The game of the week for this week's Retro Weekly is one that is very close to my heart: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Crash Bandicoot: Where He’s Been, Why He Matters, and Why He Needs to Come Back
Having grown up in an age where I experienced classic games on systems such as the NES, SNES, and Genesis, I consider myself pretty lucky. After all, there’s an entire generation of gamers today that have never had the chance to play Mortal Kombat or A Link to the Past for the first time on the original systems, and that’s an experience that can’t be truly re-created to the point where it’s exactly as it once was.
That being said, while I had access to these systems and played them regularly at friend’s houses, the two systems I played the most growing up included the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation. Why? Simply put, because my family owned a 64, and my best friend had a PSX in her basement. And it was there, during hours of drinking soda, eating cookie dough, and passing controllers on the couch, that I met one of the most important characters in gaming history: Crash Bandicoot.
Whether it’s his rude tone, his odd characteristics, or the over-the-top game in which he starred, there’s something special about Crash that made him both endearing and appealing. He truly ushered in the era of quirky 3D platformers, and the original on PSX still holds up today as a great game in terms of design and execution. Let’s face it; had there been no Crash, it’s likely we would have never seen games such as Jak and Daxter, Gex, or even Ratchet and Clank.
During an era when the pixel was out and the polygon was in, Crash became something of a mascot for Sony. Serving as a direct antagonist to the kid-friendly Mario, Crash truly embodied much of kid culture during the mid-90’s; he was loud, he was crude, and he had an attitude. He was a strong departure from Mario, and for that, his popularity soared.
Need proof? Check out this ad for the original PlayStation in one of the most blatant TV spots I’ve ever seen:
Yes, he was at the forefront of the 3D era, helping PlayStation hit the mainstream by speaking to kids of the 90’s on a new level.
But after some lackluster games and a move to the Activision vault, you’ll find that Crash is no more at the forefront of the gaming industry, instead becoming nothing more than a sweet memory of those lucky enough to have known him in his prime.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn’t be this way.
When speculation for the roster of PlayStation All Stars: Battle Royale first started, Crash seemed to be all but a shoe-in. After all, he’s one of the most well known and easily recognizable Sony icons in history, and he’s quirky enough to fit the tone like a glove. And yet, he was nowhere to be found once the game was released.
This is kind of what started me down this nostalgia-ridden road we wander together now. Where has he gone, and why haven’t we seen hide nor hair of him?
There’s both a simple and complex answer to this question. The first being that he’s Activision’s property now, and no longer lives in the Sony house alongside Nathan Drake and Kratos (and what a house that would be).
Why haven’t we seen him? In my mind, it’s because either A) Activision is being stingy with Crash because they have future plans with him, or B) Activision doesn’t give a Wumpa fruit about Crash Bandicoot. Sadly, the latter is probably the more likely answer, since Activision is a company who likes to focus on big triple-A titles that have annualizable or sequel potential.
This is where we come to the crux of the discussion. Where he would have been considered a major player in the gaming space seventeen years ago (and maybe even a system seller), Crash simply doesn’t have the same cache anymore. But it’s not him; it’s us.
Like any other entertainment medium, gaming has seen different fads and phases. During the late 90’s and early 00’s, there was an amazing demand for 3D platformers and RPGs that somewhat carried over from gaming’s early years in the 80’s. In today’s gaming space, the action adventure game and the First Person Shooter reigns supreme as the preferred gaming experience of a majority of gamers.
This isn’t to say, however, that there is no place for any other type of games. Far from it, actually, as we’ve seen myriad games of many different types and styles released over the years to great success. It’s easier than ever to access different genres today, and because of that, I think the time is right for Crash to make a comeback.
Now, considering the idea of fads and phases, he probably wouldn’t enjoy much success as a retail release on disc. In fact, I’d be terrified to see that happen, simply because the market is somewhat fickle toward major retail release platformers today (with the exception of games like Mario and Rayman, of course). But the revolution in the downloadable space gives me reason to believe that Crash would do well on a platform such as Steam, PSN, or XBLA. It could be an all-new adventure, or it could even be an HD re-make of the original on PSX. Honestly, I’m somewhat indifferent. But considering the nostalgic outcries of gamers today and our knack for cashing in on re-makes and re-releases, I have reason to believe that Crash could potentially be immensely popular if handled right.
Really, I just want to see one of my all-time favorite characters brought back for an entirely new generation to experience. Being that he’s one of the key figures of gaming in its relatively young age, I think it’s only fitting we give the Bandicoot another chance.
What do you think of bringing back Crash Bandicoot? How would you want it handled? Tell me in the comments below!