Crash is nearly here!!

Finally we have hit that important month, the month where the end of it is going to bring an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia to PlayStation owners worldwide. The 27th of June marks the release of one of the most anticipated remastered titles ever, Crash Bandicoot is going to make a very welcome transition to PS4 in the form of his original 3 adventures from his PSone days. I owe a lot of my love for gaming to Crash, as a youngster he was one of my very first games on my PlayStation, I couldn’t get enough of the loveable bandicoot. I found him to be charming in his own strange way beyond words, the orange fur, those blue shorts, the insanely big eyebrows. 

Crash made an impact upon becoming one of the play stations biggest ever mascots.I have been waiting for a new Crash game for years, yet I was beginning to lose hope, I was beginning to think that perhaps there was no way back for our furry friend, that he had been lost amongst all the new heroes paving their way into games and our hearts. But at E3 last year my dreams were made a reality as Sony walked onto the stage with a shadow of the one and only Crash Bandicoot, when that music started playing I completely lost it! I felt like a kid again, god knows how I am going to feel upon actually gripping my controllers controlling Crash through those island levels once again, to ride a hog through one of the best Crash levels ever HOG WILD! Oh and I have to give a small shoutout to another one of my favourite ever levels, Tomb Waider in Crash 3 Warped, it was so much fun going through a tomb in ancient egypt avoiding the mummies, beetles and rising water, the fact that it pays tribute to another PlayStation icon Lara Croft is just the icing on the cake. Having the opportunity to go back through these amazing levels with enhanced graphics in 4K is nothing short of brilliant.

I’m sure it’s not just me that is feeling the effects of nostalgia at the thought of reliving three fun adventures with a nice variation in levels, ranging from the different environments to the different types, for example riding a polar bear in Crash 2 to swimming under water in Crash 3. That’s something that naughty dog got absolutely spot on, the variety in levels helped to keep the games fresh, to keep them from becoming too same old. It is that very variety that is going to make those 3 journeys a joy to experience again, I predict all three to be finished by me in just one weekend, perhaps one day if I can give myself the whole day to relive my childhood. I make a promise to myself now that I will platinum those games (even if it will take me a year…).

I’ll tell you something else I am hoping to come from this release, a Spyro the dragon remastered trilogy, the second Spyro game is one of my all time favourites, the entire experience was fantastic and it was followed by an equally epic game in the form of year of the dragon, I still remember those areas where I could ride a skateboard, a dragon on a skateboard need I say more. While I do give an edge to Crash, Spyro is another video game legend that deserves his first 3 adventures to become immortalised with a graphical overhaul. Just like with Crash there are several different characters from Spyro that brought something to the table, hunter was always one of my favourites and I’d be just as excited to see him in 4K as I would Spyro. Honestly I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was already in the works, just being kept under wraps for now. I think with the anticipation and hype that crash has received it would be safe to say that our favourite dragon would receive a similar welcome. I have a feeling that this could pave the way for other trilogies besides Spyro, Sly Cooper for example. I know he made his debut on the PS2 and those got an overhaul for the PS3 but again I find myself thinking about just how amazing his first 3 adventures would be capable of looking like with today’s graphics, Sly has also always been very popular I’m sure there are plenty of die hard fans who would pick up the original trilogy again for PS4. The Ratchet and Clank remastered game was a huge success proving that there is still a place for the PS2 legends.

While this could be me maintaining hopes of a further miracle I would love to see a remastered version Crash Team Racing, one of the best racing games ever for me. It was so much fun, even now I can still turn to my PSone throw the disc in and race to my heart contents. I know many people would consider Mario Kart to be their favourite racing game besides those die hard racing fans that would play Forza, but for me personally I prefer the Crash Bandicoot universe, I prefer the diverse characters that Crash has to offer. The fact that I am able to drive a kart as a cute little Polar bear is a welcome bonus, see I didn’t simply play as Crash, no, I enjoyed playing through as the various different characters. I enjoyed the various different boss races, I can only imaging how stunning those race tracks would be capable of looking should they get 4K treatment the first 3 games have received. The battle mode of this game was a lot of fun and could be played with up to 4 players, just imagine having that battle mode online today, it would have a lot of potential. I for one would love to get behind the wheel and take on a lot more than just 3 other people in an arena where I could shoot rockets and bombs at them.

