Would you feel old if we told you that Crash Bandicoot first “woah”-ed onto our TV screens more than two decades ago? The original game launched in 1996 and since then the marsupial has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride. After bringing out new releases fairly consistently, production on “Crash Bandicoot” games stopped. It looked like that was the end of the road, but after years of game developers speculating on its future, it returned with a remastered collection of the original games. Now, with the potential for a brand new game on the horizon, we’re wondering how Crash’s different releases compare with each other.
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex
When you have a formula that works, you don’t want to mess with it. Unfortunately, it’s that way of thinking that meant reception towards “The Wrath of Cortex” was mixed. Although it offers the same great gameplay as it’s PS1 predecessors, there is nothing particularly innovative about this release. Given it was the fourth main game in the series, and the first on a new generation of console, we were hoping for something a little more original. That’s not to say the game is terrible, though. Far from it. The levels are still imaginative, the bosses challenging, and the addition of Crunch Bandicoot to the Crash universe is a particular highlight.
Crash Tag Team Racing
The people behind Crash Bandicoot clearly saw how Nintendo was branching their popular Mario franchise into racing games and wanted a piece of the action. “Crash Tag Team Racing” is the third and final console racing game for the series, and it does something a little new with the formula. Rather than only offering a racing experience like its predecessors, it includes platforming elements too. These two components compliment each other rather well, even if some of the level designs are relatively basic. Much like “Mario Kart: Double Dash,” “Tag Team Racing” allows players to drive around with two characters on one vehicle. However, the selling point here is that you can combine (“clash”) your car with another driver’s so that one character can shoot down the competition. It gets pretty brutal.
Crash Bandicoot really is like Sony’s answer to Mario. Not only have they both produced great racing and platform games, but they’ve also dipped their toe in party games too. At the turn of the century, Playstation saw the release of “Crash Bash,” a game with a bit of a twist. You play minigames to complete the various warp rooms, with each zone culminating in a boss battle. Once you collect a trophy in a minigame, you can return to it for additional challenges to obtain the gems and crystals required for game progression. Replayability is vital for a party game, and “Crash Bash” offers that in waves, especially as some of the challenges aren’t easy to beat. Plus, with the option to play alongside a friend, it’s hard to put the controller down. We find it’s a lot easier to throw it at the TV in frustration though.
What’s something that you never thought Crash Bandicoot and Neo Cortex would do? Our answer would be teaming up, but apparently, we’d be wrong. After all, the 2007 PS2 game “Twinsanity” is based around the protagonist and antagonist working together against a greater evil. What evil could be greater than Cortex you ask? Two parrots, obviously. “Twinsanity” is one of the first mainline games to be produced without Naughty Dog, and it does a pretty incredible job. This release is more explorative than its predecessors and is a lot more rooted in humor. That’s backed up by the inventive soundtrack which shows a goofier side to Crash’s standard sound. The storytelling elements, character development, and challenge are all present, making for one immersive experience. It just needs a little extra oomph to make it stand out more.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped
The last of the initial three “Crash Bandicoot” platform games released on the PlayStation One, “Warped” has some of the greatest level variety in the franchise. Its emphasis on time travel allows you to play levels set in Ancient Egypt, Medieval and Prehistoric times, as well as the distant future. The release also offers an incredible amount of diversity in its gameplay too, but that is both its shining moment and its downfall. On the one hand, it ensures that most levels never really feel the same. One moment you’re riding a tiger through Oriental China, the next you’re racing down the highway of 1950s America. However, while the level variety is perfect, the addition of time trials is not so great. If you like getting 100% on your games, the need to complete all the levels within allotted times can be frustrating. Suddenly, a challenging platformer doesn’t seem such a great idea.
Crash Team Racing
Following the success of the “N.Sane Trilogy,” fans started asking for one thing – a “Crash Team Racing” remaster. It’s one of the best games in the franchise, and a release that rivals even the best “Mario Kart” titles out there. With a total of 15 characters available to play as, the game boasts a decent roster of racers, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Who you choose to race as is up to you, but whoever you pick, you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you. While there are only 16 courses in the game, the various modes mean you won’t be giving up anytime soon. Not only does the game offer your standard racing and battle options, but to complete it, you have to compete in unique boss races too. These see you go one on one with an antagonist from the franchise, but your opponent doesn’t play fair. The added challenge of winning with the odds against you makes for a greater sense of accomplishment when you come out on top.
Usually, nothing beats the original, but in this case, the first game just misses the mark. Although not necessarily revolutionary for the genre when it was released, “Crash Bandicoot” still made waves back in the ‘90s. It was highlighted for its graphics and colorful levels (which show more story progression than most other platformers), both of which were improved upon with the PS4 remaster. The game also sets up a basis for future titles, including the collection of colored gems to complete earlier levels. The only thing really missing from Crash’s debut release is the challenge. Is the game easy? No, but even a casual gamer could complete it within a day. If “Warped” makes things too hard, then the original makes them too simple.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
“Crash Bandicoot” may have been the original game, but it wasn’t until the sequel that the franchise found its feet. The warp zone feature allows for a greater variety of level environments compared to its predecessor, and they’re a bit more challenging too. The addition of death routes and more inventive ways of collecting the colored gems also ensures that you don’t finish the game in one sitting. Although incomparable twenty years later, the graphics at the time were something worth raving about, as was the strength of the controls. Funnily enough, the latter is something that’s actually become worse with the remastered version, although the visual improvements are beyond what we’d ever have imagined.
Crash Bandicoot formed such an essential part of our younger years, and the thought that we might be getting some new games is incredibly exciting. However, the people at Vicarious Visions should take note of this post. The franchise’s best games are the ones that came first (hence why the remasters have sold so well). If you’re going to bring the Bandicoot back, try and recreate what these titles did so well!