The games are mostly set on the fictitious Wumpa Islands, an archipelago situated to the south of Australia, although other locations are common. The main games in the series are largely platformers, but several are spin-offs in different genres. The protagonist of the series is an Eastern Barred Bandicoot named Crash, whose quiet life on the Wumpa Islands is often interrupted by the games' main antagonist, Doctor Neo Cortex, who created Crash and now wants nothing more than his demise. It's usually up to Crash to defeat Cortex and foil any world domination plans he might have.
The Crash Bandicoot series has been a commercial success, selling approximately 50 million units worldwide. As of August 31, 2011, the Crash Bandicoot franchise has celebrated 15 years.
After presenting Way of the Warrior to Mark Cerny of Universal Interactive Studios, Naughty Dog was signed on to the company for three additional games. On August 1994, Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin began their move from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California. During the trip, Gavin and Rubin decided to create a 3D action-platform game. Because the player would be forced to constantly look at the character's rear, the game was jokingly codenamed "Sonic's Ass Game". The basic technology for the game and the Crash Bandicoot series as a whole was created somewhere near Gary, Indiana. The rough game theory was designed by Colorado. Soon afterward, Gavin and Rubin threw out their previous game design for Al O. Saurus and Dinestein, a side-scrolling video game based on time travel and scientists genetically merged with dinosaurs. After moving into the Universal Interactive Studios backlot, Gavin and Rubin met with Mark Cerny, discussed the design of the game and made an agreement to go into production. On September 1994, Gavin and Rubin decided to develop their new game for the PlayStation, after which Rubin began character design. On November 1994, Naughty Dog hired Dave Baggett, their first employee and a friend of Gavin's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, Gavin and Baggett created the development tool "Game Oriented Object LISP" (GOOL), which would be used to create the characters and gameplay of the game. On January 1995, Rubin became concerned about the programmer-to-artist ratio and hired Bob Rafei and Taylor Kurosaki as additional artists.
Needing a lead character for the game, Naughty Dog recruited American Exitus artists Charles Zembillas and Joe Pearson and met with them weekly to create the characters and environments of the game, eventually creating a character named "Willy the Wombat". The marketing director of Universal Interactive Studios insisted that the character be named "Wez", "Wuzzles" or "Wizzy the Wombat". On creating the levels for the game, Zembillas and Pearson first sketched each environment, designing and creating additional individual elements later. They aimed for an organic, overgrown look to the game and worked to completely avoid straight lines and 90-degree corners. A Naughty Dog artist sketched every single background object in the game before it was modeled. The artists were tasked with making the best use of textures and reducing the amount of geometry. Dark and light elements were juxtaposed to create visual interest and separate geometry. The Naughty Dog artists would squint when sketching, texturing and playing the levels to make sure they could be played by light value alone. Correct use of color was an important goal for Naughty Dog's artists; for example, mutually accentuating colors were chosen as the theme for the "Lost City" and "Sunset Vista" levels. The interior of Doctor Neo Cortex's castle was designed to reflect Cortex's twisted mind.
After the main character's creation, the team went into three months of developing the game. The game first became functional on April 1995 and became playable on June 1995. The first three levels in the game were completed by August 1995. However, they were judged to be too difficult to appear so early in the game and were moved to the game's power plant area. Artist Charlotte Francis joined Naughty Dog at around this time. On September 1995, a videotape of Crash Bandicoot was shown to Sony Computer Entertainment behind closed doors. While playing the game during development, Rubin realized that there were many empty areas in the game due to the PlayStation's inability to process numerous on-screen enemy characters at the same time. Additionally, players were solving the game's puzzles too fast. Rubin soon came up with the idea of a box and putting various symbols on the sides to create puzzles. Breaking these boxes would serve to fill in the boring parts of the levels and give the player additional puzzles. The first "crate" was placed in the game on January 1996, and would become the primary gameplay element of the series. Willy the Wombat's destruction of the crates would eventually lead him to be renamed "Crash Bandicoot". On March 1996, Sony agreed to publish Crash Bandicoot, which went into the alpha stage on April 1996. Crash Bandicoot was first shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo on May 1996 and was met with enthusiastic reactions.
