Welcome to the third part of this blog series about Video Games I really want to see again in action. After Ape Escape two weeks ago and Battle Arena Toshinden last week I am going to tell you a bit about the Crash Bandicoot games, the problematic that it was never owned by Sony and how Crash Bandicoot could return with a new game maybe.
Crash Bandicoot might be one of the most wanted Playstation 1 era video game series I myself would really like to see return. This series of platformers with 2D and 3D levels around an anthropomorphic Bandicoot and an insane Professor was basically the “Mario” for the Playstation and also spawned one of the best Kart racing games of its time, and not a few gamers say it still is one of the best even after a couple of great Mario Kart games.
Crash Bandicoot – 1996 – The year of the first 3D Platformers
Crash Bandicoot was released in August 1996. Mario 64 was released only in Japan at that time and only the terrible Bubsy 3D was a competition for Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation, it would take a good while (1998) until other really good 3D platformers would arrive for the platform with Spyro The Dragon or Gex 3D.
In short, Crash Bandicoot was basically in a Pole Position at the time and also had everything a good game needs, the graphics were good, the soundtrack fitting, the gameplay was a mix of 2D and 3D stages which was not seen before and also very different from Mario 64. The characters including the evil Doctor Neo Cortex were all pretty likeable and it seemed like Sony which published the game worldwide found their answer to Mario and Sonic.
The only problem was, they did not own the IP which belonged to Universal Interactive Studios, the distributors of the game and it sequels that were developed by Naughty Dog, known today for Uncharted, Jak & Daxter or The Last Of Us. This was not a big problem during the Playstation era when Sony still had exclusivity rights for the Crash Bandicoot series but they were never able to make Crash Bandicoot an official mascot character because of this.
The game became one of the best-selling Playstation games of all times and its available as a PS-1 classic on Playstation 3 and PSP/Vita at least.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997) & Crash Bandicoot: Warped (1998)
Okay, lets talk a bit more about the games and not the weird IP / Copyrights problematic. Crash Bandicoot 2 was released only a bit more than a year after the first game. CB2 simply improved the first game totally, the graphics were a lot better, the music a bit crisper, there was a bigger variation of different level designs and themes and there were a few more cutscenes and a couple of new characters as well. Crash Bandicoot 2 was not really innovative but that was okay. I totally recommend to watch the walkthrough in the video or at least some parts of it.
It was relative similar with Crash Bandicoot: Warped that was released in October 1998 and took place after Cortex was defeated and a new antagonist, Dr Nefarious Tropy had to be stopped. The graphics were again a good step above the previous game, but the biggest additions in the third CB were the levels where Crash or Coco are riding on an animal or vehicle and the game becomes almost a racer for a while. Crash Bandicoot: Warped was a great experience overall and a true competition for the other platformers of its time like Banjo Kazooie on the Nintendo 64.
It became the ninth best-selling Playstation game of all time with over seven million sold copies worldwide. It also became the first video game ever that was sold over one million times in Japan while it was not developed there.
And still, Sony failed to buy the IP somehow. Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the last main series CB by the original developers around Jason Rubin, but the Playstation received two more games.
Crash Team Racing (1999) – The answer to Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing.
CTR was the first Crash Bandicoot spinoff game and basically the first great kart racer on a non-Nintendo system ever. It had the cool characters from the Crash Bandicoot games including antagonists like Dr. Neo Cortex who was my favourite racer in the game and also some of the animals that helped Crash in the previous games. The tracks were also inspired by stages in the three previous games and connected through a hub similar to how it was done in Diddy Kong Racing, it had an “Adventure Mode” for solo players including boss battles and a couple of cutscenes.
The main draw of the game were the multiplayer modes though and these were simply superb. Up to four players could race against each other thanks to the splitscreen that is missed today way too often and the game also had battle modes where the goal was to attack the others with one of the various items like rockets that could be collected on the racing tracks, there were also special arenas for this mode which turned the game more into a car-combat one like Twisted Metal.
Crash Team Racing had everything a good kart racer needed, it was fast, it was fun, it was well thought out and had good graphics and music as well. The game became a big hit with almost 4 million sold copies. Whenever I play it again via emulator I am hooked for a couple of hours. It’s still that great.
Crash Bash (2000) – Well Nintendo had Mario Party..so lets do something similar with Crash Bandicoot?
This was the last CB game on the aged Sony Playstation and the first game of the series not developed by Naughty Dog. It was made by Eurocom in cooperation with Cerny Games as usual, Universal Games were the distributors and the game was published again by Sony.
Crash Bash was totally a Mario Party clone and did a relative good job, especially if you had three friends to play the game with..but for single players it was not so fun, just like the majority of Party games.
There were many other Crash Bandicoot games, for multiple platforms but they were almost all pretty bad or just mediocre. I might sound like a fucking fanboy, but the series died for me after the Playstation era. I don’t want to write about these other games. ’nuff said.
Why would I like to see Crash Bandicoot coming back?
First of all, because Crash Team Racing . Today in 2015 the best kart racing game on the market is Mario Kart 8 and while there were a couple of relative good kart racers like ModNationRacers on the Playstation 3, they are simply not in the same league. Both the Playstation, the Xbox One and even the PC could use a really strong competition for MK8 and I am sure that a new Crash Bandicoot racer could be damn great if done by the right people and the name alone might still be popular enough to make it a hit.
The Crash Bandicoot series of platformers was also great and while Nintendo is developing great 3D platformers for every new platform I am still hoping for indie games like “A Hat In Time” to be released finally because all other big game companies aside from Nintendo seem to ignore the genre completely. A new Crash Bandicoot that is not focussing on stupid gimmicks but brings back what made the first three games so good could be awesome, be it on a Sony platform or for multiple ones.
How to restart Crash Bandicoot and bring it back and make it a success?
Now that’s the real question. What would be the best method to bring back Crash Bandicoot and even more important, who would or should develop it?
Personally I think that the only persons who should work on a new CB with the intention to make it something big again should be the guys who invented and directed the first CB games. Mark Cerny, the designer of Crash Bandicoot and Jason Rubin, the director of the classic CB games. Also some of the other involved programmers like Andy Gavin.
The thing is however, all these guys are either still working for Sony, or like in the case of Jason they work on totally different companies now and are not a team anymore since many years. The IP itself belongs to Activision and well, they were not able to make even one really good Crash Bandicoot but cancelled a couple of CB games its unknown if they will ever use the license for anything now. To be honest, I don’t know how Crash Bandicoot could return to former glory with all these factors.
This fan art by Ry-Spirit sums up my feelings right now. Oh well.
Thanks for reading, what are your thoughts and memories about the Crash Bandicoot series and would you like to see it back in action as well?