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July 19, 2013

Crash and Spyro Superpack

What happens when you try to make a crossover game? If your plan is to have characters from multiple franchises appear in the game, it could become a complete mess. But the team behind the Super Smash Bros. series seem to be doing pretty good. However, there are other crossovers out there that might have been better if they hadn't been.
That's the case for Crash And Spyro Superpack.
This GBA game came out in 2005, and is a compilation of two games: Crash Purple: Ripto's Revenge, and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy. Those are two games that also came out on the GBA. Heh, both were so short that you can put them on the same GBA cartridge, that says a lot.

At the beginning of each game, we are introduced to a strange evil team as Ripto, a villain from the Spyro franchise, decides to team up with Cortex, better known as the main antagonist in many Crash Bandicoot games. Both decide that the Riptocs, those dragon-like beasts obeying to Ripto, will be upgraded under Cortex's machines. Oh yeah, because no evil team-up went wrong in the past.

The story is basically the same on both games. A horrible thing happens in either character's world, and that character has to venture through a first level reminiscent of its own series (jungle for Crash, castle for Spyro). At the end of that level, however, the character you chose has to defeat the main character of the OTHER game, thinking this character is the threat. I dunno for you, but that reminds me of Sonic Adventure 2 so far...

After this defeat, both become friends - Hello little cliché - and decide to team up as well to fight against the evil team.

While both games are platformers, they also included a little "fun" thing: Minigames! Who doesn't like minigames? Actually, both in Spyro Orange and Crash Purple, you have to complete minigames in order to unlock the portal leading to the boss of each section. Afterwards, you can access the second platformer level. Once again, you must complete minigames to gain access to the portal leading to the boss, and after beating the boss you must go to the next level. Lather, rinse, repeat. And if you think the minigames share similarities from world to world... you're right. Some minigames - or rather, formulas - are copied from a world to the other, such as Spyro having to spin a lever to open a door, or Crash going at sea on an air tub to collect Wumpa Fruits and reach the end of the level without hitting too many spiked balls. Each minigame has different controls, and those are always explained before the minigame. Isn't it kind of sad that they're all 1-player minigames? All the minigames found in the game can then be played in a Party Mode. Again, that's a pretty lonely party. Even better, each minigame has three difficulty levels - yes, even the ones that are already hard on Easy - so you can curse all you want for days if you want to get absolutely everything in the game. You get additional rewards if you manage to complete minigames on all three difficulties.

After the first level, both heroes meet up in an arctic environment and have to venture through this harsh cold world. Some sections of the level contain axes swinging back and forth, that need to be avoided. At the end of Arctic Cliffs, Spyro has to defeat Crush and Gulp, Ripto's henchdragons. The two are pretty darn strong, with Gulp shooting from above with Crush trying to ram into Spyro. Luckily, Spyro turns that tactic against them both by using Gulp's blasts against Crush and Crush's shield against Gulp. Which is... a pretty smart boss battle, actually. As for Crash, when he reaches the end of Arctic Cliffs, he meets Tiny, another bandicoot in a tank and in a bad mood, and Crash has to defeat that mad animal's firepower with.... even more firepower, I guess. By the way, Tiny is NOT tiny. However, Crash succeeds in defeating the villain. As a result, Cortex and Ripto start bickering, until Cortex decides to send a bizarre character named Nina after our heroes.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention: How can they make this game even less Platformer-y? By adding a collectible card system, of course! I know I sound like a snarky, cruel guy, but that's really what's in the game. It adds a decent challenge, as many of those cards are hidden in the wild and must be found by either hero. There is also a bear fellow named Moneybags who will invite Spyro or Crash inside his tent so that he can sell them the precious cards or force them to win it in a luck game. Those cards can also be obtained by winning minigames in the levels, something that is already required anyway to beat the game. Therefore, it's impossible to avoid every card out there, as you automatically get one after many minigames. It gets worse: Each game has its own set of collectible cards, and to have them all you must collect the cards of both games in each game in order to achieve 100% completion. How the Hell can you trade between games? The DS generation might not know that, but there was a time when you had to have two Game Boys of the same generation as well as a cord to plug on both in order to exchange between two games. That's how Pokémon became the number 1 reason why so many people had two Game Boys or more. Anyway, Crash Purple and Spyro Orange work with this cord, and you need two Game Boy Advances to trade cards with the other game. However, unlike Pokémon, which is widespread enough that almost every Nintendo gamer out there has one or more games and will be able to trade, not everyone will have either Crash Purple or Spyro Orange. And in fact, if you ask someone, he/she had 50% chance of saying he/she had the same version. Guess that's why they've put the two games together; that way, you can meet people with the same Superpack and trade cards with both games. Isn't that great? ...Not really, actually. Also, if you have many trading cards, you unlock more bonus minigames. Hurray!

