Crash and Coco from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back.

Bandicoot Power: The Reemergence of Crash Bandicoot

By Brittany Anderson
Web Content Contributor

There’s nothing quite as soothing to a ‘90s baby’s nostalgia-soaked soul than a complete update of their favorite PlayStation 1 video game, reworked with high definition graphics, remastered music and the same lovable characters and adventures. Games that they thought were lost forever, so they’ve held onto the same scratched up discs for a couple decades now.

Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Team Racing.
Three classic Crash Bandicoot games. Photo by Brittany Anderson.

The Crash Bandicoot franchise is a cult classic in the world of video games. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of Crash, here’s a quick rundown.

The titular character, Crash Bandicoot, is a genetically enhanced mutant bandicoot, the result of a science experiment by his now arch-nemesis Doctor Neo Cortex. Within the story, there are tons of supporting characters like Coco, Crash’s sister; Doctor N. Gin, Cortex’s assistant; and Aku Aku, a witch doctor in the form of a floating wooden mask who looks after Crash and Coco.

There is no set location: the game levels transport you back to medieval times, an Aladdin-esque Egypt and a galactic future, to name a few. Or, you might find yourself in a mossy forest, metal-clad sewer or frigid Arctic landscape. The main objective is to travel through the levels by collecting crystals, gems and relics, and beat evil bosses like Cortex.

In 2016, Sony announced that they would be partnering with Activision to issue a collection of remakes of the first three Crash Bandicoot games: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back and Warped. In June 2017, the N. Sane Trilogy, consisting of all three of these games, was released on PlayStation 4, with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions coming a year later in June 2018. They also re-released 1999’s Crash Team Racing earlier this summer.

Turtle Woods from Cortex Strikes Back.
The first level of Cortex Strikes Back called Turtle Woods from the original PlayStation 1 game. Photo by Brittany Anderson.
Turtle Woods, one of the exotic-looking levels.
The new and improved Turtle Woods level on the Xbox. Photo by Brittany Anderson.

The updated versions have beautifully built upon what made the original Crash games so special. The vivid color palettes, ambient soundtracks and lush, detailed environments that proved to be ahead of its time for the ‘90s look, sound and feel even better in the 21st century. Crash’s notable quick, sharp and precise movements are enhanced with the new HD graphics, offering a truly satisfying gaming experience.

Hang Eight, one of the swampy water levels.
The new and improved Hang Eight level on the Xbox. Photo by Brittany Anderson.
Hang Eight from Cortex strikes back.
The third level of Cortex Strikes Back called Hang Eight, from the original PlayStation 1 game. Photo by Brittany Anderson.

What’s important to remember about this franchise is that at their core, the games are meant to not make sense: it’s about a blue jean-wearing bandicoot and his talking mask traveling through time to collect crystals before a mad scientist in space can get to them. This feeling of “insanity” perpetuated in the gameplay gives off an energy unlike any other.

Of course, storytelling is an important component to any video game. Crash does it differently, though— with a huge focus on the actual gameplay, the player has the ability to become part of Crash’s world without getting bogged down by the storyline’s details or too much dialogue. A huge part of the game is interacting with the environment; each level provides an eccentric experience.

Crash Bandicoot has proved itself to be a timeless and iconic piece of entertainment, and one of the best game franchises to come out of the ‘90s. Of course, nothing— not even the sharp colors, new features or updated sound bites— will ever truly replace the original games, or the experience of playing them for the first time. But thanks to these re-releases, an older generation of Crash fans who look back on these games with pixelated memories can find common ground with a new generation of players as they come to appreciate the franchise in a new light.

If you’re a long-time Crash lover or interested in knowing more about this franchise, check out this video essay by Javed Sterritt from June 2016. He highlights what has made these games so classically loveable, and was actually acknowledged by Naughty Dog, the creators of Crash.

Featured image by BagoGames via Flickr.

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