I played quite a few video games prior to the original PlayStation’s era, but it was only in the late 90s that video games really grabbed me. The larger worlds, the 3D graphics, the then modern video game design and wonderful new characters were all more than enough to suck me into the universe of games, and to this day it still hasn’t released me from its grasp.
One of the characters that 12 year-old me loved so much was Crash Bandicoot, and it’s this series which goes under the spotlight for this week’s WeView Retro. I had brief memories of playing the original Crash and Crash 2, but it was Crash Bandicoot: Warped that really pulled me into that macrocosm and kept me busy for days on end. I remember thinking I had to have every gem, crystal and relic on offer, and while I don’t think I ever actually got all of them, the journey to completion kept me happily busy for a long time.
I think the aspect of Warped that stuck with me the most was the variety of levels and tasks. Crash and Coco were traveling through time in Warped, which visiting a different time period regularly. You start in what I assume was meant to be medieval times and travel back and forth, going as far back as pre-historic times before springing forward to beyond the 20th century in the futuristic levels, with a few other stops in between.
That kind of variety didn’t stop at the aesthetics, but extended well into gameplay elements. One minute you were bouncing around on top of boxes and spinning your way through enemies on foot, and the next had you racing across water on a jet-ski, or cruising down the highway on a motorcycle. If that wasn’t enough, you also got to ride a tiger cub and a dinosaur, and take to the skies in a fighter plane. All of it was more than enough to keep pre-teen Matt occupied for days.
At the center of all of this was, of course, a master villain. If you played the first two Crash games you were already pretty familiar with Neo Cortex, but this time he came with a sidekick. That sidekick also looked slightly familiar, as it was Uka Uka, the brother of Aku Aku, the friendly mask spirit that follows Crash around. With the help of Uka Uka, Cortex felt more than capable of defeating that pesky Bandicoot, especially with a slew of additional bosses that included a bouncing tiger with a pitchfork, a half-crocodile half-dingo with a bad attitude and a flamethrower, as well as Dr. N Gin, a mad scientist with a little something sticking out of his head.
Naughty Dog weren’t quite as well known back in the 90’s as they are today, but some of their staple production values and tricks were already on display during this time. For example, I can remember at least one instance of a chase sequence that had Crash running at the camera while something large followed close behind. Fast forward to a similar sequence in the more modern Uncharted games and they seem almost eerily similar. Playing that same sequence in Crash today might not have the same effect as it did back then, but I vividly remember gripping my controller as I raced to the end of the chase, avoiding obstacles and staying just out the jaws of a rather large dinosaur.
Now that I’ve gushed about how much I loved that furry little Bandicoot, it’s time for you to weigh in. Though I spent the majority of my time on Crash Bandicoot: Warped, we’d like to get your opinions on any and all of the first three Crash games. You can talk about the first three games as a whole if you have similar opinions of them, or you can break them down one by one and pick out your favourite with our new Retro WeView rating system: Must Play, Should Play, Watch a Let’s Play, or Don’t Play.