In 1996, the amusing and lovable Crash Bandicoot was the star player on everyone’s PlayStation. It wasn’t rocket science – he simply occupied a space in our hearts. Fashioned in blue jeans and a radical ‘do, Crash is typically referred to as PlayStation’s mascot, as Mario is for Nintendo and Sonic is for the Sega Genesis. His comical behavior and relatable facial expressions may as well have landed him that gig, but his entertaining adventures encompassing wacky foes and challenges sealed the deal.
Developed by Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot is a classic PlayStation game for multiple reasons. Set upon a trio of the fictional Wumpo Islands, the first installment of Crash Bandicoot introduced the silly European creature. An introduction video follows the title screen, which as an impatient bratty child, I skipped right through. Why did I care what was going on? I just wanted to win. Now that I’ve matured (for the most part), I unveiled core details I apparently didn’t care to keep stored in my short-term memory. How could I have forgotten that Crash was an experimental test subject of the evil scientist Doctor Neo Cortex? Or perhaps that Crash had fallen in love with Tawna, another victim of Cortex, and vowed to save her life? Embarrassing, I know. I’m not proud to admit that.
Following that shocking revelation, Crash washes upon the shore of the Wumpo Islands. Thus began his journey spin-attacking various foes and dodging giant boulders. Boy, is it ever a challenge jumping from leaf to leaf that happens to be floating upon deep murderous water. Fun fact: bandicoots apparently can’t swim. To lessen the blow, Crash can destroy crates to reveal extra lives, checkpoints, Wumpo berries, or Aku Aku masks. Collect a grand total of a hundred of the delicious Wumpo berries and Crash earns an extra life. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult to do. Unfortunately, allowing Crash to be careless results in chaos, and zero lives. Pick your poison.
Luckily, if Crash happens to attain a total of three Aku Aku masks without being attacked by a demented creature, he will be granted with temporary invincibility. If he simply strolls into an enemy, they will ricochet at incredible speed into oblivion. See you never, spikey turtle. Granted, the radical Aku Aku mask doesn’t grant Crash any temporary wings or the will to swim. I found it smart to still be very cautious of where he stepped. He is quite the clumsy fellow.
It’s safe to say that Crash’s path to success isn’t an easy one, even though it may appear so at first glance. Other crates, such as TNT crates, can throw Crash into a frenzy of panic… and then engender death shortly after. Typically, they’re avoidable. Yet when there’s a free life nestling soundly between two TNT crates, how can someone just walk away from that? Well, three lives later I finally did, but that’s beside the point.
Many traps lay conveniently in Crash’s route, delaying his triumph and ultimately infuriating me. Whether it’s swiftly evading a giant rolling stone or avoiding falling into a bottomless pit, a challenge is always present. I had to learn how to be quick on my feet. Some enemies are typically easy to bypass, but others had me on my toes. Carnivorous plants can snatch Crash from a distance, so frantically spinning in its general direction usually does the trick. Key word: “usually.”
Despite the trickery that transpires, Crash can also pursue bonus areas scattered amongst stages. Regrettably, if he fails at reaching its end, the bonus round cannot be replayed unless the level in its entirety is restarted. Additionally, Crash also has the opportunity to receive sparkly gems. If he abolishes all crates in a single stage, he will earn a gem at that level’s end. Trust me, it’s a lot more difficult than it seems. Other gems are also hidden and are typically found by discovering alternate routes. Unfortunately, Crash doesn’t fashion these gems into an elegant necklace, but Bonus Stages do become unlocked if enough are obtained.
In all honesty, the most endearing aspect of Crash Bandicoot has got to be its handful of diverse characters. Ranging from the irritable obese Papu Papu to the psychotic kangaroo Ripper Roo, no foe is anywhere near boring. I can’t help but appreciate the random, yet fitting, traits each character personally endures. Why wouldn’t Crash have to confront a body-building brainless koala bear? I don’t understand it, but I absolutely love it.
To say that Crash Bandicoot is an energetic experience is an understatement. The environments are lively and the sound effects blend naturally with every step Crash takes. The gameplay is rarely dull. Crash is always facing an obstacle, no matter how petty or significant. At moments, the angles may seem awkward and maneuvering Crash can be tricky, but that breath of relief that follows getting him safely to a platform is a breath worth savoring. Plus, Crash has to save his woman and with a love that powerful, nothing will get in his way.