When Mascots Crash…




Image Credit: gamesradar.com

When Sony decided to get into the video game biz with the original Playstation they set out to create a money stealing mascot to call their own. Out of the need of an anthropomorphic salesman, Crash Bandicoot was born. Anyone old enough to have been around during the early days of the Playstation brand (when it was just a system and not a way of life) will remember the TV ads for the Crash Bandicoot games. A guy in a smiling orange bandicoot costume with his face sticking out of a giant hole cut out of the middle of the teeth, yelling at people and having “tude”.

My personal favorite was the ad where Crash pulls up in front of Nintendo headquarters in a pick-up truck with a tarp covering the rear bed. He proceeds to exit the cab with a bullhorn and mocks Mario, calling himself the “mustache man’s” worst nightmare and telling him it’s time to pack it up and go home. He ends up pulling the tarp off the truck to reveal a stack of TV’s playing different levels and scenes from Crash Bandicoot on Playstation. Eventually the building’s security guard comes out and tells him to leave. After some gameplay footage, it shows the guard and Crash walking through the parking lot and talking. The guard says “Is it Italian?” and Crash says “No, Bandicoot. It’s an Australian name.”


Image Credit: playstation.com

With that, Sony had a hit on its hands in both a game and a character. He was everything the kids of that generation were looking for. He had more attitude then any ol’ blue hedgehog and his platforming played an awful lot like a certain Italian plumbers eight and 16-bit adventures, only in 3D. Crash appeared in a good number of games and moved many units for Sony. His likeness made its way to action figures, plush dolls, clothes, posters and even lunch boxes. He graced multiple adventure games, cart racers, and party games throughout the PSOne’s ten-year lifespan, and he helped spark many a lunchroom debate over what system was best. To many, Crash was the coolest mascot.

As the release of the Playstation 2 loomed it seemed like Crash would ride the wave in and continue to battle Sonic and Mario for mascot (and system) supremacy. This was not destined to be the case as unforeseen changes were on the way. The first few games in the Crash series were developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony — therefore they were exclusive to the Playstation. Universal Interactive bought the property from Naughty Dog. This meant Crash was no longer a Sony-exclusive, and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex came out on Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube courtesy of Vivendi Universal Games in 2001.

Universal released Crash games on almost every platform over the next few years, recycling and watering down what Naughty Dog had come up with over and over again with little to no innovation. Then, in the mid-2000s, Crash received a complete overhaul. Gone were his fingerless gloves and gigantic teeth-filled smile. In their place were a Mohawk and tribal tattoos. Instead of chasing butterflies or performing simple jumping animations while idle, the new Crash looked angry and took on a fighting stance like an MMA superstar. His trademark voice was deepened and made to sound more “intense” to go along with his new look. Also gone was his last name as he was now refereed to as just “Crash”.


Image Credit: neogaf.com

The once fun-loving Crash had gone from being your dim-witted cousin that eats candy and farts in public to that douchebag guy you know from the gym with Japanese characters he can’t translate tattooed on his arm. You know, the guy who thinks he’s a tough guy and can “beat anyone’s ass” just because he took one free MMA class at the “Y” last year. Who wants a Crash Bandicoot that’s a cross between The Tazmanian Devil and Brock Lesnar? After his change everything he did felt fake and less fun. His attitude was completely forced and instead of actually being cool — he became what a bunch of stodgy board room executives thought was cool with the “youngsters”. Their one saving grace is that they added in the ability to “jack” into certain enemies and take control of them. It’s an interesting game mechanic to add but would have best been left to one game, like the water-pack was in Super Mario Sunshine. I loved Sunshine, but if Mario had to clean dirty walls with a super-soaker strapped to his back in Galaxy, New Super Mario Brothers and Mario Kart Wii, I would have given up on the plumber ages ago.

But at the least with Crash being a multi-platform hero, there’s always a chance that Nintendo can add an old-school Crash to the mix for the next Super Smash Brothers. In fact Nintendo has a pretty good relationship with Namco and put Pac-man in Super Mash Bros. WiiU. Who wouldn’t pay big dollars for the ultimate mascot smackdown with Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man and Crash??


Image Credit: YouTube


– Keith White Jr.

Twitter: @KeefWhiteJr