Yes, I know this is a cheap callback to my previous review, but its true. When I first came up with the idea to do 90's Kid Presents, one of the first games on my list of games to review was Croc. It had been years since I played this game, and my memory of it was quite fuzzy. So just glancing at the game's packaging I thought "Pfft, a post-Mario 64 platformer for the PS1? This game is gonna be terrible. Why do i even still have this thing?!" And you know what? This game honestly surprised me. This game is good, damn good actually.
Lets start off with the history of the game. Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was made in 1997 by Argonaut Games (a studio that mostly stuck to licensed titles for properties like Harry Potter, Alien, and Disney, with their only big claim to fame being co-programmers on the original Starfox game) and published by Fox Interactive (this being their first non-licensed game they published) With a pedigree like that, its no wonder why my expectations were so low. you play as Croc, an orphaned fang-toothed Crocodile that washes up on Gobbo Island, home to the Gobbos and their leader, King Rufus. The native Gobbos raise the baby Croc until one day the Island is overrun by the villain of the story, Baron Dante. Dante kidnaps the Gobbos, and it's our hero's job to rescue his captive family. The plot is pretty straight forward and gets the job done.
Speaking of straight forward, lets talk about the gameplay. In the post-Mario 64 landscape of platformers, it was hard for platformers to stand out without having the brilliant level design and 3D gameplay of Nintendo's juggernaut. Such is the case with Croc. Levels are fairly straight-forward: go from area to area collecting shiny orbs for health ala Sonic the Hedgehog, while along the way finding 6 of your trapped Gobbo comrades per level, with the last one usually hidden behind a secret doorway that can only be opened by finding 5 colored orbs. Collecting all your Gobbos unlocks secret levels in each of the 4 worlds that lead inevitably to the final world with Baron Dante. So a big part of the gameplay is collecting things, and while it may seem like arbitrary fetch quests, all those things do lead to a something in the end.
Control-wise, its your standard fare for games like this. Croc can jump, spin his tail like a whip, and do a hip drop ala Mario. Like i said, its the standard platformer fare. As is the level design for each world. Levels are close-knit, and dont offer much in the way of frills. If you've played platformers from the 16-bit era with no problem, you will do fine here. you're only main contention in this game light be the control scheme. Keep in mind, this was a pre-dualshock PS1 title, so Croc control via the D-Pad. So expect him to control like a tank, though his turn radius is not as bad as something like, for example, Tomb Raider. The game does give you a 180 degree turn button that works in a snap, so that does alleviate some of the trouble. Camera controls are mounted to the shoulder buttons as you would expect, and the camera does a pretty solid job of staying behind you in action. Aside from a few missed jumps here and there, the controls will have you moving through the game with ease. Graphically, the game is nothing special. Models are as detailed as what you would expect from the 1997-era PS1 game, as are the textures. Levels are small, and even though there's a sense of emptiness in some of the levels, the layout is such that you never feel anything is out of place or gets in the way. Just don't expect a scenic view.
Honestly, there's not much i can say more about the game. Even with all the positive press Ive given, there really isnt much to say about it other than its good. Its something that even after writing this review, I do expect to keep playing and even finishing. Its satisfying in almost a mind-numbing way, in the same way old beat-em ups from the 16-bit era were fun. Its not something I would expect you to go out and purchase as a classic, but if you happen to see a copy cheap at a flea market, you could do worse with your money than pick it up.