What about you guys, are you excited for Crash’s return? Are there any games that you believe could be in with a chance of being remastered? I will be back with a full review on each of the games following their release at the end of the month
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Crash through the years, 1998

Here we are, my favourite game in the whole of the Crash Bandicoot franchise. Crash Bandicoot Warped. The year is 1998, by this point Crash has had two games released in the previous two years, so we all knew what to expect from Warped. It was set to be another platformer where we needed to collect 25 crystals in order to stop the evil scheme of Dr Neo Cortex, after 2 games of us fighting Cortex by the time Warped hit I think it would be fair to say that we were all accustomed to the concept of these games. Having said that, Crash Warped did throw a curveball as I wasn’t expecting the third game to become my favourite, Cortex strikes back managed to improve upon an already amazing game so surely Warped wouldn’t be able to surpass that. Naughty Dog knew what they were doing, it’s rather rare that the games get better throughout a franchise, usually the first game is widely seen as being the best or not all sequels meet the expectations the previous titles gave us.

This game follows on directly from Crash 2, after having destroyed the Cortex Vortex it crashes, and it happens to crash into the prison of Uka Uka the evil twin brother Aku Aku. Finally the odds are somewhat evened for Cortex as he now has his own mask helping him too. Part of the reason I love this game so much is that it involves time travel, to gather the crystals we have to travel back in time to various different times in history, Medieval,  prehistoric, Roman, these are just a few examples of the different periods of history we find ourselves in.

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Just putting this out there but I have to admit I am team Uka Uka he is a better character than his good twin brother, everything about Aku Aku screams boring where as Uka UKa is an amusing character with a broader personality as opposed to Crash’s guardian.

I need to take a moment to show some appreciation to my favourite level from not just this game but the franchise as a whole. Orient Express was a joy to play, considering I would love to go to the great wall of China this level is as close as I am going to get for a long time. This is the first level in which we play as Coco, after her introduction in the second game I felt like this was a great step forward, she was no longer just Crash’s intelligent little sister she was now a hero in her own right. Oh and this was the first time we met Pura, he is Coco’s pet, a rather adorable tiger cub thus giving us the conflict of who do you prefer, Polar or Pura? As much as I like tigers, I have also had a slight fascination for Polar bears giving Polar the victory in my eyes but only just.

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Coco has more levels than just the Orient Express, she also rides a jet ski in two separate levels, the most impressive Coco moment for me though is her boss fight against Dr N Gin. Coco didn’t just start to get her hands dirty by gathering several crystals, she actually took on a boss for Crash too! The boss fight was a good one, it could be considered to be one of the best ones from the trilogy, flying a space ship shooting wumpa fruit at N Gins robot was entertaining. The fight itself wasn’t the easiest of fights either, the health bar for N Gin was longer than every other boss in the game including Cortex.

Now that I have given Coco the credit that she deserves it’s time to move our attention back to our main furry hero. Travelling through many periods of time Crash, runs from dinosaurs, rides a motorbike, journeys through the tombs of ancient Egypt, on of these levels happens to be called Tomb Wader paying tribute to the legendary Lara Croft. The charm from the previous two games shines through more than ever in Warped not just in the gameplay and its environments but the other characters as well. Tiny was waiting for Crash inside the Roman colosseum, the new character known as Dingodile was waiting for us in the ice age. Watching that little penguin jumping on Dingodile after his defeat was rather amusing. Dr Tropy was an interesting character, it was all down to him that the time traveling from this game was made possible.

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Crash you have impressed me more and more with each passing game, you have officially spun and jumped your way through time now.

Naughty Dog this was an amazing closing chapter to your Crash Bandicoot trilogy, once again I find myself discussing the levels of this game, I don’t think there was a single level that I didn’t enjoy, they held on to the aspects that have helped to make Crash great but they also brought their own unique spin to the already established franchise. Swimming underwater was an unexpected addition, I knew I was going to be chased by something at some point, a dinosaur chasing Crash was ingenious, this was a game about time travel Naughty Dog couldn’t have chosen what was to chase Crash any better than that.  Giving Crash abilities after every boss fight was a much needed addition to this game, eventually we got a bazooka, I loved that thing, forget being able to run fast and double jump I could finally shoot my enemies with wumpa fruit as and when I pleased.

