If you're not familiar with Croc, just picture the alligator from Chilly Willy in his own series. In Croc's world, there are two kinds of folks: the gentle Gobbos and their friends, and the dastardly Dantinis, led by the malicious Baron Dante. Cross a turtle with a teddy bear, and you have a Gobbo. As for a Dantini, they come in all shapes and sizes. Whereas the PlayStation Croc games are 3D adventures, this Game Boy Color release is a straightforward 2D platformer.
Croc's quest will take you through 30 levels within four main areas: jungle, desert, ice, and castle. En route to the Baron's castle, you'll have to leap across narrow chasms, pilot careening railcars, traverse undersea waterways, and avoid dangerous pits, all while rescuing your Gobbo friends. The game also features a variety of minigame bonus levels and uses password saves to track your progress.
As far as gameplay, Croc is standard platform fare. In your quest to free the Gobbos and defeat Dante, you'll progress through a variety of hazard-filled environments. Each environment requires leaping across pits, climbing trees, exploring dark caverns, and searching everywhere for keys, life crystals, bonus indicators, and extra lives. Watch out though, Dantinis are everywhere and will attack without warning. To progress in your journeys, you can run, jump, climb, pounce, and even whip Croc's reptilian tail. From a strict gameplay standpoint, Croc's quest is fun, and the levels contain plenty of shortcuts and hidden areas. Furthermore, the integration of minigame bonus levels, such as slide puzzles and basket-catcher games, adds an additional degree of value to an already feature-packed game.
Unfortunately, one aspect of Croc's gameplay is so heinous that it warrants its own paragraph: the control. If you're climbing, piloting a vehicle, or otherwise interacting with an object, the game's control is fine. However, ninety percent of the time, the game's mechanics just fly in the face of ergonomic sense. If you push forward, Croc steps forward one full character length. If you push backward, he turns around and steps backward one full space. Not only that, but sometimes he'll also continue moving after you've released the directional pad. All told, this makes for some interestingly negative situations, especially around small platforms and cliffs. Quality platformers, such as Mario DX, have pixel-level movement, so that you can control your character with a little precision. Croc's movement prevents you from moving with any precision.
Unlike the control, Croc's visuals are solid. The game's colorful backgrounds really bring across the feeling of jungle, cave, desert, and ice environments. When it comes to character sprites, Croc moves and animates fluidly. Enemy characters aren't as detailed or fluid, but this can be forgiven, as they stand out from the background clearly. Boss characters are colorful and amusing, but induce flicker on occasion. The game's Mario-style world map is also a nice touch. Compared with the visual experience, Croc's sound is average. Each area has a unique background track, but none are overly catchy or enjoyable. Sound effects, while sufficient, barely do the job. There's a jumping sound, a couple of collision sounds, and a few projectile snippets, but nothing that cries, "Listen to this game."
It's evident that the developers set out to deliver a solid title within the framework of existing standards. That in itself isn't a crime. Croc's characters are endearing, the level design is good, and the quest is both long and enjoyable. Unfortunately, the horrible control destroys the game's playability, making Croc for the Game Boy Color a different type of crock entirely.