When we previewed Crash: Boom Bang!, Crash Bandicoot's first game for the DS, we were optimistic that it would prove to be a sufficiently fun party game. After playing the full retail version, however, our optimism has completely crashed and quickly burned into a dismal pile of ash.
In CBB, similar to the Mario Party series, you move one of eight Crash characters along a themed game board, earning or losing points depending on where you land and partaking in periodic multiplayer minigames.
Although many of the 40 minigames sound like they should be fun - such as racing, flying, shooting baskets, hitting opponents with mallets, rolling around a giant pool table and trying to knock each other off of the board - they are instead agonizing bouts of frustration.
In just about every minigame you'll be frantically scraping at the screen trying to get your character to do anything that resembles a helpful move while cursing at the poorly programmed and inaccurate touch screen controls, the horrible sense of depth and the way the CPU seems to randomly choose whether two objects have touched or not. Only a 3-D maze and a couple of the shooting games offer any moments of enjoyable relief. The rest of the minigames are simply more work than fun.
Each turn and twist on a tiny game board's road (which is about every three or four spaces) comes with a series of poorly worded pop-up text windows that require several touch screen taps to clear. You'll literally see the same damn instructions hundreds of times and none of them are very helpful.
Even collected power-up objects that would seem to make you go further and faster - sneakers, a bike and a scooter - instead slow you or your opponent down to single space moves, drawing out each level to an even more slow and painful degree.
Making matters even worse, the touch screen periodically stops working in the middle of certain minigames for no apparent reason. We initially thought it was our DS but then experienced the same problem in several systems and decided it is either an annoying glitch or a secret attack only the game's programmers know about.
Playing through the single-player story game even once to unlock the boards will completely spoil any desire you may have to try the multiplayer game in much the same way the smell of burnt microwave popcorn can spoil a vanilla-scented office.
Even if you muster up enough patience and courage to try CBB with a few friends, fight those feelings. The minigames don't play any better with real-world opponents and the few games available for single-cart download play are not worth sharing.
If this is your idea of a good party game, you'd better provide an impressive buffet of fantastic snacks for your friends. Otherwise, one pass at CBB and they may never want to play with you again, leaving you instead to many lonely nights partying by yourself.