The two protagonists then reach a place called Fire Mountains. Just in case it wasn't obvious, that's a pretty hot place. The minigames are getting more difficult now, and the level contains more damn traps. However, our heroes progress through this heat and reach the end of this zone. Wait, what's this? Oh no! Nina Cortex (yep, Cortex somehow has relatives rooting for him) has captured The Professor from Spyro's world and Coco from Crash's world! In order to save both, Spyro must wait for Nina to mindlessly ram into the cages containing the two characters in distress, which will set them free. Afterwards, Spyro has to set a furnace on fire in order to leave the place. As for Crash, he must run away from Nina and force her to hit the cages as well, which is not THAT difficult.

On this, both characters enter the fourth world... Crash visits Dragon Castles. and Spyro strolls down Wumpa Jungle. Yeah, that's pretty much it. However, for added danger, both have to confront the other hero's villain. Spyro has to escape from Cortex's crazy machine while Crash has to take down Ripto, which makes for one of the most difficult boss battles in Crash Purple.

Wait, you thought that was all? After just four levels? It's way too short, let's add just another one! Who doesn't like technological worlds? I know it makes some pretty darn awesome levels to venture through. Thus, our friends end up in Tech Park, the last level, and they need again to complete minigames in order to gain access to the last boss. However, Spyro and Crash take on the challenge and beat the damned minigames, which lets them access to the last

Yes, bosses. Cortex created a machine of which he and his ally each control a side. It's some sort of robotic rocket, with arms and thrusters. The character of the version you're playing has to attack the thrusters first. After those are destroyed, our evil team decides to use a cannon on the robot to attack the hero; however, a few hits on that cannon and it is destroyed as well. As last resort, the villains use the robot's arms to attack the protagonists. However, once the arms are destroyed, so is the robot - talk about cheap - and Ripto and Cortex are BLASTING OFF AGAAAAAAAIIIIIIII-*twink*.

Long story short, after this epic victory, Crash invites Spyro to come by Wumpa Jungle once in a while, and Spyro offers Crash to visit Dragon Castle someday. Both agree to meet again, and the game ends.

Phew. That was a very long post. Anyway, what can I say about this game? It doesn't "suck" per se, but it does have moments where the story is not top-notch. You can feel that they tried really hard to make a crossover game. And for this, the team behind the story had to make sure Crash and Spyro's worlds had to blend together, with more or less cliché results, clichés we get in most stories where characters from two worlds have to team up against a common enemy. Sadly, the platforming aspect is set aside for the minigames, as those will probably take up much more of your play time. That's not to mention the card-collecting side-quest. In many games, having something to collect on the side can be a good idea, and while here it is, um... "okay", if I can put it this way, there's still the major annoyance to the fact that you need the two games and two GBAs in order to truly collect everything. And since this game is rarer and much less popular than Pokémon, obviously finding someone with the other game and ready to trade is much, much more difficult than it is with Pokémon. That idea could have been done better. However, if you enjoy a true challenge and decide that the Mario Party games are boring, then have a go at this game. It'll provide you with many hours of minigames to go through, which can be fun or painful.

Read ya soon!

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