Of all the platforms, the Game Boy Advance wouldn't seem to be a good candidate for a Crash Bandicoot game, considering the system's lack of high-polygon processing capabilities. But the development team at Vicarious Visions--which is also responsible for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and 3 on the Game Boy Advance--has been able to capture the basic gameplay elements and general look of Crash Bandicoot's console counterparts and transfer them to a handheld system, resulting in a relatively basic but solid platformer with only a few lingering issues.
As Crash Bandicoot, you'll once again have to thwart the plans of Dr. Neo Cortex, who has used a weapon to shrink Earth. To reverse the effects, Crash's sidekick, Coco, needs large purple crystals that are located throughout most of the levels in the game. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure isn't linear in the typical sense--at the beginning of the game, you'll have the option to select from one of five different levels, so you don't really have to play them in any particular order. When you've completed those first five levels, you'll encounter the first boss. Once its been dealt with, you'll be transported to a new set of five levels. This process repeats a few more times until you reach the final confrontation.
The gameplay in Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure is split into traditional side-scrolling sequences, chase sequences, and third-person shooting sequences. In the side-scrolling portions of the game, you can perform all of Crash's attacks, including his spin and the ever-so-useful butt-stomp. When the situation calls for it, Crash can also hang from and climb across objects located on the ceiling in particular levels. When you beat a section boss, you'll gain access to a new ability such as the belly flop (which enables you to break crates with metal lining) and the annoying double-jump. The game will continually test your ability to use these new skills as you get into the later levels.
Occasionally, when you're playing through a side-scrolling level, you'll encounter a chase sequence where Crash runs from some beast that's pursuing him. Like in the chase sequences in the PlayStation games, you have to avoid obstacles and enemies as Crash charges toward the screen. Surprisingly, these sequences are very well done--the objects that come toward Crash are crisp and clear, making it easy to distinguish which objects will hinder you and which will help. The only possible problem with the chase sequences is the jumping, since it's difficult to tell where Crash is landing, but this doesn't really hinder one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game.
The third-person shooter sequences, in which the camera takes a position behind a jetpack-equipped Crash, are executed quite well, though it can be a little difficult to take proper aim at some of the enemies and objects, such as parachuting bombs, until they're incredibly close to Crash. You can somewhat solve the problem by holding down the button to shoot, but you run the risk of shooting down crates with apples or extra lives.
Control in these three different gameplay sequences is generally good. Crash is responsive to all of his basic movements and attacks, and during the third-person portions of the game, weaving Crash in between enemy projectiles and obstacles is an easy task. However, the control starts to degrade somewhat as you get some of Crash's new abilities--specifically the double-jump. As with most double-jumps, when you jump into the air, you're supposed to hit the jump button again to execute the second midair jump, but in this game, Crash isn't always responsive to that second press of the jump button. It will take a little while before you start to get the timing down to where you can execute double-jumps with ease, so expect to lose plenty of lives in the first few stages that emphasize double-jumping.
Some may be willing to overlook such problems, considering how technically impressive the game is. The Crash sprite animates very well and looks like a respectable copy of his polygonal self, and most of the enemies look good, if not a little bland in terms of colors. In addition, the actual side-scrolling levels look good, with a few different themes including ice, jungle, industrial, water, and space, but there isn't that much variation visually, so levels start to look a little less interesting as you progress through the game. Of course, the real star of the show is the chase sequences--if you didn't know any better, you would easily think these portions of the game were ripped right out of one of the PlayStation games and transferred completely over to the Game Boy Advance.
The sound is equally impressive. All of Crash's sounds from the PlayStation game--such as his gulps and spinning noises--have been faithfully reproduced on the Game Boy Advance hardware. Claritywise, the music in the game is a little better than in most other Game Boy Advance games, but there aren't any music tracks that particularly stand out, with the exception of perhaps the music that plays during the ice stages.
Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure is a worthy addition to the series. For the most part, the controls are solid, and the graphics--while lacking a little variety--are done very well on the Game Boy Advance hardware. But ultimately, The Huge Adventure is a fairly basic platformer that doesn't really have some of the innovation of other Game Boy Advance platformers. Still, if you're willing to give Crash a try, its 20 levels as well as its time attack and gem-collecting modes should give you a solid gaming experience.