Development of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back began in October 1996. For the game, Andy Gavin perfected a new engine named "Game Oriented Object LISP 2" (GOOL 2) that was three times faster than the previous game's engine, could handle ten times the animation frames and twice the polygon count. The jungle levels were originally to have featured ground fog, but this was abandoned when magazines and the public began to brutalize other developers for using fog to hide polygon count. Sunlight and depth accentuation was experimented with for these levels. Wanting to have some "dirty" locations in the game, Naughty Dog worked in the sewer levels and added color contrast to the levels to show depth and break up the repetitive monotony of the endless sewer pipes. A flat plane z-buffer was created for the game; because the water surfaces and mud in the jungle had to be a flat plane and be exactly flat on the Y-axis, there could be no waves and the subdividing plane could not be at an odd angle. The effect only worked on objects in the foreground and was only used on Crash, some enemies and a few boxes at the same time. The soundtrack of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was provided by Mutato Muzika (consisting of Mark Mothersbaugh and Josh Mancell), while the sound effects were created by Universal Sound Studios (consisting of Mike Gollom, Ron Horwitz and Kevin Spears). The characters were designed by Charles Zembillas of American Exitus, Incorporated. Clancy Brown provided the voice of Doctor Neo Cortex, while Brendan O'Brien voiced the dual role of Doctor N. Gin and Doctor Nitrus Brio and Vicki Winters voiced Coco Bandicoot. The game was unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta, Georgia on June 1997 to a positive response from the game industry. The game went into the alpha stage on August 1997. Around that time, Dan Arey, the lead designer of Gex: Enter the Gecko, joined Naughty Dog and streamlined the level design.
Like the first one, the second game was also critically acclaimed, green-lighting a third game. Production of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped began on January 1998, with Naughty Dog given only 10½ months to complete the game. Programmers Andy Gavin, Stephen White and Greg Omi created three new gameplay engines for the game. Two of the three new engines were three-dimensional in nature and were created for the airplane and jet-ski levels; the third new engine was created for the motorcycle levels in the style of a driving simulator. The new engines combined make up a third of the game, while the other two-thirds of the game consist of the same engine used in the previous games. Jason Rubin explained that the "classic" engine and game style was preserved due to the success of the previous two games and went on to say that "were we to abandon that style of gameplay, that would mean that we would be abandoning a significant proportion of gamers out there." An arbitrary plane z-buffer was created for the jet-ski and flooded Egyptian hallway levels of the game. To create a completely fluid feel for the water on these levels, an environment map that reflects the sky was fitted onto the surface of the water. A real shadow was given to the Crash character at the request of the Sony Computer Entertainment America producers, who were "sick of that little discus that's following him around." To create an "arcade" experience in the airplane levels and to differentiate them from flight simulators, the enemy planes were programmed to come out in front of the player and give the player ample time to shoot them before they turn around and shoot the player rather than come up behind the player and hit them from behind. The Relic system was introduced to give players a reason to return to the game after it has been completed.
While initially Naughty Dog was only signed on to make three games, Crash Team Racing was a possible Crash 3 as it started out in production after Crash 2 and the game which was finished first in production would be released first. However, Naughty Dog had already gotten far into the project and decided to finish it and release it. David Baggett produced the game's soundtrack, with Mark Mothersbaugh and Josh Mancell of Mutato Muzika composing the music. Sound effects were created by Mike Gollum, Ron Horwitz and Kevin Spears of Universal Sound Studios. This marked the end of Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot games.
Although Naughty Dog was no longer developing the Crash Bandicoot series, the series still continued. The series remained with the same publisher and was given to Mark Cerny to develop.
