Day 166: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

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Guys, Crash Bandicoot is going to be a Skylander!

Yeah… I don’t care either.

Now that the public-facing segment of E3 is mostly over, we all have a better sense of what the near-future brings. Sony in particular had a very games-focused presentation, which is typically never a bad thing, though it was probably a little too AAA for my liking. In particular, I’ve grown quite tired of post-apocalypic settings as a rule, but perhaps that’s another post for another day. Seemingly tucked between all of the more-noteworthy segments was the announcement of a new Crash Bandicoot… well, the old Crash Bandicoots again, in “remastered” form. It’s not exactly the return to form that we’d all hoped for, but it’s something, though if I never heard the word “remaster” again I could die a happy man.

Here’s the thing. I’m a huge Crash Bandicoot fan. You probably didn’t even think such a thing existed, but here I am. Dare I say, I’m a Crash Bandicoot apologist, still defending the honor of those classic original games to this day. Theoretically, I’m the target audience for such a rerelease, but I find myself unmoved. I understand the benefits to the consumer for rereleasing older content for modern platforms, but I also understand that they’re typically made because, well, free money. In the current climate, no one was going to front the cost of a new, modern take on Crash Bandicoot. Maybe that’s a good thing. It would have been a gritty reboot, simply titled “Crash”, set in a zombie-infested future. Also, for some reason, Crash has a beard and is teaching his son how to hunt.

I don’t know what the new/old Crash will look like. Judging from the Skylanders footage, he may end up as some sort of maladjusted plushy doll, but I do know that the games were designed around the limitations of the original Playstation. Revisiting Crash 2 this morning, you can see the design shortcuts that were necessary for the time. That doesn’t mean it was “inferior”, and I think that’s a common mistake we make, assuming games have evolved so much that certain conventions have no place anymore. Crash Bandicoot was a blocky mass of polygons, given life through his animation. Not to be hyperbolic, but it’s similar to the way a silent movie character had to be more pronounced in their movements because they didn’t have the luxury of sound. It was a product of the time and too often we associate that phrase with something negative. Creating under restriction has resulted in some of the best artwork of our lifetimes. Obviously, I’m not putting Crash into that category, but there’s something to be said for trying to put that genie back in the bottle, for trying to market a nostalgia that exists in a very particular place and time.

I suppose it’s a moot point. Activision isn’t going to pull aside one of their 15 Call of Duty studios to make a low-budget passion project about a long-forgotten Bandicoot, but at the same time, they don’t need to. The old games still exist, as the old games, and that will never change as long as we have people, mostly the pirates quite frankly, helping with game preservation, so that games don’t suddenly cease to exist or be important as soon as we stop marketing consoles that can play them anymore.

Crash Bandicoot was in some damn good video games. That fact doesn’t change decades later, even after we’ve turned him into a plushy.

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