Crash Bandicoot - How To Do Nostalgia Right?
For the past week I, along with many others, have enjoyed going back in time twenty years - a time when the most popular mascot for the PlayStation was a slightly crazy Bandicoot Crashing his way through three wonderful games. In lieu of a proper review - and that is coming soon - I wanted to explore why I am so enamored with the N. Sane Trilogy and whether or not it provides a recipe for future success for other seemingly have been franchises.
The 2000s were not a good time to be a genetically created Bandicoot. Naughty Dog had moved on to new things in the form of Jak & Daxter and Crash never reached the hefty heights of the late 90's. After Mind over Mutant failed to ignite that same fire in the series it just stopped. The once mighty mascot of the PlayStation was left for dead in a world that did not want him. Nostalgia has a funny way of making us miss the unwanted though...
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy may not be a new game per se, but good lord it feels fresh to play. A lot of people, your writer included, may have had a collective meltdown with the new difficulty of the games. As someone who regularly plays through the PS1 classics it was a shock to the system but eventually, I grew to like it - in between spouts of vicious swearing of course.
The Trilogy remake works because while it does not change much, everything feels fresh. The game definitely looks much better and the music and sound design has been remixed just enough to be familiar but still new. It leads to three games being just how we remember it - in HD and looking good.
The Crash games are great and honestly have aged pretty well - except the first but that's to be expected. Crash 2 - my personal favorite - and 3 - most people's favorite, it seems - are still great to play. It's just that now they're better to play. That's what makes the Trilogy work so well, it makes the games better without taking away anything. Adding little things like a box counter in Crash 1 & 2 and making it so you don't have to complete a level without dying in the first Crash make the game experience far more enjoyable for those of us who want to beat the game 100%. All this for what is a very reasonable price tag at around $30.
Now, the Trilogy is already a success but how to build on it? Crash's name is back in the limelight and it might be smart to capitalize on that with a new game. However, do they stick to the classic formula or do they try and do something a bit different - that's a question they will need to ask themselves. Crash started to fall from grace with Wrath of Cortex which was accused of not doing enough to differentiate from the old games. When they did try to change the formula it arguably made things even worse. Whatever is next for the world's favorite Bandicoot - I will definitely keep an eye on him.
Perhaps more interesting to publishers of classic 90s franchises is the fact Activision have a smash hit on their hands and perhaps it time to give old franchises a second chance. I would be surprised if a Spyro Trilogy did not happen after this since the two are destined to be linked to each other. Maybe we can trot out some other 90s platforming stars that did not make it to the new century. Gex, anyone? How about Croc? HA, we might even get a new Bubsy game how hilarious would that be and oh wait, they are actually making a new Bubsy game. Oh. Well, what could possibly go wrong?
When it comes to Bubsy...everything can possibly go wrong.
A lot of things but I was apprehensive about Crash's comeback and I was pleasantly surprised. 2017 is not everybody's idea of a good time to live in so a little 90s nostalgia can't hurt and I say bring as much of it back as we can. If nothing else, Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy shows that a little bit of polish can do wonders for forgotten idols.
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