Activision seemingly struck gold—obvious enough they could trip over it—but gold nonetheless when they released Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. It managed to stay true to the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy but provided a new coat of paint that older fans and new alike could enjoy. It revived a long want by the gaming community to bring back one of the greats of the original PlayStation era, and with it, a want for more. The speculations began, will they remake more of the games? Make a sequel? Or perhaps something entirely unexpected. Activision has yet to say what its future plans for the game are, but we do know that they are planning something. But with a franchise as cherished and old as the original Crash Bandicoot series, should it even be brought back with a new entry?
When people think of Crash Bandicoot they think of all the titles that were released on the original PlayStation. Naughty Dog (developer) was responsible for four Crash Bandicoot titles: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, Warped, and Crash Team Racing. After those games were released, Naughty Dog moved on from the franchise to begin work on Jak and Daxter. The titles that were soon to follow would all face an uphill battle in trying to recreate responses that the original games created by Naughty Dog received. Wrath of Cortex is the first title created after Naughty Dog that would be in the same vein, as the original series would receive decent reviews, but nothing like the original. The games that continued after that would be largely the same story, with some being slightly better, and with others being much, much worse. Looking at the series Metacritic scores paint the picture far more vibrantly:
- Huge Adventure – 78/100
- N-Tranced – 75/100
- Nitro Kart – 70/100
- Purple: Ripto’s Rampage 67/100
- Twinsanity 66/100
- Tag Team Racing 69/100
- Boom Bang! 37/100
- Crash of the Titans 70/100
- Mind over Mutant 73/100
Ever since Naughty Dog left the series, it’s been left in mediocrity; each title attempting to reach the same status as the originals, only to fall each and every time at doing so. So why bring the series back? Well, I am of the opinion that in this case, it should stay dead.
Nostalgia is a particularly powerful force, especially when it comes to consuming digital media. Many of us would love nothing more than to go back to those days of playing the original PlayStation Crash Bandicoot titles, but, that simply isn’t going to happen. The unfortunate truth is, that those days are long gone. When trying to capture that same essence of those previous games, that same feeling, that same experience, it simply won’t ever be the same. We have seen games try to attempt this in the past; Yooka-Laylee being the most notable title within the past few years that attempts to capture the same feeling as Banjo-Kazooie. In some respects, it did exactly that, but many others realized that having a title that is so set in the past in terms of design doesn’t exactly work in the present without the context of it being from the past.
People are willing to accept a remake of an old game having old mechanics, but a new game trying to revive those same old mechanics simply doesn’t work. While there are several reasons why this is the case, the most notable of them all is the fact that by creating a game from a long-lived and loved IP, you are forcibly restricted in what you can do. Reviving a franchise such as Crash Bandicoot will require a developer to make sure certain aspects are present and cannot in any meaningful way be changed. Crash will need to jump a certain way, certain levels will be expected, and how the game controls cannot be too foreign to the original. It puts a restriction on a game that typically isn’t present, or if it is, it’s from the same developer who has far more liberty to take the franchise into a new direction. But Naughty Dog won’t be creating this new Crash Bandicoot title; so again, we will find ourselves in the same predicament as before. A new developer, trying to find the same essence that made the original, with the lack of freedom to take the franchise in a truly new direction into making a new game.
Let us not head down this same path that has been tried and tried again. Instead, let’s let sleeping dogs lie. Don’t create a game that is bound to be in name only compared to the titles that made the franchise what it was; start anew. Create a new franchise, this way the requirements of the previous franchise won’t be there to restrict design or demand expectations. Crash Bandicoot had its time, and many of us loved that time, but I doubt after this many attempts that this next one will be the one to bring the franchise back. We just want to have fun, reliving the past with a new coat of paint and that’s it, not dragging a once famed franchise further into the mud one last time.
Let Crash Bandicoot stay dead, it has been through enough, we simply don’t need another, lets just enjoy it for what it was.