Activision may have tried to put Crash Bandicoot out to pasture, but two die-hard fans are bringing him back in a new adventure called Crystal’s Wrath.
Crash Bandicoot will always be my hero.
I grew up at the height of the Mario and Sonic feud and was the odd one out who preferred Crash Bandicoot, mostly because I had a PlayStation. I’ve never played Super Mario 64 – no, my youth was spent in the virtual outback hunting crystals and gems and guys with Ns on their heads. Being a lifelong fan, I followed Crash into the next generations (after the series went multi-platform and was out of developer Naughty Dog’s hands). I’m even in the minority that believes the last game (Crash: Mind Over Mutant) was pretty good. After greenlighting a reboot of the franchise, Activision up and killed the series to focus on more profitable titles like Call of Duty. So for the past four years I’ve been waiting for the triumphant return of the marsupial, to no avail.
Then I discovered Crash Bandicoot: Crystal’s Wrath.
Normally I’m not an avid follower of fan games, but I knew this one was special from the moment I saw it. It harkens back to the classic Naughty Dog trilogy on the PlayStation, and it’s the attention to the little details that makes it stand out. Even in its pre-alpha form, Crystal’s Wrath looks remarkably polished; exactly what a current-gen extension of the old games would be. More incredible still is the fact that the game is being made by just two guys – developers Pat and JB have been slaving away at programming, modelling, voice recording, composition, and everything else under the sun to bring the Bandicoot back to life. Crash Bandicoot: Crystal’s Wrath keeps true to the cartoonish style of the original trilogy, and all assets save for the iconic series sound effects are done from scratch. That’s quite a lot of work!
The story is your standard Crash Bandicoot plot from what’s been revealed so far – stop the nefarious Dr. Neo Cortex from doing bad things by collecting crystals and fending off his Looney Toons-esque array of minions. Story was never the strong suit of the games though – it’s all about the spectacle. The zany characters, the lush environments, and the vibrant soundtrack all complement engaging and interesting gameplay. Developers Pat and JB have even looked to Crash games after Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped for ideas and inspiration, calling their aesthetic “a mixture of all [the] best traits over the years“. One of my favorite touches is the return of the original death animation from the first game, right down to blacking out the screen and vaudevillian sound effects.
As promising as it looks, the creators have made it very clear that Crash Bandicoot: Crystal’s Wrath is only in the pre-alpha stage, meaning that things can only sharpen as progress continues. In developer JB’s own words, “Graphically, we think the game’s already looking great, but we have a lot to tweak with graphics and gameplay and we’re still at least a year from beta.”
The devs have remained very secretive about which fan favorites will show up and where the story will ultimately go. Understandably so, these guys probably get a kick out of seeing how Crash’s modest but very vocal fan base reacts to their revelations. Feedback has been very positive so far – fans have made it clear for years they’d pay good money to have the marsupial back. As long as Activision doesn’t step in and shut it all down (which would be a huge mistake, if you ask me), it’ll be well worth the wait. Here’s to a good run for Crash Bandicoot: Crystal’s Wrath. Hopefully we’ll have more on it in the near future!