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex was originally intended to be designed by Mark Cerny (who designed all the games in the series thus far) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. After a falling-out between Vivendi Universal and the two entities, Traveller's Tales was forced to alter the game from a free-roaming title to a standard Crash title. Traveller's Tales had to begin development of the game from scratch and were given only twelve months to complete the game. The game received mixed reviews but nevertheless made the Greatest Hits lineup. Despite the rights of Crash Bandicoot going to Vivendi Universal, Sony still retained the rights for the distribution and porting of the original Crash Bandicoot game series.
Crash was given a break from the major consoles and had a series of games made for the Gameboy Advance which were developed by Vicarious Visions (see below). During this time a subsidy of Traveller's Tales - Traveller's Tales Oxford Studio were developing a new Crash game for console. This game was to be Crash Nitro Kart, but due to unknown circumstances Vivendi moved development of Crash Nitro Kart over to Vicarious Visions. Traveller's Tales Oxford Studio then moved on to their next project, Crash Bandicoot Evolution.
Crash Bandicoot Evolution was set to create a new form of gameplay for Crash with the game planned to be a Platformer/RPG with many different elements planned for the game; it eventually became Crash Twinsanity. Crash Twinsanity was praised by fans as being a relatively good game as it expanded more towards free-roaming than straight platforming as well as having a humorous storyline and cast of characters, and for its soundtrack by a cappella band Spiralmouth.
After developing Crash Twinsanity, Traveller's Tales Oxford went on with two new Crash projects (believing Vivendi had left them the development rights for Crash). The first project was a direct sequel of Crash Twinsanity, based around Cortex being excluded from all the other villains in the Crash universe. The game's name had already been decided on: "Cortex Chaos." This project was cancelled, but Vivendi still has the option to continue its development. The other project was Crash Clash Racing (now Crash Tag Team Racing) which was also going to act as another sequel to Crash Twinsanity. However, when Traveller's Tales found out that Vivendi had moved development over to their in-house studio Radical Entertainment, both projects were scrapped and Traveller's Tales Oxford Studio was made defunct after releasing their one other game, Super Monkey Ball Adventure.
Vivendi had already changed Crash from a PlayStation exclusive series with the release of Wrath of Cortex and decided to make a handheld series of games. The first game, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure was developed by Vicarious Visions and released to critical acclaim and also sold critically well; it managed to spawn a sequel, Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced. Both games had a lot of similarities to Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped with level themes, music and various other details.
Vicarious Visions were then given the development properties of Crash Nitro Kart by Vivendi from Traveller's Tales. Crash Nitro Kart was released for all major consoles as well as the Gameboy Advance and received generally positive to mixed reviews.
Vicarious Visions's fourth and final game was Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage for the GameBoy Advance. The game was given average reviews but managed to sell well.
After finishing Crash Twinsanity and having Cortex Chaos get cancelled, Traveller's Tales was commissioned to develop one more Crash Bandicoot game, a racing game. This game was called Crash Clash Racing; it picked up the story of Crash Twinsanity and brought back its characters, such as Evil Crash. It used a unique new idea in which two cars merged to create a "mega-car". The game would have focused on Crash's family (including Coco) traveling into Crash's brain in order to remove Cortex.
However, to save money on the project, it was indefinitely halted and given to one of Vivendi's in-house studio's, Radical Entertainment. Radical changed the project into an entirely new project, keeping two core ideas, clashing and fusion. The game marked Radical's first game in the series, the first game published under Vivendi's Sierra Entertainment brand, and the first game to use Radical's Titanium Engine. It eventually received the title Crash Tag Team Racing.
Development on Crash of the Titans, Radical's second title, began after the completion of Crash Tag Team Racing. The graphics of the Wii version of the game was one of Radical Entertainment's main focuses in the game's development, with Radical stating that the Wii has "a lot of horsepower under the hood" and expressing their desire to make full use of it. They also considered implementing a feature to connect the Wii to DS during gameplay, but stopped due to technical issues and time. The Xbox 360 version got a few extra months of development time to improve its graphics before setting a final release date.
