Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge Review
Posted by Dave Frear
Crashing with the boys
After another success at the track-meet Crash and the Boys from Southside High are issued a street challenge by a jealous rival; now they and teams from four other schools compete in a series of no-holds barred sporting events to find who really is the greatest. Crash ‘n the Boys: Street Challenge differs from other sporting competitions, however, by adding some danger and violence to the events.
The game features a contest involving five different sporting activities. A normal playthrough is over quite quickly but if you are particularly short on time, or just don't like a couple of the events, you can select “Short” for a three-event competition. The controls vary greatly across the events and whilst they work they are not straightforward. The hammer throw is simple enough (bash B repeatedly to swing, press A to throw) but the others take some getting used to — luckily there is a practice mode that, in combination with the electronic manual, will train you up sufficiently for the challenge.
Rather than limit you to just Southside High, the game gives you a choice of four teams; each has five members with different abilities and you can pick which character to use before each event. There's also a fifth exclusively CPU-controlled team: Team Thorley. They are very much the team to beat, mainly because they are automatically advanced to the final in head-to-head events whereas everyone else has to compete in heats. You're allowed up to four human players to pick a team for the street challenge, but no more than two characters are on-screen at a time, so you only need two controllers.
As you are playing a variety of unremarkable sound effects accompany the actions of the on-screen athletes, whilst some excited music plays; it can beep a little and is not particularly memorable, but it fits well. Visually this has simple graphics in the same style as a number of NES games, including River City Ransom and Nintendo World Cup (in Japan the games are all part of the Kunio-kun series). The cartoony look works well with the over the top action, and whilst the backgrounds feature a number of repeated elements the urban setting manages to make it stand out from other sporting simulations.
In terms of event details, the first event is the 400 meter hurdles which initially appears to be a straight race to the end, but some hurdles are too high to jump so instead you can slide underneath them. Other times you just smash through and can even pick up the broken obstacle and take a swipe at your competition. Health bars are present and should a runner's be completely depleted before the end the other wins by default.
The hammer throw event actually combines object-lobbing with golf, as you must get to a hole in as few throws as possible; along the way there is rough grass and even water hazards to contend with. One amusing touch is should you mis-throw, your character is dragged up a short distance before dropping to the ground — the hammer clonks on your head moments later.
Things get more dangerous for the swimming, which is actually just an aquatic brawl; you leap or swim about the screen attacking each other, throwing punches and dragging each other underwater. Should a character's energy and oxygen metres hit zero their motionless body sinks to the bottom: yikes!
Trying to make proceedings a bit more extreme is roof top jumping, where players take turns to run across roofs, pole-vaulting over gaps or sometimes hopping on a unicycle to ride across a rope hung between buildings.
Good old-fashioned street fighting finishes the tournament. Considering the two previous events featured the prospect of drowning or become a splat on the pavement, a spot of fisticuffs seems a bit tame in comparison, though there are still plenty of painful-looking moments. You punch and kick at each other but mostly grapple with the ensuing button bashing ending with a throw, a piledriver or something more spectacular, like a super spin headbutt or fireball spike.
A number of medals are awarded after the events and the team with the most at the end is declared the winner. Before each contest, however, you are given the option to visit the shops — for no obvious reason a non-playable female friend accompanies you; does she just like shopping? Is she in awe of your manliness? In any case, she just follows you around as you pop into the selection of shops where you can spend medals on items to help you out. There are items to boost your abilities or others to hinder your opposition, such as placing tacks on the track in the hurdles or having a fish attack the other guy in the swimming. Generally, though, the rewards from using these items don’t cover the costs; you’re better off heading straight in to the events.
The variety of the sports offer entertaining gaming, but your playthrough quickly ends. There's some replayability as you try to improve your place in the final standings, but second place can be reached without too much trouble. Beating Team Thorley is trickier, but this is mainly due to them automatically placing in the top two in three of the five events. Much more enjoyment can be had with the multiplayer (the more players the better). The brief length of even the full tournament is perfect for frantic button bashing gaming thrills with friends gathered around a TV screen. With changing control schemes it's perhaps not going to be as in demand as, say, a modern effort like Wii Sports Club: Bowling, but there's still fun to be had here.
The controls take some getting used to, but Crash ‘n the Boys: Street Challenge is fun whilst it lasts. It's unfortunate then that it's over quickly, with the game lacking much in the way of replayability. Invite friends around for some multiplayer shenanigans and the game is a lot more entertaining, but anyone downloading this in the hope of finding a long-lasting and enjoyable single-player experience is likely to be left feeling sad, so very, very, sad.