Why The World Doesn’t Need Crash Bandicoot PS4
Even as Naughty Dog continues to release critically acclaimed games, there’s a sizable portion of fans of the developer’s output who, regardless of the fact that the company has since created the likes of The Last of Us, still want them to return to Crash Bandicoot.
Among the praise being heaped upon Uncharted 4, there’s also a great deal of excitement surrounding the (spoilers) appearance of Crash Bandicoot in the game, with a full level of the original PS1 game being playable in Naughty Dog’s latest release. Though Activision reportedly still owns the rights to the series, the former PlayStation mascot’s appearance in Uncharted 4 has led many to suspect that Sony has secretly acquired the franchise, though Sony’s Adam Boyes has stated that is not the case. Despite this, many have still become overwhelmingly excited by the prospect of a new Crash Bandicoot game existing just over the horizon. But the world doesn’t need to play a new Crash Bandicoot game, and you specifically don’t need to play a new Crash Bandicoot game, even if you think you do. Here’s why.
Naughty Dog should be busy making other, better games.
Even though Naughty Dog are one of the most renowned first-party developers in the industry, it really feels like they’re only beginning to hit their stride. The Last of Us was arguably the company’s greatest game thus far, while Uncharted 4 is being patted on the back for being a fitting send off for the series, before Naughty Dog moves on to bigger, perhaps better things. Crash Bandicoot is not a bigger, better thing.
The notion that there exists a group of people who reached the melancholic, affecting conclusion of The Last of Us, watched the end credits roll and then still somehow thought to themselves “so, when the fuck are we going to see Ripper Roo again?” is one that must wake up Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I’m all for developers diversifying their output, but not when it’s from this:
The creation of a video game is hardly a swift process, so if you want a Crash Bandicoot game developed by Naughty Dog you’re looking at years of time being taken out of the studio’s schedule, which could otherwise by spent on creating new experiences and not revisiting a ’90s platformer. Regardless of how desperate you are to see Crash riding bareback on a polar bear in 1080p/60fps, find it within your heart to accept that the majority won’t want to see this over a new Naughty Dog IP/The Last of Us 2.
The series’ creators wouldn’t be working on it.
The question that is most commonly lobbed in the direction of Neil Druckmann is more than likely “when are you making a new Crash Bandicoot?” It’s imaginable that when he returns home to wife and children after a hard day at the office, little Timmy Druckmann cautiously glances at his father across the dining table during supper, before asking feebly: “Papa, when are you going to make that orange dog game all the angry people want you to make?” Li’l Timmy refers to Crash as an orange dog because he is a child, you see, and only grown adults care about a new Crash Bandicoot game.
“Never, son,” Neil replies. “Papa didn’t work on the development of any Crash Bandicoot games; they were designed by Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin.”
“Oh,” says Timmy. “Where are those men? Why won’t they make the new orange dog game?”
“They’re dead, son,” Neil says solemnly.
Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin aren’t dead, of course – the former works for Oculus VR while the latter is now a novelist – but the repeated questioning regarding Crash Bandicoot has driven Neil mad. Unable to possibly fathom a world in which he could introduce Uncharted 2 and The Last of Us and still get asked about Crash fucking Bandicoot has turned his mind rotten.
“So why do these people still want the orange dog game if the people who first designed it wouldn’t be working it, and if you were actually partially responsible for the development of a notably better platforming series, Jak and Daxter? Why don’t they want another Jak and Daxter game, papa?”
“I don’t know, son,” Neil adds, tears now lining his cheeks. “I don’t know.“
Crash Bandicoot wasn’t that good anyway.
Crash Bandicoot is the perfect example of a game series that is better in hindsight. In a year that also saw the release of the hugely influential Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot‘s linear platforming through extremely narrow corridors of space seems like a backwards step in comparison. It’s no wonder that practically all future 3D platformers would adopt Mario’s take on the genre rather than Crash’s; Super Mario 64 inspired Banjo-Kazooie, while Crash Bandicoot led to the creation of Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase.
That’s not to say that the Crash Bandicoot franchise exclusively produced poor games – the first three entries in the series were good fun, before Naughty Dog passed over development duties to Traveller’s Tales and the series plummeted in value. But if the series were to be rejuvenated, it’d have to be notably different to have a meaningful impact upon a genre that has since seen the release of the likes of Super Mario Galaxy. It’d be very unlikely that those narrow corridors would make a reappearance, leading to a Crash Bandicoot that would probably take place in more open environments. Then there’s the issue of Ratchet & Clank‘s recent PS4 reboot having effectively put most other platformers to shame with its nigh-on Pixar level of visuals, both inside and out of its fully animated cutscenes, which also feature more charm and actual characterization than the vast majority of its platforming peers.
Sure, some people will argue that they’d want to play a Crash Bandicoot PS4 reboot with only the required graphical tweaks, but those people don’t know what they want. If they were handed a PS4 controller and told to guide Crash through those same corridors again, their initial indignant cries that the game “wasn’t so bad” would eventually be replaced with the realization that things that were good in 1996 aren’t necessarily still as good in 2016. It would be the platforming equivalent of those who argued the case for Duke Nukem Forever‘s existence, forcing grins on their faces during that mission where you can pick up a piece of poo and throw it around a room, confronted by the notion that despite their protestations that games were “better in the ’90s” that isn’t actually true whatsoever. Games are great now, and we should crave more great, new experiences rather than asking developers to wheel out the undead corpses of 20-year-old video game mascots.
Paul Tamburro is the Tech and Gaming Editor of Crave. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.