Let me ask you a serious question.
Think of any game you've played that had, as part of its storyline, an intense rivalry between a hero and a villain: Cloud and Sephiroth, Solid Snake and Big Boss, Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker, Jak and Daxter (because that little bastard is up to something and we all know it), or whoever else you care to name.
Can you think of a single one of those rivalries that would not have been made better in every way--more memorable, more interesting, more dramatic--by the inclusion of a long sequence where the hero, sliding down a snow-covered slope at goddamn miles an hour, used the villain as an improvised snowboard?
Don't lie to yourself. You know it'd be awesome.
Crash Twinsanity offers just such a sequence, with Crash Bandicoot, half-retarded survivor of the mascot wars, goes sledding downhill at Mach Now while standing on his archnemesis Dr. Cortex's back. It's one of the funniest moments in a funny game, and honestly, it'd be enough for its own game. Crash Snowboarding would be awesome.
Unfortunately, Crash Twinsanity doesn't let you spend the whole game skidding around on Cortex's back. Instead, it's largely a self-parodying cartoon of a 3D platformer, that suffers from a bizarre disconnect between its level design and its controls.
It's been three years since The Wrath of Cortex, and predictably, the evil Dr. Cortex escapes from his iceberg prison with one thought on his mind. His plot for revenge gets foiled about fifteen minutes into Twinsanity, forcing Cortex to cooperate with Crash if he wants to survive. The Evil Twins, aliens from the tenth dimension, have sworn to destroy Crash's island unless they're given Cortex, and Crash isn't smart enough to simply give him to them. Therefore, Crash and Cortex must work together to foil the Twins' plans.
In this case, "work together" is a crude euphemism for Crash using Cortex as a multipurpose tool. When both characters are in the same room, Crash can swing Cortex around as a bludgeon, hammer boxes with his face, or toss him across a gap to destroy monsters or flip switches. On a long downhill slope, Cortex will start pummeling Crash, resulting in a sequence that's oddly like Marble Madness, as you roll Crash and Cortex around while they beat on each other.
(Here, I'm going to have to apologize. If any part of Crash Twinsanity is taken, in whole or in part, from a previous Crash game, I wouldn't know anything about it. This is the first Crash game I've played, so I'm taking it purely on its own merits.)
When a character, usually Crash, is on his own, Crash Twinsanity becomes a fairly standard 3D platformer, with all that implies. It's got a considerably weirder approach than most, but it gets repetitive fast; too many stages depend upon bizarre puzzles involving volatile crates of nitroglycerin, and not enough on the actual hop'n'bop that characterizes most of the game.
At this point, I'd kind of like to go off on Twinsanity for its platforming, but to be honest, I'm not sure where the problem lies. I'd like to think that the game's controls are a little too loose, the collision detection's a bit off, and the level design's flawed. On the other hand, I could very well just suck at 3D platformers.
You go through lives fast in Twinsanity, and it's usually from falling to your doom. Whether it's by bouncing off crates, tiptoeing around explosives, leaping from platform to platform, ricocheting off springs, or running frantically along the top of a spinning gear, you spend a considerable amount of Twinsanity suspended precariously above a bottomless pit.
That's arguably the way it should be, and I'm fairly comfortable with that. I'm also glad to see that jumping around like a madman is the point of the game, as opposed to the constant collecting of whatsits that's come to characterize a platformer. You do collect whatsits in Twinsanity, such as Wumpa fruit or secret gems, but they're either optional or automatic.
That being said, Twinsanity gets frustrating fast and doesn't let up. Quite a few jumps involve dropping onto a very small ledge with instant death awaiting you on either side, so it's insanely easily to over- or undershoot your target. During the snowboarding sequence, there are quite a few points where unless you took a certain path about thirty seconds ago, you're going to blow a ramp and there's nothing you can do about it. As a matter of fact, there's one ski ramp in the first snowboarding sequence that I'm almost positive cannot actually be leapt over; you have to suddenly veer right and avoid it completely.
Then again, that's the point where I have to wonder if the game's actually flawed, or if I'm just not used to a game that works this way. Crash Twinsanity is meant for serious platforming fans with equally serious skills, and if you're not one of those people, there are extra lives scattered far and wide throughout the game.
Whether I suck or not, though, Twinsanity's a bit on the glitchy side. The game's frozen on me a couple of times, requiring a hard reset; there's a small chance that hitting a switch won't trigger the associated effect; and on several occasions, I've had an enemy wander over to Crash and kill him during a cutscene, when I'm helpless to do anything about it.
I can't speak to Crash Twinsanity's merits as a Crash Bandicoot game, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found here. When it wasn't kicking my head in for little to no reason, Twinsanity's a fun and funny game that's well worth a few hours of your time. I can't help but wonder if it's more difficult than it was intended to be, however.