Crash Bandicoot was first released on the PlayStation in 1996 and represents an era in gaming that might not ever be replicated. It was the first notable release from developer Naughty Dog, and has spent more time dormant than active despite its large association with PlayStation as both mascot and assumed property. Crash Bandicoot and its two Naughty Dog-developed sequels are due for a release later this year, remastered by Vicarious Visions in the Skylanders: Imaginators engine.
This month’s cover story is about nostalgia, but not only remembering for the sake of remembering, but to take that thing forward to create something new from it. January is about the new beginnings from old experiences, and with Crash ready for a return later this year, what better time to highlight the spinning tornado of orange that debuted twenty years ago.
Crash Bandicoot was the mascot that Playstation needed back in 1996. The first game of the franchise was officially released on September 9th, 1996. While I have gone back to it since, my first experience with the series was with Crash Bandicoot 3. I remember Crash as the first 3D-platformer that I had ever played. It was this quirky yet fast paced action platformer that I didn’t fully appreciate until I figured out Naughty Dog developed both Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot.
Naughty Dog made four Crash Bandicoot games during the PS1 era. These games were Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, and Crash Team Racing. The fourth game is the surprise of the bunch because Naughty Dog had only signed on with Sony to make three games through a deal with Universal Interactive Studios. Today, we know Naughty Dog as one of the best developers in the business, but it took a showdown with Super Mario 64 to get us there.
Naughty Dog was in for a competition of mascots that it didn’t see coming. Crash Bandicoot was planned to see the public eye for the first at E3 1996. However, that was the same show where Nintendo provided the first look at Super Mario 64. While Mario grabbed the eyes and attention of many people, Crash had something Mario didn’t: graphical power. Developers at Naughty Dog thought Mario 64 was rad, but they believed that they had more horsepower in the engine when it came to graphics and draw distances.
Crash Bandicoot became an early success for the PlayStation and for a western developer. It was important as Sony was beginning its foray into the world of video game development, directly competing with Nintendo after a dropped deal to manufacture the Super NES CD-ROM. Not only did this game become a success, but it gave birth to the new mascot of Playstation, replacing the Polygon Man. It would immediately ask for a sequel from Naughty Dog and Universal. Despite some disruption from within the studio and from Universal, Crash 2 was made and released on October 31st, 1997.