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Crash Boom Bang! - hands-on

The last time GamesRadar looked at Crash Boom Bang! it was described as, " Mario Party, but without all that Mario." Now having actually played it... that pretty much said it all.

The idea here is that you and up to three of yourbuddies (you have to play through a single-player version of each game board againstcomputer opponents first, in order to unlock them for multiplayer action) move around one of six different game boards. Depending which space you land on, you'll trigger a number of effects, like winning extra turns, gaining an item, battling against other players, dropping to a sub-map or competing in any of 40 minigames.

Which all sounds remarkably familiar. That doesn't mean it won't necessarily be entertaining; it just means you've seen this before. Like oh, about once a year for the past eight years. Only with a plumber instead of a bandicoot. Oh... but it's possible to text message other players if you want to gang up or make deals, which is new.

Crash Boom Bang!throws in at least one other unique wrinkle of its own worth pointing out: gambling. When one player enters a minigame, the other players canplace wagerson how well orpoorly he will perform. This is done by first placing a bet. Then, as the player runs around completing whatever task he was assigned, the other players can either assist himwith Power Crystals (such asspeed boost, power boost, etc.), or hinderhim using Motion Panels - basically, very big cartoon bubbles that obscure part of the screen with verybig, distracting cartoon effects. Oddly enough, you clear these by blowing on the DS' built-in microphone - which is deeply weird, but in practice it's just weird enough for a laugh (at least the first couple of times).

All of which should make it pretty obvious that Crash Boom Bang!is both more of the same, and a bit extra. Certainly, one or two of the later game boards (hey Volcano Land, we're looking at you) are complicated enough to make you pay special attention to keep track of where you're landing so as not to wind up on the wrong spot and fall through to some truly nasty little sub-maps. As a party game, it will suffice.