I’d like to take a break from my usual choice of topics to write a post about something of sentimental value to me as a gamer. I admit this will be a shorter post than usual, but I think this needs to be written. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Crash Bandicoot, the celebrated former mascot for Sony, and naturally, this brings back memories of a simpler time, a time when I spent my days in front of a TV holding an ever-reliable Playstation controller.
Back in the early-mid 2000’s, I was more like a typical snacking schoolboy (not too chubby but you get the picture), sitting in the living room near a balcony, or in my room, sometimes during the evening. When the skies were dark was perhaps when playing the PS1 Crash games was most like a magical experience for some reason. I guess it all felt really, really good back then. Most often I was playing Crash 2, 3, or The Wrath of Cortex, but overtime I came to know all the classic games off the back of my head, and I wasn’t exactly alone. In my family, Crash Bandicoot was literally a household name. Those were great days, but they wouldn’t last long.
In the mid-2000’s the Crash Bandicoot franchise fell into the hands of a number of different companies, before eventually falling into the hands of Activision. In that time, the character wasn’t treated as well as he should be. Since the rights to Crash Bandicoot were owned by Universal, Naughty Dog, the original creators of the series, couldn’t develop any more Crash Bandicoot games within their own rights after 1999, and so after they moved on, Crash became seen as sort of a cash cow for anyone who got their hands on him. Starting from Crash Twinsanity he would be rebooted as a contemporary cartoon character, a direction that would only be apparent once he arrived on the Nintendo Wii in 2007. With Crash of the Titans (which wasn’t a bad game), the series became more like a kid’s cartoon with needless pop culture references. The DS version was even worse, with sitcom-style studio laughter and random fart jokes.
By this point, the producers saw the Crash Bandicoot, and indeed video games in general, as children’s entertainment and treated Crash accordingly, with disastrous results. The grandest disservice to the franchise came a year later, with the release of Mind Over Mutant, a tawdry sequel that injected the same kind of childish humour as Crash of the Titans, but with cheap social commentary, all bundled in with tedious gameplay and bad controls. Given the fact that no substantial Crash Bandicoot game has been released on a home or handheld console ever since, I was convinced that the Crash Bandicoot series was dead, and Activision were the ones who killed it.
Why did Activision do this? I was perfectly happy with the way Crash Bandicoot was going before Radical Entertainment took over. The original games were classics, and in my view, the main problem was that Sony and Naughty Dog didn’t have the rights to the character. Were they able to keep the rights, I’m sure we would have seen more fine Crash Bandicoot games. I’ve written before about the kind of Crash Bandicoot game that I would like to have seen get made, and with Sony to release remastered versions of the original classic games, I have some hope that perhaps we will one day see the return of Crash Bandicoot. I’ve been waiting for the better part of a decade now, but at least there’s some hope for the future of the series. Only time will tell when there might be a new Crash Bandicoot game for all the old fans, but first the rights to the series have to be returned to the series creators, because as we have seen, anyone other than Sony or Naughty Dog will only degrade the series further.