Spyro is back! That’s right, Spyro the Dragon has finally marked his return and he has never looked better. Sporting fantastic new graphics in familiar settings, much in the same way Crash Bandicoot did last year, Activision looks to repeat the same success with the purple dragon that could. Nostalgia is a powerful tool and we have seen time and time again with how companies have used it successfully to create new products of the ones we also loved in the past; Activision is no different.
So here we are again, Activision bringing back a franchise many of us have strong feelings for, the second release of a classic PlayStation franchise being remastered, only a year apart and including all three games. While the interest is certainly there, it is waning, and the nostalgia fatigue is starting to set in.
Last year, Activision treated us to the Crash Bandicoot N’ Sane Trilogy, featuring the three original Crash Bandicoot titles remastered. Outside of a few minor hiccups in porting it over to modern consoles, it was a success and received critical acclaim. It looked great and presented all the original Crash Bandicoot games in a nice package for players both new and old. However, it was a lot of content in one package. Crash Bandicoot games are already lengthy affairs, especially if you hope to unlock all the secrets and complete the game. To combine all three titles into one package takes that to a whole new level, with each featuring its own set of levels, gems to collect, colored gems to discover, and time trials to complete and conquer—it is not a simple undertaking.
What further adds to this excessive load of content is the fact that all these games are already old. They existed, they had their time and were successful. If you are a gamer of a certain age, you most likely played the original titles when they first released and enjoyed them then. You beat those levels already, you collected the gems, you’ve uncovered the secrets, and now—are looking to do it all over again…three times.
The premise at first sounds amazing, a chance to relive those days once more and enjoy a game that you loved in your youth in one package at a fantastic price. Unfortunately, this quickly changes, and while at first, it was exciting, after a certain time, you become reminded of the frustrations of your past. The levels at first that you once loved, quickly become something repetitive. The efforts of your past no longer exist, and you are forced once again to conquer over previous hurdles. The gameplay you regarded as some of the best, looking back, paints a dreary and stark comparison to what is considered standard by today. Finally, all the ways of thinking before that were valid, couldn’t be further from the case.
The enjoyment that you had before has lessened, altered or changed in some manner than before and has become only all the more compounded in part due to having three titles of the same franchise all remade at once. It is simply too much for the player to truly enjoy, a waste on Activision’s part, and lessens the franchise because of it.
Breath or Breadth
Crash Bandicoot and Spyro are cherished franchises. Many players including myself have fond memories of these games and would love to not only play the originals but also continuations worthy of the original games. Even when going back and remaking the original games, players need a break to allow enough time to appreciate these titles individually for what they are. Originally when these games released, each entry was spaced out by at least one year. This allowed time for players to beat the earlier entry, time to want to play again, and purchase the next entry that takes the franchise further. Without this succession, there is not only a loss of appreciation but enjoyment from game to game.
The Crash Bandicoot franchise best exemplifies this from the first to second game. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is largely considered the best place to start in terms of the franchise. It altered the game’s objectives slightly, made a fair bit of quality of life changes, and made the difficulty for many of the secrets vastly more accessible. When presented with both in the same package, especially when story elements are minimal, most players will opt for the improved game. This has an effect of diminishing the value of the first title, which in turn makes the effort put into remaking it, less valuable. If players are likely to skip over the first game, what was the point of remaking it from Activision’s point of view? This, in turn, affects the potential enjoyment players may have had if it was released by itself. If the only remake available of a Crash Bandicoot was the first one for an entire year, more players would be willing to try it for what it was and enjoy it. However, when presented with improved alternatives, it’s likely passed over. Even in regards to Spyro, who as a franchise did not suffer such a disparity between versions, the same effect (albeit on a lesser scale) will still take place.
Players need that break between releases, it allows time to enjoy the earlier title, appreciate it for what it is, and of course become excited for the next one. Without it, players burn out or simply take the limited energy that they have and place it in the version most cherished or most advanced.
Of course, if a title is lacking in comparison to the rest, another answer does exist; expand it past what it was. The Oddworld series has done a wonderful job of not just remaking their titles, but also reimagining them. Taking the concepts of their originals and presenting them not just with a new coat of paint, but modern mechanics and systems. Allowing them to tell a similar tale but in a whole new way. Both Crash Bandicoot and Spyro instead of being remade could be reimagined, allowing each title to stand on its own in the same natural development cycle as before. Much the same way the original titles released would then be able to build off of one another and allow for a typical development cycle.
In Activision’s haste to make a dollar, they have taken the route that on the surface may seem the best for fans, but in reality, diminished the value of each entry in these cherished franchises’ titles. Players need time to digest each title or else they forgo those that offer less when their time is at a premium. Developers need time to create, not only to allow each of their products to stand on their own but to allow for the potential of changes or enhancements that can take the entries of those franchises to new heights. Otherwise, we all simply become tired of having too much available at once and waste so much of it in the process.