History repeats for platforming heroes. For the foreseeable future, Mario and Bowser will continue trading Princess Peach back and forth, and Sonic and Eggman will continue to squabble over chaos emeralds. It seemed that Crash Bandicoot and Dr. Neo Cortex would remain locked in a similar struggle, but now Traveller's Tales has forced these archenemies to work together in Crash Twinsanity. The game injects some good variety into the traditionally linear Crash Bandicoot gameplay, and it provides a few good chuckles along the way. It's a little rough around the edges, and it doesn't break new ground for 3D platformers, but it gives the series the shot in the arm that Wrath of Cortex failed to, and what it does, it does pretty well.
Crash and Cortex begrudgingly team up to fight the greater evil of mutant parakeets.
The game starts off as any Crash Bandicoot game ought to, with Dr. Neo Cortex hatching a plan to destroy Crash Bandicoot, though rather than wading through dozens of levels to thwart Cortex's diabolical machinations (which, in this particular case, involve a blonde wig and a massive mecha-bandicoot), Crash pretty much quashes the mad doctor's plans in the first level. A set of bird-headed twins from the 10th dimension quickly rushes in to fill the evil-scheme vacuum left by Cortex, announcing their plans to destroy Crash, steal Cortex's brain, and take over the chain of islands that they both inhabit. Crash and Cortex put their long-standing beef aside for the good of Nsanity Island, and as they work together to thwart the evil twins' plans, they'll meet many old rivals, make a field trip to Cortex's alma mater, hook up with Cortex's gothed-out, bucktoothed, cybernetic niece (or is it daughter?) Nina Cortex, and eventually travel to Twinsanity Island, a twisted doppelgÃ¤nger to Crash's home island.
The story feels a little ramshackle, and your motivation in a few of the middle levels isn't crystal clear, but the writers do manage to couch a few decent jokes in the game's mostly unskippable cutscenes. The game is pretty self-aware, and there are jokes about the disappointing sales of The Wrath of Cortex, as well as a cameo appearance that is kind of clever but also borders on product placement. The best comedy in Crash Twinsanity doesn't come from the dialogue, but from sight gags. There are plenty of Wile E. Coyote moments, where it takes characters a few beats to realize their predicament, but the game's funniest gag involves Crash being entranced by Cortex's backside--it's funny enough that the game makes a point to use it more than once.
All previous Crash Bandicoot games have followed a pretty rigid formula, with Crash running down a confined path, smashing crates full of delicious wumpa fruit, avoiding bottomless pits and crates full of explosives, and using his spin attack against enemies. Though there are plenty of stretches in Twinsanity that abide by these conventions, the game is far more expansive than previous Crash games. When he's flying solo, which makes up more of the game than you might anticipate, Crash fights a handful of enemies, but mostly he just tackles loads and loads of jumping puzzles. It's all pretty standard for most of the game--moving platforms, falling platforms, and bouncy platforms--though the game takes a challenging turn near the end, throwing in platforms with spinning laser barriers, platforms that move and disappear, and a long series of color-coded platforms that appear only for a short time and in a specific sequence. Though some of the endgame platform jumping can give you a good run for your money, these sections generally feel pretty by the book.
Twinsanity all but smashes the mold made by previous Crash Bandicoot games.
When he's teamed with Dr. Neo Cortex, Crash has an expanded set of moves, though anyone who has played Banjo-Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, or even Whiplash should already be pretty familiar with the buddy-style mechanics that are employed here. The pair can perform a standard Crash-style spin attack in tandem, Crash can swing Cortex like a big, brainy hammer (which is good for demolishing obstacles and enemies), and Crash can toss Cortex across large gaps, where Cortex can flip switches to lower bridges and dispatch enemies with his ray gun. These sections are actually a little dull, but there are several other ways in which these two team up that are more fun.
For example, there are Super Monkey Ball-inspired levels in which you have to control the pair as they brawl with each other--and get so entangled that they form a big, rowdy ball--rolling them down chutes and tunnels and avoiding explosive crates. There are downhill levels in which Crash uses Cortex as a makeshift snowboard, which is both viscerally and sadistically satisfying. Probably the cleverest pairing of the two is when Cortex finds himself running blindly from something terrifying, and, as Crash, you have to run down an alternate path, clearing any obstacles that might impede Cortex. This demands fast reflexes, as well as some quick puzzle-solving skills, and though these sequences already show up several times over the course of the game, we would've happily played more.