For a while now, rumors have been circulating that Sony is working on a new Crash Bandicoot game. There’s one major problem with this though…as of right now, Activision officially owns the IP. According to some cyber sleuthing though, that may not be the case anymore…or at least Activision may be preparing to sell the license. This article isn’t about the logistics behind getting a new Crash Bandicoot game made, though.
Now let’s be clear up front that I’d love a return to the Wumpa Islands. Crash Bandicoot 1-3 are some of my favorite games of all time and they get played pretty often in my house. With that said, the series’ gameplay elements are decidedly part of a bygone era. While the mechanics were always tight and the characters always charming, Crash Bandicoot games are no longer aligned with an industry pushing for more open worlds and richer storytelling. So if Crash is to make his triumphant return, one question has to be answered first…
What is a Crash Bandicoot game in 2016?
Assuming it would be a large-budget game, there are a couple of different styles that Crash Bandicoot could adopt in the modern era. One of the more popular ideas would be to take the series into a more open world setting, something along the lines of Jak & Daxter, Banjo Kazooie, or Mario 64. While this is certainly an option that could work well, it’s not something that makes much sense to me. Crash Bandicoot games were always very linear. Each level felt like its own thing, designed in a vacuum to be a fantastic experience start to finish. I’ve always thought that was something Naughty Dog’s Crash games did extremely well and I’d hate to see that go away.
Ratchet & Clank is another game to look towards for inspiration. The 2016 series reboot was a fantastic achievement, hopefully showing the industry that AAA mascot games are still viable in this industry. To accurately adopt Ratchet‘s gameplay though, Crash would have to undergo some serious changes. Ratchet & Clank is more shooter than platformer and its newest iteration is constantly showing off with just how much is going on around you. While Crash Bandicoot‘s art style and characters could certainly lend themselves to such a format, the addition of weapons necessary to use this sort of gameplay would require a pretty significant departure from what the PSone titles were all about…platforming. So what does a 3D action platformer look like in 2016 if not open world and packed with weapons?
Super Mario 3D World.
With incredible critical reception and rich mechanical depth, Super Mario 3D World is a game the industry should be looking at for inspiration to showcase a myriad of platforming mascots tossed by the wayside. Crash Bandicoot would be a perfect start to the revolution.
While people mostly remember the camera following behind Crash at all times, there were other segments closer to a typical 2D platformer side-view but controlled in 3D space. With its isometric camera angles, Super Mario 3D World mostly lives somewhere in the dichotomy of these two perspectives.
3D World also aligns well with Crash Bandicoot in so much as both games are relatively light on weapons. Where some action mascots like Jak and Ratchet rely heavily on a bevy of interesting firearms, 3D World shows what a game can do with a small set of finely honed platforming mechanics. By taking a small set of power ups and using them in interesting ways throughout the game, 3D World is a shining example that simplicity is still king when making an excellent platforming game.
I’m not saying that Crash Bandicoot should just make a Super Mario 3D World clone if rebooted, but just thinking about a Wumpa Islands hub world done up like 3D World‘s gets me super excited for what the game could be. After adopting the live hub world, I’d love to see a developer incorporate franchise staples like hog-riding, boulder chases, and motorcycles into specific levels. The early Crash Bandicoot games were actually based on a similar hub world concept and, in the end, it probably leads to a game similar to the PSone classics but with an expanded sense of scale.
Really, that’s the most important thing. 3D World is a great example to me because it holds true to the linearity of early Crash Bandicoot games while providing a huge variety in level design…and ultimately, isn’t that what Crash fans really want? A return to basics for their fallen hero with an emphasis on mechanics and level design?
It’s certainly what I’m hoping for if these rumors come true.