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Although this was the end of the trilogy created by Naughty Dog they still had one more game that they were yet to release. Join me next time as we travel into the year 1999 for the biggest racing event of the 1990s Crash Team Racing.

Crash through the years, 1997

Let’s go back to 1997, the year Crash Bandicoot appeared on our PlayStations for the second time. Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back was once again a platformer, with plenty of fun environments in which the levels took place, as the title suggests we were once again to fight Cortex, to prevent him from destroying the world through the collection of crystals once again. Before we begin I would like to take a moment to say well done to Naughty Dog, they created a sequel that not only did its predecessor justice but in some ways it actually improved upon the PlayStation classic.

Let’s begin with the characters since they are a huge part of what gives Crash 2 its wacky charm. We’ll get the obvious out of the way, Crash was as amazing as ever, his dance that he performed after getting a gem was simply amazing! One of the best celebratory dances I have ever seen in a video game, he was so proud of himself, good on you Crash cause getting those gems could be a real pain. I wonder if he did that dance when he met his younger sister CoCo, that’s right Crash Bandicoot became a big brother somewhere in that year between his games. CoCo Bandicoot was a welcomed addiction to the franchise, it was clear from the get go that she was intelligent, she could actually speak for a start, the beginning of the game was Crash going to find a battery for CoCos laptop, there was no doubt that she was going to prove to be an asset to her big brother. This sequel introduced a couple of my favourite ever characters, Polar, as the name suggests he is a polar bear cub and he is absolutely adorable seriously I want him! He was such a nice addition to the game due to the levels that you got to use him for, you get to ride Polar for a few levels including one that involves you being chased by a huge angry, scary Polar Bear. Polar also gives you roughly 10 lives if you keep jumping on his head in the warped room though he does look a little worse for wear.

Next is one of my favourite ever bosses from the whole of Crash Bandicoot, Tiny. Crash 2 is the very first time we see him, the fight itself was simple just jump around the platforms and wait for them to drop with Tiny on one, of course Tiny isn’t exactly a major character yet but since I am a fan on Tiny his first appearance for me is great none the less. While I am on the subject of bosses now might be the time to mention the Komodo Brothers who were created by Dr Nitrus Brio as this was their first appearance too and their only appearance as a pair really with cameos being spotted in following games these are only pictures found in different levels across the franchise. One of the brothers however is a boss in Crash Team Racing which I will come to in a later post as I cover all the Crash Bandicoot games, now the fighting the brothers was easy, seeing Komodo Dragons wielding daggers was imaginative though. Ripper Roo as ever was nuts! At the start of the fight we see him sitting behind as desk as if he is a professor….scary thought, he has also decided to grow blonde hair and moustache, looking good Roo looking good. As is the norm with Ripper Roo we have to use nitro carts to stun him followed by the spin attack, Ripper Roo you really should stay away from TNT and Nitro carts.  Cortex has a new lackey for this game since Dr Nitrus Brio doesn’t seem to be in agreement with him, instead Brio actually wants Crash to gather the gems so that he can destroy the Cortex Vortex, clearly the two doctors has a somewhat messy break up after the first game. The new sidekick to Cortex is Dr N Gin who happens to have a rocket lodged in his head, I guess that’s a good enough explanation as to why he’s insane. N Gin is a doctor that seems to love robotics, he is controlling a robot in the boss fight you have with him, finally it has given us another use for wumpa fruit besides getting lives from them, you have to throw the wumpa fruit at various parts of the robot to blow it up, yeah a robot got destroyed by fruit, I think you need to go back to the drawing board Doc.

Cortex I will hand it to you, I mean you did act like the nice guy to Crash for most of the game you even fooled him for a while. Make no mistake though, you didn’t fool me and you most certainly didn’t fool CoCo, she was trying to warn Crash for most of the game finally getting the message through to him just before the end, that had to suck for you. Pretending to be nice to Crash well that had to be draining. It didn’t help that the final boss fight could be considered one of the easiest fights ever, being in space for the fight was innovative though. Maybe you should have been nicer to Brio, you still might not have won but the Cortex Vortex would still be standing, well floating.

Cortex Strikes Back featured some new innovative levels that were fun to play, there were some old favourites from the first game making a comeback such as being chased by a boulder, I loved Boulder Dash in Crash Bandicoot and I certainly love Crash Dash from this game, the rolling stones also made a return in various different levels throughout the game but lets talk about what was new in this game. So in the previous year we had a couple of levels where we were travelling upstream, now those were some fun levels, this game however introduced a jet board for part of the stream levels. That’s right you actually got to ride a jet board downstream, it was a fun addition it helped to keep the game fresh, to give the game its own innovative ideas rather than being a solid copy of the first game which was common place with platformers back in the 1990s. As I mentioned earlier we had the introduction of Polar, while we may have had 2 levels featuring us riding a hog in 1996 being able to ride Polar through the snowy ice filled environments was so much more entertaining, trying to avoid the penguins, orcas and giant Polar Bears was a more entertaining challenge, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy hog wild, rather that Crash 2 made the improvements it needed to make to live up to its previous title.

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The secrets in this game were a lot more elusive, meaning it was more challenging to 100% the game, in order to collect every gem in the game you needed to get a certain spot in certain levels to be taken to a secret warp room that not only gave you access to secret levels but it actually gave you access to different areas within levels that you had already completed so that you could collect the coloured gem that is hidden, or hard to reach. I thought that this was a nice touch, the previous game did provide a reasonable challenge to 100% the game, I wouldn’t say it was easy to collect all the gems in Crash Bandicoot. Naughty Dog did up the ante in Cortex Strikes Back, if you wanted to 100% this game you needed to either be smart and somehow figure out where you needed to be, get lucky or quite simply use the internet, if I’m being honest my guess is that a lot of people used the internet to 100% finish this game.

This was 1997, it was a great year for Crash he became a big brother, he got an adorable pet, he defeated some pretty game competition and of course he foiled Cortex’s plans again. He even teamed up with Dr Nitrus Brio one of the main antagonists from 1996. Words cannot describe how excited I am to jump forward another year into 1998, Crash Bandicoot Warped is my favourite Bandicoot game, CoCo gets a pet, Cortex gets a mask and Crash gets to travel through time!

Crash through the years, 1996

Now that we can officially say Crash Bandicoot the N Sanity trilogy is coming out this year! I figured now was a game time to look at Crash through the years, from his first game in 1996 to present day. 

1996 was a magical year for gaming, especially for the PlayStation, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider graced our screens for the first time. Of course my point of interest here is that Crash Bandicoot was also released that year.

When I hear that music hit I just can’t help the smile that forms across my face, I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about, that iconic theme that signals the beginning of a great adventure! Crash Bandicoot was the very first game I played on my PlayStation so he holds a very special place in my heart, Crash is the most nostalgic game possible for me, sure there are other games that could give me that nostalgic effect but he helped to shape my childhood gaming memories, he was on posters on my wall. Better yet he was sat right on my bed to protect me from the nightmares of my childhood. 

The platform genre had been utilised for years on Nintendo and Sega, in that respect the Crash Bandicoot game wasn’t anything new, but just because it didn’t help create a genre that doesn’t mean it didn’t help to define a genre. What made this platformer so great was the levels, they were different, it didn’t feel too samey or rather not so repetitive, something that the franchise has managed to maintain over the years. Crash goes from running on the beach to being chased by boulders, riding a hog, travelling through ruins, going down streams and fighting various different bosses. I can still name now some of my favourite levels or maybe they just stand out for sheer annoyance and difficulty, Hog Wild was my favourite but I feel I should give mention to the road to nowhere since that game me the most trouble when I was a kid.

The other characters of Crash Bandicoot weren’t too inferior to Crash, admittedly some of my favourite characters didn’t come into existence till later on but that doesn’t take anything away from Ripper Roo, papu and Dr Neo Cortex. Honestly Cortex is a contender for one of my favourite ever villains, it’s rare that I feel sorry for the bad guy but I have a certain level of sympathy for Cortex, his own creation keeps messing up his plans with the help of a mask, a bit unfair when Cortex didn’t get Uga Uga till Crash Bandicoot Warped but Crash always had Aku Aku.  If he’s lucky maybe I’ll give Cortex a little post of his own…

Anyway back to the star of our show, Crash is a fun character, that’s part of why he became an immediate icon for PlayStation. Controlling a Bandicoot that loves wumpa fruit, breaking boxes and spinning into enemies all to save his girlfriend (or simply his female Bandicoot friend) is kind of nuts. Yo Crash you were free buddy you didn’t have to become a huge pain to Cortex did you? You could have taken your Wumpa fruit to any beach you wanted. Thank god he didn’t though, otherwise some of my fondest memories wouldn’t exist.

