Featuring the voices of Martin Short and Eugene Levy this game was first released in 1996. At first glance it appears to be aimed at young children with its excellent cartoon-style graphics, simplistic gameplay and small game world yet the age rating on the manual is 13+. There is logic to this recommendation as some of the humour and dialogue point towards this 'older' market. It is my guess that the developers were trying for broad appeal and succeeded only in limiting it. This is not to say that Creature Crunch is devoid of merit, it's just that it doesn't succeed in being suitable for everyone.
"A boy has been turned into a rude, slobbering creature and trapped in a mansion with a bunch of violent monsters who want to destroy him and his only friend is a brain floating in a jar."
So announces a newsflash on one of the television sets in the evil Dr. Drod's mansion and that just about sums up the plot line.
The boy is named Wesley and he seeks shelter from a storm at Dr. Drod's mansion and immediately becomes part of an evil experiment to turn him into a monster. The experiment goes wrong and young Wes is only partly turned into a monster. He teams up with a remnant of Brian (a former pizza delivery boy) which is the brain floating in the jar and must try to return both of them to their former selves and escape from the mansion.
Creature crunch is undoubtedly driven by the mouse click. In every location there is a myriad of things to click on and each one will get a response. Shoes tap and talk, hanging portraits chat away, washing machines wink, body parts squish and squelch, chairs tell their problems; practically everything has something to say or do. Many of the animated responses are amusing, good stuff for the very young, and there's some witty dialogue and funny moments for older players as well although it does become one dimensional after a while. You do need to search out every hotspot, click everything and see what happens just in case there is an important item that Wes will want to pick up. As I said, great for young kids but this kind of interaction does get a tinge repetitive as you wonder what the next animation will be, and if it will be just a little too long and make you wait patiently before the next mouse click and the next animation.
Maybe the 'click-mouse-wait-for-animation' ritual, was relied on a bit too much in Creature Crunch, to the detriment of other types of involvement such as solving puzzles and using inventory items, but more about that in a moment. Not only is finding every hotspot crucial so that you don't miss anything but some items have to be clicked on more than once to get the desired response. You don't know which items, of course, so a lot of repetition is necessary to progress. This was where I went wrong. I was stuck for a short while because I didn't continue clicking on a couple of objects after I had seen the animation. The problem for me was that after seeing so many animated responses I didn't feel inclined to click twice (or more) on everything to get served up more of the same.
Apart from being very diligent with your pointing and clicking there is little to hold you up in this game. There are no real puzzles to mull over and trial and error with the few items in your inventory will quickly see you through to the end.
The mild puzzles come in the form of 'guardians' that inhabit a fair number of the rooms. These guardians must be defeated before you can explore the room; otherwise you will be unceremoniously booted out to your last location where you can try again. The guardians can only be defeated by Wes eating the correct inventory item for each particular guardian. (Remember Wesley is part monster after all and Brian will explain that eating things is what monsters do.) When he eats the correct item Wes will temporarily mutate into another form of creature and dispose of the guardian. Then you can safely search that room for more animations and, maybe, another item. When you find an item Wes will put it in his underwear until you need it. To see what he keeps in his underwear you just need to right click on him. There are not many items to collect and when you need one to deal with a monster Wes will tell you up front if it's the right thing or not.
The cartoon graphics are still good, even by today's standards and the voice acting is also top notch though, lamentably, Creature Crunch lacks subtitles. The game is amusing, without being memorable, but it is far too short and lacks challenge for all but very young players. If I were reviewing it solely for young kids I would have been less critical in this review. However, if in the mood for a few chuckles and a bit of mild entertainment older or more experienced players might want to check it out for its novelty value and to while away a lazy afternoon. For me the high point was disposing of the cat guardian ... nine times of course J
Creature Crunch plays directly from the single CD and the installation process merely creates a folder to store your save games.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2002.
All rights reserved.
Win 95/98, 16 MB RAM, CD ROM, 4 MB video card, mouse.