Long hailed as the craziest Bandicoot to ever spin onto the screen, Crash Bandicoot has stolen the hearts of gamers everywhere regardless of age or play history. Naughty Dog first conceptualized Crash as Willie the Wombat, but he soon evolved into the lovable, fearless mascot we see today. He’s raced for Wumpa Fruit in several games now, including his original N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, to name a few. Just recently, he whirled back onto gaming platforms with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Accompanied by both devious villains and spirited side characters, Crash has claimed his spot in our consoles for years to come!
For those who haven’t been keeping up with this super-charged marsupial, Crash has been on a host of adventures. In his first installment, the dastardly villain Dr. Neo Cortex wanted to create a genetically engineered animal to do his bidding and as he strove to—you guessed it—take over the world. Crash not only foils Cortex’s nefarious plan but also helps save his girlfriend and the animals. When Cortex returns in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, he may be out to save the world instead of doom it. Players discover whether Cortex is to be trusted or if it’s yet another fiendish experiment. But never fear because our favorite Bandicoot gets right back to his wild antics again in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped for a time-traveling adventure that sees all-new gameplay, free-roaming, and even a baby T-rex.
So, where do we stand with the story now?
Crash's fourth game, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, rocketed onto the scene in October 2020. Neo Cortex and Dr. N. Trope have escaped an interdimensional prison, and in the process, left an evil scientist-sized hole in the universe. They’re on a mission to conquer dimensions, and it’s up to Crash and his sister CoCo to save the multiverse in this direct sequel to the original trilogy!
Unarguably one of the best things about the Crash Bandicoot franchise is how it bridges generations through pure fun. The iconic character first appeared in 1996, and he has featured in regular installments since. This makes these games both fresh and nostalgic, a rare combination that’s seldom seen with the array of fresh new titles we’ve seen lately.
Not to mention, with a long-standing story such as this one, this fourth installment provides a fantastic opportunity to create new shared experiences with our loved ones. Crash Team Racing is an obvious go-to for team play, but let’s be honest; sometimes friendly competition can quickly turn into a volley of profanity that would make The Wolf of Wall Street blush, amiright?
Just me? Oh. Moving on, then...
The Crash games are more than just a good time. When my friend bought the N. Sane Trilogy for my mom, she took up the controller the first chance she got, and she's been playing religiously ever since. I’ve never seen her this happy with a game; while she has played a variety of titles like The Last of Us, MediEvil, and Ratchet & Clank, she adores this rich gameplay experience. It’s been her goal to fully complete every level before moving on to the next, and she’s poised to finish the first game soon. In fact, whenever she’s about to play, she always tells us she’s “going to CRASH!”
As a huge Uncharted fan myself, fellow gamers may know that Uncharted 4 has a portion where you can play Crash Bandicoot. With the interwoven history between these two games, it’s been so much fun being able to chat about the different levels she reaches, share Naughty Dog history, and marvel at how the developers have kept a few core elements of gameplay alive at the heart of their projects over the years. For instance, some similar stylistic choices are noticeable in the Uncharted games, such as the portion where Nathan Drake is running toward the camera away from oncoming danger. This vaguely mirrors the sequence of Crash we play in Uncharted 4, and it's somewhat replicated when Nathan and Elena are narrowly escaping explosions in the same game.
These are just a few examples of how this bright orange speed demon can bring all gamers together, and can also offer a lot of insight into how game structure and development has grown over the years while remaining true to its origins.
So, why is Crash so much fun? Well, without taking too much of a deep dive, there’s a host of psychological reasons these games are so addicting. For one, games with Crash Bandicoot’s structure appeal to our competitive nature. They are also vibrant and stylized, yet genuinely difficult. Ask any adult who ever picked up a controller thinking these were a "kid’s game" and couldn’t get past the first ten minutes. Gamers are encouraged to find gems, best their personal times, and more. Combine that with an unrelenting obstacle course and the knowledge that one mistake may have you starting over (sometimes from the very beginning), and you’ve got a nail-biting adventure.
In the mobile endless runner Crash Bandicoot: On the Run, a similar need to achieve a perfect dash also fuels the likes of Temple Run, Sonic Dash, and Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom. Plus, the Crash franchise reminds many gamers of their childhood because while the graphics, mechanics, and art has evolved, the essence and spirit of the character remain the same. It’s like a time portal you can plug into and escape for a while. Can you even imagine what would happen if Crash were like the movie Jumanji? (If you’ve never seen it, the TL;DR of it is that a mysterious and magical game has begun, and wild shenanigans ensue.)
Lastly, video gaming can also be very stress-relieving. According to Kabir Lal, the community manager at healthygamer.gg, "when we play a video game and enjoy it, our brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine." When this dopamine release occurs, it essentially helps us feel good. While I personally don’t consider highly action-packed games something I would call relaxing, I can certainly attest that they're exciting, and when I'm able to play my favorites, it makes for a fantastic afternoon. Besides, I always appreciate how they encourage increased attention to detail, precision, and perseverance. At the end of the day, if you love what you play and it inspires you to be the best you can be, it can certainly make a positive difference overall.
With all this creativity, joy, and science propelling him forward, our charismatic Crash is celebrating an entire quarter-century of smashing through every obstacle in his path! In a recent video, Toys for Bob discuss the franchise so far and also tease more information to come:
Avid fans may interpret the message at the end of this video to mean that while Activision hasn’t announced plans for another upcoming Crash Bandicoot title, Lodato might be hinting that may change. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time also includes the option to upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version for some gamers, with special instructions for those who own a disc copy.
Whether you've been playing Crash Bandicoot since his inception, are just jumping on board, or are such a huge fan that you routinely get lost in the Crash Bandicoot Reddit or the Original Game Soundtrack, it will always be a blast to crank up your console and spend a few hours running off the stress of the day. With a memorable cast of supporting characters, crisp new graphics, and butter-smooth controls, it's never been more fun to tornado through boxes, collect Wumpa Fruit, and try your hand at finding every Gem location possible. So, can we agree that no matter where you fit into the franchise, it's always time to CRASH!?
Have you played any of the Crash installments? How will you be celebrating his silver anniversary? Share your experiences in the comments!