Here at Everybody Plays, we're still not entirely sure who Mr. Gogo is, nor quite why he has Crazy Bones, but it seems another craze of the 90s is in the midst of a resurgence. On their own, the cute and colourful plastic characters that make up the Crazy Bones collection may not seem to be much of a toy, but according to my younger brother, the collectible figurines are used to play a game sort of similar to traditional marbles, where each player lines up their Gogos and takes it in turns hurling a Gogo at their friends', trying to knock as many over as possible. There's probably a fair few other games you can play with them too, but seeing as they were playing for keeps and he was good at the one he described, he never played any others.
For their DS debut, the toys star in what is essentially a clone of popular iPhone downloadable Angry Birds, which sees you catapulting your little plastic characters across a landscape at the 'enemy' characters at the other end, as you try to knock them over. Much like the aforementioned Angry Birds, you'll need to calculate the right trajectory and power to put on your character so they reach their intended target and dismantle everything within five turns (you can only take five Crazy Bones into each level). Much like the fad toys, there's a light collecting aspect too, where you unlock new figures as you play, with each figure having their own mixture of speed, balance and bounce statistics, as well as a special emergency mid-air move dependent on their colour - for example, purple Gogos can drop straight out the sky with a tap, while yellow characters can curve back on themselves mid-flight, boomerang style.
For each of the game's 25 levels, there are three different 'sub levels' to complete, each with a different aim. The first 'Battle' mode is essentially a game of Angry Gogos, with a number of characters in a fort of sorts midway along the landscape, and you simply need to launch your Gogo team at them, trying to knock down their buildings and defeat each character. The trickier 'Basket' has you launching your Gogos into a series buckets - further away ones net you more points than a close one, but are often in more awkward to reach places. The final mode is 'Knock Out', in which a series of 'enemy' Gogos are standing in hatched areas, and you need to fire your Gogo at them to knock them out of their designated areas to win. Your performance on each level is rated from one to three stars dependent on your final score, and these stars are the key to opening up new worlds of levels.
The key to success is a combination of geometry, physics and a whole load of luck, as you fling your Crazy Bones around the five increasingly difficult worlds - but luck itself is the game's only real downfall, in that so much of it is based on chance that things can get a bit frustrating from time to time. With no way to zoom out to get a wider view for a better idea of where your shot will land, your only the option to pan from side to side on the bottom screen, which can make things a bit hard to judge, particularly on the latter levels. And much like when cooking pancakes, it's best to resign yourself to the fact that the first will always go wrong - your initial Gogo will pretty much universally miss your target completely, as you then try to adjust your power and trajectory to suit on subsequent shots. But with just five Crazy Bones to play with per level, the first of which will largely be irrelevant, things can seem unfairly tight at times, especially as the difficulty ramps up.
It's a pretty simple game but also a surprisingly decent one, even if you're not really familiar with the Crazy Bones craze - and at a bargain price of around £15 in most online stores, it's a bit of a no brainer for fans of the toys. That said, it isn't really the longest of games, and the 75 levels it boasts of will likely only take a few hours to complete - after that, it depends on how keen you are to go back and replay levels for better scores as to how much time you get out of it.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS