Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
I was talking to my co-worker earlier this week and I mentioned the PS1… and I might have mentioned the gramophone for all the good it did. Fearing that I was now becoming an old man I mentioned Crash Bandicoot as well… only for there to be nothing more than a blank look. Leading me to wonder the simple question: Can Crash Bandicoot make a comeback in this day and age?
First off, we need to work out why Crash Bandicoot caught on the way he did. If I had to put money on it, I’d say that it’s because he’s the perfect mix of Sonic and Mario. He has the attitude and ‘coolness’ that Sonic possessed, while the good-natured lovableness of Mario. He fits in perfectly with the 90s generation, reflecting both what was popular in the past and what was becoming popular in the present. On top of that the gameplay was fairly initiative. It was a side-scolling game played from a completely different perspective. Surprisingly enough it works, when by all logic it should have fallen apart miserably. It was something new and unique in the video game world. The third big element was the art style. It’s actually a really beautiful game when you stop to admire it, since a lot of it was crafted well. Still one of the biggest source of success was its offbeat humour. It’s somewhat subdue but it’s there, and it’s hilarious. But in a nutshell this game really defined a lot of the nineties and helped make the Playstation the winner of the console wars. So with that in mind, would Crash Bandicoot work today?
Now it should be noted that there have been games made in the 2000s… They were mostly just rubbish and involved a complete reinvention of the formula. In all honestly the first three games are perhaps the best you’re ever gonna get, the third one in particular being the most diverse in terms of gameplay. So taking the games as they were in the 90s, would they work today? The answer is a ‘probably not’, for a few reasons. Firstly the games are much harder than games are nowadays. Back then you had one hit point and if you died it was back to the start of level with you. Nowadays you can go through entire games without dying and the punishment is near negligible. Now you could argue that this is a good or bad thing (or argue that I’m getting better at games, so the difficulty curve seems to have lessened because of it), but chances are a game of this difficulty wouldn’t be as popular with today’s youth. The second is that while it’s great how Crash embodies the nineties… he’s also eternally stuck in them. It’s much the same problem that’s facing Sonic at the moment. He’s so tied into the decade the writers have no idea how to actually move him out of it. Any attempts at an update have always fallen flat on their face because they belong to a culture that just doesn’t exist like that any more. He has become vastly outdated and would only work as a nostalgic throwback. But the biggest problem is ironically enough the silliest: The aesthetics wouldn’t be as good on current gen graphics. Crash Bandicoot embraced its limitations and worked wonders with them. It had a simplistic colour pallet because that’s all that was needed. Given how polished the Crash Bandicoot series could look nowadays, it somehow wouldn’t feel the same. Crash Bandicoot is defined by its blocky shape and its barely textured surfaces. Giving Crash realistic fur would just seem totally out of place. So it’s unlikely that Crash Bandicoot will make a comeback. But should he?
Lets be honest, the only reason Crash Bandicoot would make is a comeback is for the sole reason that it would make money of the nostalgic audience. It would only exist so that people like me would be willing to shell out for it, presumably also being a game exclusive to either mobiles or the PS vita. It wouldn’t be a the mega franchise hit that it was back in the day. It just can’t capture the same magic twice, not when there are other games that are showcasing how great the modern technology is. It’d be rather embarrassing, like a reboot of your favourite show that doesn’t really capture the beauty of the original. It’d be a rather disappointing disaster. So in a way it’s better for Crash Bandicoot to stay in our memory. Get a re-release, sure, but no new games. Better to keep what we already have than attempt something new and fail. Perhaps a controversial opinion, but one I stand by nonetheless.
So there you have it, my look at the Crash Bandicoot franchise. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.