Crazy Athletics II Review

Developer: CrazySoft Publisher: CrazySoft
Release Date: August 5, 2004 Also On: None

When Konami released Track and Field for the NES, consumers ate it up. With it’s easy to learn and simple gameplay, it became a hit for the NES and a classic for the ages. It is clear that Track and Field was an inspiration for CrazySoft’s latest creation as they tried to recapture that magic in their latest creation, Crazy Athletics II, but ultimately comes up short.

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Crazy Athletics II comes with a variety of game modes, split up into two basic categories, namely, Champion Mode and Arcade Mode. In each mode, there are six events to choose from. Specifically, there are 100m Running, Long Jump, Javelin Throw, 100m Hurdles, Hammer Throw, and 100m Swimming events.

Each event is controlled by a simple, two button configuration. The first button is used to start moving and the second is used to gain speed. In some events, the first button is also used as an alternative action such as jumping in hurdles, breathing in swimming, and setting your throwing angle in any of the throwing events. Of course, since almost all of the events in Crazy Athletics II place a large emphasis on speed, this means you’ll have to press that speed button incredibly fast to get anywhere. This button mashing does a number on the thumbs so don’t be surprised to get a few aches in them after playing for a short while.

Both thankfully and unthankfully, CrazySoft decided to allow for a “soft� control scheme where the hard button pressing is replaced by on-screen buttons that you tap with the stylus or finger. I say thankfully because my thumbs got welcome and deserving relief. I say unthankfully because I seemed to encounter many more bugs in this control mode. While I experienced some of the same phenomenon in the hard button mode, the frequency of encountering them was drastically higher in the soft mode.

There were many a time where the first button wouldn’t work. In those cases, the second button started my athlete leaving me no way to speed up or perform any secondary action. Restarting the program fixed this most of the time but I later found out that challenges with multiple events were often impossible to complete because of this bug. Even reinstalling the program did not stop the bug from occurring time after time, lending it to quite a bit of frustration.

My other concern with these configurations is the fact that they require very little, if any actual skill. While this may be alright for players just wanting a quick pick-up-and-go game, I thought it would be important to point out for those who are looking for a deep, challenging game.

In Champion Mode, the player has the chance to train his/her athlete. If a player can beat the given time/distance for that event, they are rewarded a point that increases a certain part of the body or skill, depending on the race. The parts that are available to upgrade are the Arms, Legs, Breath, and Jump. Each time you beat the given time/distance, the time is decreased so you have to complete the event faster (or in the throwing event’s cases, the distance is increased so you have to throw further). Once you think you have gotten your player to a point where you want to race for real, you can enter your player into events to win money that you can use to buy upgrades for your athlete. Single event entries are free while multiple event entries cost an initial fee, but if you win, you get a large profit.

Unfortunately, this is where yet another flaw begins. Like most players would probably do, I raced in training mode and upgraded my player as much as I could before trying to race for money in event mode only to find out that I made a horrible mistake. Remember how I said that the time decreases in training mode every time you beat it? Well I had gotten this time to a point where I could no longer beat it, therefore getting all the upgrades out of that event that I could and decided to race for money only to find out that event mode uses the time from training mode. Talk about an oversight. So now, not only could I not upgrade in training mode, but I couldn’t win money to upgrade either. This could have been fixed if CrazySoft treated event mode as a separate entity from training mode, but unfortunately, this is not the case.

Arcade mode, unlike Champion Mode, is fundamentally flawed. There’s simply very little reason to play it. You can choose from any of the events to play, but there’s no race against the time and you don’t get any reward for winning. You could do the exact same thing in the Champion mode and upgrade your athlete or gain money as you race against the clock. There is an Athletics mode under Arcade mode that allows you to play every event back to back, but that is hardly deserving of its own section, especially since it’s not a hassle to select them individually. Overall, through all the modes and features, I feel like the gameplay wasn’t original enough or improved much at all from a 19 year old NES game.

The graphics, however, were actually the most recognizable retro throwback I saw to the aforementioned NES game, and a welcome one at that. The graphics are crisp and colorful if not incredibly detailed, but they get the job done. The animations are adequate, but that’s about all. While they don’t exactly take away from the game, they surely don’t add anything either.

I was hoping for a sound upgrade after playing Crazy Athletics I, but it seems that my wish was not granted. Sound definitely wasn’t a focus when developing the game, with only a buzzer here and a cheer there to pass the time. Ultimately, it just comes down to the fact that the sound is bad. Sound really helps the player to feel as though they are a part of the game, and Crazy Athletics II could have definitely benefited from that.

Crazy Athletics II is a mixed bag when it comes to replay value as well. Normally, being able to replay any event whenever you want would be a great addition, but the real question is, would you want to? I know that personally, I found myself not really wanting to go back to playing Crazy Athletics II because after only a handful of races, either my thumb’s throbbing or frustrating bugs would painfully remind me why I should play other games instead.

In conclusion, I really wanted to like Crazy Athletics II. I really did. I enjoyed the presentation of the game and I can see the potential and the idea behind the game, but unfortunately, there just isn’t enough pushing it and what there is, it is ridden with frustrating bugs. I simply cannot recommend a purchase of this as it feels more like a mediocre upgrade than a sequel to Crazy Athletics I. CrazySoft is still an amazing developer, without a doubt, but I guess no one can strike gold every time.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 2
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 5.4
Written by Matt Review Guide

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