fire breathing abilities and double jump flying. Visually the game is quite good and definitely looks better than a Super Nintendo game with Crash looking 3D and some nice background sprites and animations of enemies to enhance the visuals. The soundtrack is comprised of catchy upbeat music which suits the style of the game quite well. The game does contain some cut scenes which are basically on screen pictures but no voice acting at all with text used for speech.
In terms of the multiplayer capabilities, Crash Fusion can link to Spyro Fusion but unlike the Pokemon games this does not offer much other than the ability to trade cards. This worked well with Pokemon because you could actually play with the new animals but with cards it seems almost pointless. However the multiplayer aspect is saved by the ability to play some of the mini games via a link cable with up to four players.
Crash Fusion is a great GBA game despite all its problems because of the fact that it is such a pick up and play game and can be switched off at any time. Rather than having to find a save point or complete a level to save the game, Crash will update the save every time after a mini game which makes it perfect for a quick game while on the go. If you're looking for a GBA game to play at home or for extended periods of time then Crash is not it. It's great for the traveling gamer and it suits this situation well.