Even today I could plug in my PSone and crab my copy of Crash Bandicoot and binge through it in a matter of hours, if the trilogy wasn’t being remastered I would still have time for the orange furball, there is a certain charm to these games that I feel games from today fail to capture as well as our lovable Bandicoot, don’t forget this was just the first instalment, there was more unique charm to come in the following games.

Naughty Dog you really did an amazing job, with the first instalment of your legendary trilogy. It was a great introduction for one of the most loved iconic characters of all time and that’s not just for PlayStation.

Next the year is 1997, a certain little polar bear came into existence and Crash became a big brother! Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex strikes back is next.

Welcome back Crash, our furry hero!

Since we are nearing the end of 2016 I thought now would be a good time to look forward to 2017, a year that’s set to be another extraordinary year for gamers worldwide. Of course we have resident evil 7, Nioh, For Honor, Horizon Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda all by the end of March! All of these games are reason alone to be excited for 2017 and all of them will no doubt have their own posts from me in the future.

But as the title suggests I want to talk about the lovable bandicoot that stole the hearts of many back in 1996. Crash Bandicoot helped to define a generation of gaming, he’s still one of Sonys main mascots, he was the baby of Naughty Dog until they decided to work through Sony alone without Universal Studios. A decision that has brought us Jak, Uncharted and The Last of Us all of which are hugely recognised games. 

The crash games are easily one of the most recognisable franchises of all time spanning across an insane amount of not just main instalments but other instalments such as Crash Bash and Crash Boom Bang both of which are classed as party games. Crash also boasts a trilogy of fun racing games, that were exciting for the time of their releases. You know what though the Crash were not just great because of the main protagonist but they were great because of a vast array of characters including the primary antagonist Dr Neo Cortex, then there was the introduction of his sister Coco in Crash 2 Cortex strikes back and the introduction of his brother crunch in The Wrath of Cortex. The bosses such as Tiny and Dingodile were also fun and intriguing, then Pura an Polar Coco and Crashs pets respectively were just simply adorable, in fact one of my favourite levels of all time involves Coco riding Pura across the Great Wall of China! 2017 is set to be an incredible year for fans of this fury hero as they will see his original trilogy make a come back to the PS4 having been fully remastered, we can even see Crashs fur thanks to today’s graphics! The games levels themselves have had a complete overhaul keeping them the same as they were when we first played them but giving them the prettier look of today’s games.

Crash Bandicoot was the very first game I played when I got my first PlayStation and I fell in love straight away, Crash and co certainly have a special place in my heart. The level designs were great with it never feeling too repetitive due to the different environments the levels took place in and it was a fun platformer with every gamer that owned a PlayStation playing it. Crash was relevant back in 1996, he was fresh and he was new, ultimately springing him to iconic video game status. But there is key question that has been asked since the remastered trilogy was announced, will Crash still be relevant in 2017? While this is in my mind a fair question I also believe in my mind that the answer is simple, yes he will remain relevant. Crash the N sanity trilogy brings with it a huge nostalgic effect for millions of gamers and for the younger generation of gamers they are finally going to get to play the video game phenomenon that defined a generation of gaming. I don’t think that games like Crash Bandicoot can ever really become dated, just like the remastered version of Resident Evil. Resident evil helped to define the same generation of gaming that Crash did and people went crazy to play through that horrifying mansion all over again.

Unfortunately there is no set release date yet but we do know that 2017 is definitely the year of crashs comeback, if I had to have a guess I’d say that we will be guiding Crash through those 3 islands by the summer if not some time during spring. But one thing is for sure, when Crash does hit the shelves for the PS4 I will be there and I will be eating all the wumpa fruit whilst avoiding falling to my death down a never ending hole. Crash Bandicoot is just one reason to be excited for 2017, there are plenty of other games set to hit the shelves next year as I mentioned earlier.

With the release of the remastered Crash trilogy it paves the way for other potential remastered games such as the Spyro trilogy should Crash captivate audiences like he did 20 years ago.