When looking at games for the PS1, there is one series that simply cannot be left out- Crash Bandicoot. During the 90’s this lovable orange hero was as much Sony’s mascot as Mario was Nintendo’s. Sadly though, changing developers and poor game production in the next decade would cause the character to fade into obscurity, though everyone who owned a PS1 will remember and celebrate the character and his best hits.
Now then, let’s focus on the game that started it all- the eponymous game of the series, Crash Bandicoot. This platformer focuses on the titular character- beginning with his escape from Cortex’ castle, then embarking on a journey through Dr. Neo Cortex’ Islands-all to save a female bandicoot who is being experimented on by Cortex after his own escape.
The game itself is split into levels, which can either be on a 2-D perspective or 3-D facing forward. In both situations though the game levels are generally fairly linear sequences of jumps, enemies, obstacles and crates (with the exception of boar riding and other unique segments). Progress requires moving through the level by running, jumping and spinning your way to victory While breaking crates and defeating enemies is optional, crate breaking allows you to increase your amount of Wumpa fruit, which when the counter reaches 100 an extra life is awarded. Each level theme is varied at intervals which are separated by boss battles. Each of these are unique and generally require a bit of thought, with each boss having a specific stratagem to defeat them (as with most platformers). Extra areas can also be found, through means of tokens. Collecting 3 in each level allows access to extra areas that are otherwise locked, though this is otherwise unnecessary to the main game. Another extra is breaking every single box in a level awards you a gem; however this does little other than push up the completion percentage.
No doubt, you will have noted nothing particularly special in that description, but gameplay is not what made the game special and there are a few factors which set it apart. The first is its setting. The game is on the Islands owned by cortex south east of Australia, with level, boss and music all designed after the setting. Bosses such as insane kangaroos and tribe leaders can be found, with vary levels of swamps, jungle, ruins and much more. The music is also unique, using some sounds such as jungle drums and a generally upbeat feel to them, with the music suiting each level perfectly. The graphics (though aged they may be), were at the time ground breaking. The visuals were aided by a vibrant and colourful style that stood out from other platformers. The other thing that set it apart, was the protagonist. The animation, quirky and mad as it may be is one of the most important things in the game, with an aura that no other character really could emulate.
Looking back, while Crash Bandicoot itself was not really in terms of gameplay the most innovative of games, its colourful graphics and gorgeous world sucked in any and all players who picked it up. While the series would not peak until it’s third game when it had brought in the gameplay features that really set it apart, the game played well and had an infectious vibe that could not be ignored; and it still stands as one of the PS1’s best-selling games and deservedly so- bringing one of Sony’s most cherished characters dashing along with it.
Crash Bandicoot is available on the Playstation Store.