Tomorrow October 2, 2020, the expected will arrive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s Time , developed by Toys for Bob for Activision. It’s the official return of one of the most iconic video game mascots in the medium’s history. The eccentric marsupial was actually a symbol of the first generation PlayStation. Let’s briefly review his history in preparation for his acclaimed return.
Before Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot was designed by ambitious Californians Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin . Their story, well reported in All Your Bases Belong to Us by Harold Gordlberg, begins in the 1980s. At the time, the two were young students at a summer camp run by the Hebrew School. On this occasion, they bond strongly, thanks to a great common passion: video games. So, during these summer days, Rubin and Gavin decide to create their own development team to be able to create their own video games. Thus was born in Santa Monica (California) the JAM Software , with which Rubin and Gavin created the ski title Ski Crazed, the didactic Math Jam and the adventure game Dream Zone.
In 1989, the California software house changed its name to The Evil Dog and dedicated itself to the development of Rings of Power, an isometric role-playing game inspired by astronaut Richard Garriots’ Ultima II, released in 1991. The title sells out. at 60,000 copies but not enough to keep the company alive. The solution is offered by Universal Studios , which acquires Naughty Dog to develop a platform game for the new PlayStation.
The birth of Crash Bandicoot
At this point, the landscape of the game is very dynamic. Building on the success of the 80s, Nintendo increased its monopoly with the release of Super Entertainment Nintendo (SNES), which consolidated Mario among the most popular characters of the time. Next to the Kyoto giant is SEGA, which in 1991 gained ground with the release of Sonic: The Hedgehog. Sony therefore needs a PlayStation mascot capable of sneaking up on its powerful competitors.
For its aesthetics, Rubin and Gavin are inspired by Australia. The first animal proposed is a marsupial, the wombat, named Willy, but the idea does not seem to convince. The turning point comes when Rubin, browsing a South Pacific travel guide, meets the bandicoot, another marsupial. It’s love at first sight. “When people think of that word, we want the first thing that comes to mind to be our character, not the real animal,” Rubin says in a meeting, as Goldberg reports in the aforementioned book. Thus began the conception of what will be Crash Bandicoot. Gavin describes him as a being with a big heart, courageous, but also stubborn and irreverent. In it, we find the main characteristics of its competitors. In fact, come to think of it, Crash, with his canvas shoes and blue pants, refers to Sonic’s sporty look, while his big heart is reminiscent of Mario. However, everything is reinterpreted in the Naughty dog style.
the 31 August 1996 Crash Bandicoot made his debut in the United States, while in November in Europe, achieving amazing success, especially among young people. The merits are different. Beyond the addicting gameplay, it’s the details that make the game memorable: as the levels progress, the lush flora transports players to Australia, where eccentric characters can elicit more than a laugh, like Papu Papu, Ripper Roo, and the main antagonist, Dr. Neo Cortex. The sound side of Naughty Dog’s work is also valuable, as it required the supervision of Mark Mothersbaugh, a member of JE DOIS , an American new wave group particularly well known between the 70s and 90s.
The return of Crash Bandicoot with N. Sane Trilogy
Rubin and Gavin succeed in their intention, creating a true icon. Their game is playing well and the positive feedback from players and players is evident. For these reasons, two more Crash chapters are formed, up to the 1999 Crash Team Racing (CTR) racing game . The result of the series is 40 million copies sold worldwide. A real phenomenon.
However, after the CTR, Jason and Rubin leave Naughty for personal reasons, mainly health. Despite the rewards and crowned ambitions, the hectic lifestyle demanded by the gaming industry is not sustainable for both of them, especially Gavin. The Crash Bandicoot brand then passed into the hands of Tales of Travelers , leading to the 2001 release of Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex. This is the first title in the series to come out of the PlayStation exclusives ecosystem. The success of the original trilogy will never be replicated, not even when the series moves on to Vicarious Visions, the team that managed the series’ titles for handheld consoles such as Game Boy Advanced.. Crash subsequently passed into the hands of Radical Entertainment, whose most famous title was Crash of the Titans. Finally, the famous marsupial passes under the wing of Acitvision , with Crash: The Mutant Domination.
None of these titles are particularly bad, but the results don’t compare to young Naughty Dog. Crash Bandicoot is in danger of being forgotten. The turning point came in 2017, when Activision and Vicarious Visions gave rise to the remake of N. Sane Trilogy , a modernized version of the historic trilogy designed by Rubin and Gavin. The homecoming proves that Crash is still a beloved and cherished icon, just put her back in her original environment . Also in 2019 is CTR’s remake, titled Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled . The development this time is entrusted to Toys for Bob, which demonstrates the ability to respect the original title, but also to know how to make it attractive to today’s video game audience, thanks to an excellent multiplayer structure.
Into the future with Crash Bandicoot 4: it's time
We therefore arrive at October 2, 2020, the day when the official sequel to the old trilogy, Crash Bandicoot 4 , will arrive : it’s time . The fourth chapter is presented as a fusion between past and future: the mechanics and the visual impact reproduce the atmospheres known in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex strikes back and even more in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped . The naturalistic levels alternate with others of a futuristic type, emphasizing the stylistic mix characteristic of the series. This mixture is also about dimensionality: there are 2D phases mixed with others based on depth.
What’s intriguing, however, are the innovations included in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time . First of all, the official protagonist is no longer the only Crash, but also the little sister Coco and the aforementioned villain, Dr. Neo Cortex. Playing in its place, with ad hoc structured levels, lets you know the new context of the plot. It also involves different gameplay , as the Bad Doctor relies on weapons rather than physical attacks exploited by Crash. The central novelty of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, however, is represented by masks. During the adventure, Crash and Coco can use special disguises that change the use of levels. Slowing down time, materializing and dematerializing boxes, and much more. A novelty which enriches and varies the fun challenge contained in the different levels.
This brief dive into the future ahead of tomorrow’s official release ends with a brief reflection on the difficulty. Long-time gamers will recognize that the level of challenge has decreased in contemporary games, with exceptions like Dark Souls. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s Time takes up the classic difficulty of the old platforms dedicated to marsupial, which yes, it will make you angry, but at the same time ignites the spark of the challenge. Especially if you’re playing in the retro mode , which only provides three lives. A game mode intended for gamers and veteran gamers. For the younger ones, however, Modern Mode is available, in which an endless number of lives are available. There is also multiplayer modeto play offline with other friends, up to 4 users.
What has been reported so far makes it clear that Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s Time unites past and future fans, old and new, adding content that fits perfectly into the style and established structure of the series. A new official debut for Crash Bandicoot and his friends (and enemies), so ready to come back to the fore as before, more than before.