Graphics: Croc 2 isn’t going to win any awards for its graphics, but they do a wonderful job of representing a cartoonish world in which to play. The visual scheme is bright and colorful, levels are beautiful, ranging from dark caves filled with lava to outdoors scenes featuring lush greenery. All characters, including Croc, the Gobbos, and the Dantinis look absolutely wonderful, and are just about the cutest things I’ve seen in a video game. Argonaut has done an admirable job of designing an entire world and bringing it to life in vivid clarity.
Interface: Getting through the menus and into the game itself is easy enough, but once you get into the actual play area, things go sharply downhill. While the buttons used to interact with the environment are simple to master, controlling Croc is going to be your worst nightmare. When you’re not swooning from the nausea induced by the constantly changing camera angles, you’ll find your mild amusement turning into full fledged anger when you can’t get Croc to move where you want him to. One of my friends took the liberty of shouting, “You can’t move the [darn] crocodile in a straight line, and that’s really, really frustrating!”
Unfortunately that statement is dead on the mark, and I couldn’t have put it better myself. For a title that relies heavily on split-second timing and precision jumps, it’s amazing how hard it is to manipulate the main character, as he’s always veering off in one direction or another when you least want him to. Even controlling vehicles and swinging from vines is made a terrifying experience because of this, making it a real headache to make any progress whatsoever.
Gameplay: There’s lots to see and do, whether it involves bounding from platform to platform or making use of the various vehicles, but the awful control scheme ruins most of the fun. Croc 2 offers an amazingly large world in which to play, complete with some excellent and challenging levels, so it’s a shame that almost all enjoyment that could be had from it is wasted. The developers have implemented a solid selection of concepts into the mix that should have made this a top-notch game; unfortunately, it falls somewhat short of the mark for lacking in sheer playability, which is the foundation on which all good platformers are based.
Sound FX: Phew, it’s nice to look once again at the brighter sides of this one. The sound effects are all great, and from the first time Croc shouts out “Kersplat!” you’re liable to be hooked. Most are standard cartoon fare, ranging from sizzles, pops, and squeaks to stranger noises, but they’re all crisp, clean, and used in just the right measure to add to the game. Even more amusing are the character voices, which aren’t actual speech but rather silly sequences of sounds, and resemble nothing so much as the style used in Nintendo’s Banjo-Kazooie.
Musical Score: All of the tunes are “happy” and help promote the cartoonish look and feel, although they’re hardly anything you’ll remember once the PSX gets turned off. Catchy little ditties accompany players on their adventure, all of which are enjoyable to hear and add to the experience. They’re cute, but not overly so, which is a very good thing.
Intelligence & Difficulty: It’s a bit difficult to rate this category, as Croc 2 is extremely hard to say the least, but not entirely by the developer’s design. The terrible play control is extremely detrimental to gameplay, and taking into account the difficulty of making even the most simplistic jump because of this, I am at a loss to see how younger players (the core audience) could possibly handle this one. Obstacles to progress arise not so much from the enemies, who mostly follow set patterns (although they’ll show some intelligence in chasing Croc), but rather from the difficulty of controlling Croc himself. It’s HARD to say the least.
Overall: To get to the point, Croc 2 aims high but falls short of the mark, not so much due to flaws in concept as a lack of playability and fun. Once in a while, it’s nice to be challenged by a game, but there is a fine line between projecting upon players a sense of accomplishment as opposed to one of annoyance. It is a real shame to have to assign this sort of mark to a title that offers so much potential, but I can’t help but feel that had a little more time been spent on perfecting the controls (especially knowing how they didn’t work well in the original Croc), things would have turned out much better. They say the third time’s a charm, and I certainly hopes this proves true for the Croc series, as I’d hate to see this cutesy little crocodile go out like this.