Crash Bandicoot: development, gameplay, and review

Crash Bandicoot is a 3D platform video game released in 1996, developed by Naughty Dog, and published by Sony for the PlayStation. It holds the title of the eighth best-selling PlayStation game of all time.

Development

It all started in 1994 with Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin, founders of the Naughty Dog studio. After seeing the success of games with 3D rendering, they thought of a project for a three-dimensional version of an action platformer.

After deeming hardware such as the Atari Jaguar and the Sega Saturn insufficient for what they were planning, Naughty Dog decided to develop the game for the PlayStation, which went without trouble due to Sony’s lack of a mascot character.

The Sony PlayStation used Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) for textures in its video mode, which helped Naughty Dog to render shaded but untextured polygons with a lot more detail than usual in some other consoles.

This particular gimmick allowed developers to have more polygons to use to make up for the lack of texture correction the original PlayStation had.

Naughty Dog chose to use vertex animation to give the characters and the game a cartoony look and feel.

Due to the amount of detail and polygons required, Crash Bandicoot ended using the full capabilities of the PlayStation and pushing the boundaries of what was possible and the time.

Andy Gavin was even forced to create an algorithm to deal with the fact the PlayStation’s 512 x 240 video mode was leaving too little texture memory available.

Jason Rubin along with Dave Baggett had to create compressors to cut the size of the level to something the console’s random access memory could handle.

2 original test levels didn’t make it to the last version because they had too many polygons, and the console could show only 800 polygons on the screen at a time.

After a lot of trial and error, they managed to create the first successful jungle stage with the left-over of the first test level.

The inspiration for the titular character was Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Warner Bros’ Tasmanian devil. Naughty Dog wanted to use an anime that was cute but one not many people knew. The choices were wombat, potoroo, and bandicoot.

They decided to go with the bandicoot. The team wanted make this character a goofy and fun-loving heroic mime. They felt giving Crash a voice would detract from his character.

The artists behind Crash’s design were Charles Zembillas and Joe Pearson, they based their work more on the team’s technical and visual needs and their own inspiration than a real-life bandicoot’s appearance.

Gameplay

Crash Bandicoot functions as a 3 platformer, players use the titular character to traverse several levels filled with obstacles, bottomless pits, and enemy creatures.

The primary form of attack is a spinning attack that Crash uses to launch an enemy into the horizon. Another way to overcome foes is by jumping on them like Mario.

If a foe or an obstacle hits Crash, or he falls in a bottomless pit, the character will lose a life.

The game offers a mean of defense in the form of Aku Aku masks; each mask can protect Crash from a single hit but not from falls into a pit or other instant-death obstacles. Once Crash collects 3 Aku Aku masks, he’ll become invincible for a short time.

Players will find a lot of crates throughout the levels. They often contain some colorful fruits, and if Crash collects 100 of them, he gets an extra life. Some of them may also contain Aku Aku masks.

There are several types of crates; the check-point box allows players to resume their progress after losing a life, while the ones marked with an arrow let Crash bounce on them without said crates breaking.

Explosive TNT crates active after the players jump on them, which kick starts a timer of 3 seconds before blowing up.

Review

Back in the ’90s with the dawn of the Sega Saturn, the Sony PlayStation, and the Nintendo 64, the trend among gamers was choosing a console based on the graphics.

In this regard, Crash Bandicoot’s presentation was outstanding thanks to Naughty Dog’s work in shading polygons, proving players with one of the best PlayStation experiences from that era.

However, one of the most positive traits of this game is its cohesiveness. Everything fits together very well; the music, the sound effects, level designs, and the color palette all blend nicely.

The island over-world is simple and clean. And while collectibles don’t seem to matter at the beginning, the better players get in the game, the more stuff they can start to unlock, with those collected items appearing on the over-world screen.

As a 3D platform video game, Crash Bandicoot redefined the genre for its time. Despite its straightforward gameplay, the journey is not as easy as it seems.

However, the boss stages are relatively easy as soon as players get a chance to learn and adapt to the patterns.

Crash Bandicoot is awesome; it has a few difficult moments, it’s simple to play, and overall fun. We highly recommend this game.