While the game was being developed, the title's main character, Crash Bandicoot, became the new mascot of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "School and Youth" programs in an effort to promote the battle against blood cancer. In a bid to further promote the game, a Hummer (with a Wii inside) was painted with imagery from the game and displayed at the Annual Balloon Fiesta in Bristol, United Kingdom. A "Monster Edition" of the game was released exclusively in Europe on October 12, 2007 for the PlayStation 2. This special edition of the game features "Making-of" videos, water-on tattoos, game hints, a cheat code list, and the game's E3 and theatrical trailers in multiple languages. Due to its "mild cartoon violence and language", the game received a PG rating from the BBFC.
Development on Crash: Mind over Mutant, Radical's third and latest Crash title, began immediately after the completion of Crash of the Titans. The idea of preserving a Titan for later use came from the play testing sessions of Crash of the Titans, in which the testers were found to be reluctant to leave the Titans behind after an epic battle was won. Fans of the series were also a source of inspiration for Crash: Mind over Mutant, having such wishes as a free-roaming environment, Coco Bandicoot being a playable character and the return of the character Doctor Nitrus Brio. Full camera control was considered for the game, but was rejected for graphical reasons and to avoid having to insert a split-screen view in the cooperation mode. Online gameplay was also considered as a feature in the finished game, but was omitted due to the brief development schedule. Coco Bandicoot as a playable character was omitted from the PlayStation 2 version of the game due to her distinct animations taking up much of the console's memory. The Wii version of Crash: Mind over Mutant was created first, with the graphics scaled up for the Xbox 360, and scaled down for the PlayStation 2. This marked the end of Radical Entertainment's Crash Bandicoot games.
On a Kotaku interview with Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg regarding the future of the Crash series, he said, "I don't have anything official to announce, but I can speak as an individual, I love Crash Bandicoot. Those were some of my favourite video games growing up. And I would love to find a way to bring him back, if we could.". Andy Gavin, co-creator of Crash Bandicoot, has said that he’d love to see an HD version of the marsupial’s first four games, or even a full blown reboot.
Common gameplay elementsEdit
Crash Bandicoot is primarily a platforming series. The goal of each level is to guide Crash from the beginning to the end, travelling either into the screen, towards the player or left and right in a side-scrolling manner. Several levels place Crash in unique situations which require the use of motorbikes, jet skis, submarines and various wild animals to reach the level's end.
In the original Crash Bandicoot, Crash's moveset is rather limited; he can run, jump and spin his way through treacherous environments and hostile creatures. Cortex Strikes Back introduces several new moves for Crash to utilise, including a high jump, body slam and slide attack. Warped expands on this by awarding the player with new abilities after each boss is defeated, which is also used in The Wrath of Cortex.
The most common collectible in the series is Wumpa Fruit, which is found on the main path of most levels, as well as inside most crates. Collecting 100 Wumpa Fruits will award the player an extra life. Wumpa Fruit takes on other uses in most spin-off titles, such as restoring health in certain Crash Bash levels and increasing weapon power in Crash Team Racing. In recent titles, Wumpa Fruit is used to replenish Crash's health, with Mojo effectively replacing it as the new main collectible item.
The other major recurring valuables Crash finds on his adventures include Gems and Crystals. Most Gems in the series are won by breaking open every crate in a level. Starting with Cortex Strikes Back, an additional five coloured Gems can be obtained by completing special tasks or finding hidden areas. Crash Twinsanity contains six colored Gems per level, most of which are earned by solving a small puzzle. Crystals play a key role in the plot of most Crash games, and are always found in plain sight (they must be collected in order to complete the level).
Less common collectibles of note are Trophies, which are the reward for completing a stage in Crash Team Racing, Crash Bash and Crash Nitro Kart, and Relics. Relics appear in Warped and Wrath of Cortex as the prize for beating a level's Time Trial mode. This mode is unlocked by re-entering a level after having completed it once.
