Blast From The Past
Blast From The Past: Crash Bandicoot

Sony launched their big grey slab back in 1995, it launched with brilliant games but it was lacking in something, it didn’t have a recognisable figure like Nintendo’s Mario or Sega’s Sonic, it was lacking that public face that it really needed to secure mass market appeal. Sony obviously weren’t worried at all by this though as they had a killer IP waiting in the shadows. A year later the beast was unleashed onto the public in the form of a smart aleck bandicoot.

Naughty Dog brought the world a bright orange, board short and sneaker wearing, bandicoot by the name of Crash. Crash was Sony’s answer to Mario, his keen attitude and lush worlds were a stark contrast to those pastel colours found in the Mushroom Kingdom, also its unique 3D perspective really sealed the deal. Keeping in style with 2D platformers linear style of play, Naughty Dog had managed to switch up the perspective and have the player run into the screen and interact with objects and hazards on a new plane. Unlike Super Mario 64, which launched shortly before, was about the freedom and exploration of tight level environments, Crash Bandicoot had more in common with Rayman’s style of play than the Italian plumber’s.

Sometimes Naughty Dog would mix things up from the running into the screen affair that typified the first few levels of play. The ‘Great Wall’ levels would see you climbing ever upwards in a level design that harked right back to traditional platforming skills. Other levels could see you running into the screen, not knowing what obstacles waited before you, whilst being forever chased by a huge rolling boulder to make sure you kept the pace up. Boss fights would fit the more standard hit-them-to-beat-them mechanic found in many platformers, but the levels they were designed for, along with the characters themselves, made these engagements incredibly brilliant to play.

And thats what made Crash Bandicoot just so fun to play, its characters. It had everything you wanted from a game. Crash was driven to embark upon his journey after being stranded on a beach after escaping from Dr. Neo Cortex’s lab post experiment, next in line for experimentation was his girlfriend Tawana. Tawana herself contained very little personality, but she also commanded very little screen time so it didn’t matter. It was the collection of mutated animals that created the bosses that made the gameplay perfect; bum crack of Papu Papu when he bent over, the cackles of Ripper Roo in his straightjacket as he caused you pain, the 1930s gangster aesthetic of Pinstripe, all of them all oozed charm and exuberance aplenty.

Crash Bandicoot also had itself a secret ending and secret levels for those who were mad enough to clear every level with 100% completion and attain all the secret gems, or those sneaky enough to use the SUPER cheat code to unlock it all. These game extending gems would be the bane of their young lives for many players, finding and breaking every box (including TNT boxes) would prove to be a big challenge. The reward? A true ending where you fly off with Tawana on a giant bird, taking her to safety but ultimately allowing Dr. Neo Cortex to escape safely.

It is clear for anyone to see that Crash’s first entry was a very successful one, technically it was marvel for Naughty Dog and platformers in general thanks to its graphical management of the PS1’s capabilities. It received great critical acclaim, scoring 8/10 practically across the board, and then spawning two more fantastic sequels and a kart racer whilst under the guise of Naughty Dog. Unfortunately since being outsourced the IP has lost the clout it once had, ultimately becoming nothing more than a game aimed at kids, but the original will forever be one of the best platformers to grace any console.

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