It’s been several years since Crash Bandicoot had his own console game, which many feel is a major oversight, considering how the twirling character was largely regarded as one of the original PlayStation’s unofficial mascots for some time. But you can’t keep Crash down, and he’s making a comeback with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which is being published by Activision and is releasing for PlayStation 4 and Pro on June 30. As the title suggests, the compilation includes remastered editions of the first three games from the Crash Bandicoot franchise, giving both new and old fans a chance to dive into the games that started them all.
“These were iconic, groundbreaking and beloved games that came out on the PlayStation One over 20 years ago,” Kara Massie, producer on N. Sane Trilogy, explained to AListDaily during the game’s E3 showing. “Last year was Crash’s 20th birthday and he was the early mascot of the PlayStation. All these games have been lovingly remastered from the ground up for PS4 and PS4 Pro.”
Massie was joined by Nicholas Ruepp, executive producer at Vicarious Visions, the studio that’s remastering the trio of games: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back and Warped. When asked how impactful the PlayStation 4 Pro’s capabilities were to the remastered games, Ruepp said that the 4K console system was instrumental. “That’s why a lot of the embellishments and additional features that we put in weren’t in the original games—the hardware was the limiting factor,” Ruepp explained. “The visual fidelity is stunning, and that wouldn’t be possible without the PS4 Pro.”
Fans get to see Crash look better than ever before, and pre-ordering the game gets them three different PlayStation theme packs. However, fans were in for some bigger news from this year’s E3. Crash’s sister Coco, who made her first appearance in the second game, would be a playable character throughout the remastered trilogy, meaning that players can choose her as the main character instead of Crash. Starting her levels with a sly wink, Coco brings a renewed sense of style to the classic games.
Both Massie and Ruepp sat down with AListDaily at E3 to discuss the inclusion of Coco and why, after 20 years, fans still can’t get enough of Crash Bandicoot.
How have fans reacted to the news that Coco will be a playable character throughout the trilogy?
Ruepp: The fan response has been overwhelming. The team was emphatic from the very beginning that they wanted to do the trilogy justice and deliver it as a love letter to fans.
Massie: Now that some of the gameplay footage is being released by some of the fans here at E3, they’re seeing all of Coco’s movements and animations, which are being spread all over the internet just as we expected and wanted. We’ve been very pleased with the fan response.
How does Coco’s personality compare with Crash’s?
Massie: She is very different from Crash, and you can see it in the way she moves and acts. Crash is a little more haphazard and whatever comes, he’ll take it. His arms flail when he runs, he hits boxes with his arms, and he belly flops and throws his face at things. He’s not very thoughtful. Coco is more thoughtful and she’s the brains behind the operation—demonstrated by how she hacks into Cortex’s computer in the second game—and you can see it in how she moves and acts. She has a cheeky wink before she starts some of her levels and she’s definitely sassy.
What inspired having Coco be a playable character throughout the game?
Massie: I think it was just natural, and as Nick said, the desire for it came from the team. They thought it would be fun and she’s a lovable character. Also, she’s quite different from Crash. The fact that she was playable in a few levels in the third game kind of made it a no-brainer for us to see what it would take to make her playable across all the games.
How have you been engaging with fans to celebrate Crash and let them know about announcements such as Coco’s inclusion?
Massie: That’s very important to us and the community is really strong. I don’t think these remasters would exist if it weren’t for the fans. It was the voices of the fans calling out to bring Crash back that was the impetus behind this whole project. We knew we had to do right by these fans, and we’ve been bringing them along the journey with us by releasing footage while development is in progress. Another thing we’ve been doing is releasing logs and interviews—anything that we can do to let them know what we’re up to, what our feelings are about the project, and showing that we really care and that we’re hearing them.
Then there are fun things, like how we had a contest a few months ago. We asked fans to design an idle move for Crash—an animation that plays when Crash is standing still in the game—that would make it into the game. I think we got over a thousand entries within two weeks. Some people were filming themselves dancing, along with professional animations and kids’ drawings. There were so many ideas, and it was amazing to see the love for this brand.
— Crash Bandicoot (@CrashBandicoot) March 24, 2017
How would you describe the essence of the Crash Bandicoot brand?
Massie: It’s joyful, and that’s one of the key things for me. You can’t help smiling. Just watching people play here at E3, people are always smiling. Even if you’re struggling with some difficult section, there’s so much joy and humor that it’s a good feeling. The game is challenging, but it’s always joyful.
Why do you think Crash Bandicoot has remained such an enduring brand for the past 20 years?
Ruepp: The gameplay is intrinsically fun and that’s the essence of what’s made Crash stick for so long and brought so many fans over the past 20 years into the games.
Massie: The gameplay is compelling, and we’re still seeing it today. Even if you succeed, there’s a little something for everyone—completionists, speed runners and so on—there are always ways to improve. It’s also difficult to put down as well as a fun game to watch. You tend to be on the edge of your seat while watching your friends and family play, passing around the controller. Interestingly, it’s a social game and the character (Crash) is a little irreverent and Coco has a bit of cheekiness too. I think people relate to them—they’re relatable cartoon characters and people love that.