Crates come in several varieties and can be found in abundance across Crash's world. Most crates will assist the player's journey through the game, providing Wumpa Fruit, additional hit points in the form of Aku Aku masks and extra lives. In most games, players will be awarded a gem if they break all the crates in a level.
TNT and Nitro Crates are the only boxes that can damage Crash. TNT Crates have a three second fuse when jumped on, but Nitro Crates will explode instantly upon any contact with Crash or anything else that runs into them. Switch Boxes (distinguished by an exclamation mark) are used to make previously invisible crates appear. A green Switch Box will detonate all Nitro Crates in the level.
Crates marked with a "C" are checkpoints that Crash will return to if he is killed during play. Steel Crates are protected by a metal casing that can only be destroyed with Crash's body slam move, while Spring Crates allow him to reach high up areas by bouncing on them. Slot Boxes rapidly switch between multiple types of crates, and if they are not broken in time, will become metallic and indestructible. Time Boxes are a special crate found exclusively in Time Trial mode. They will freeze the clock for the number of seconds displayed on the box, increasing the player's chance of beating the time trial.
Numerous composers have contributed music to the Crash Bandicoot series. Mutato Muzika and Josh Mancell were responsible for the music of the first four games. After the fourth game, numerous other composers were responsible for the music in other games. Steve Duckworth composed music for Crash Bash, Swallow Studios for The Wrath of Cortex, Ashif Hakik and Todd Masten for Crash Nitro Kart and Spiralmouth for Twinsanity. The music for Tag Team Racing was composed by both Spiralmouth and Marc Baril, while Crash of the Titans and Mind Over Mutant were composed by Baril alone.
1996 – PlayStation, PlayStation Network
|Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back|
1997 – PlayStation, PlayStation Network
|Crash Bandicoot: Warped|
1998 – PlayStation, PlayStation Network
|Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex|
2001 – PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox Originals
2004 – PlayStation 2, Xbox
|Crash of the Titans|
2007 – PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance
|Crash: Mind over Mutant|
2008 – PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS
|Crash Team Racing|
1999 – PlayStation, PlayStation Network
|Crash Nitro Kart|
2003 – PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance
|Crash Tag Team Racing|
2005 – PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, PlayStation Portable
2000 – PlayStation, PlayStation Network
|Crash Boom Bang!|
2006 – Nintendo DS
|Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure|
2002 – Game Boy Advance
|Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced|
2003 – Game Boy Advance
|Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage|
2004 – Game Boy Advance
|Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D|
2008 – iPhone, iPod Touch, Zeebo, N-Gage 2.0
|Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island|
2009 – BlackBerry, Symbian
|Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2|
2010 – iPhone, iPod Touch
Publishers and developersEdit
The first four Crash Bandicoot games were developed by Naughty Dog. Crash Bash was developed by Eurocom. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex and Crash Twinsanity were developed by Traveller's Tales and its division Traveller's Tales Oxford, respectively. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure (Crash Bandicoot XS in Europe), Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage (Crash Bandicoot Fusion in Europe) have all been developed by Vicarious Visions. Crash Tag Team Racing, Crash of the Titans and Crash: Mind Over Mutant were developed by Radical Entertainment and Crash Boom Bang! was developed by Dimps. The first five Crash titles were published by Sony Computer Entertainment as well as the games being produced by Universal Interactive Studios. Wrath of Cortex was published by Universal Interactive Studios. All of the other Crash titles were published by Universal Interactive Studios (now the defunct Vivendi Games). Konami published and distributed some Japanese-released Crash Bandicoot games for the Japanese Market.
The first five Crash Bandicoot games were exclusives to the Sony PlayStation. Since then, multiple developers have worked with the property and games have been released for Nintendo and Microsoft consoles, in addition to Sony. Although first exclusive to Sony consoles, no Crash Bandicoot game has been released on the PlayStation 3 beyond the re-release of the digital copies of the original five Crash Bandicoot games on the PlayStation Network as of 2011.