It's a rainy day at the family home in Spain. I go upstairs to look for something to occupy me. In one of the dusty, old boxes at the back of the room, I find the old relics. An original PS1 and a collection of the original Crash trilogy.
Back in England, the way games have advanced from when I was a young child, in my opinion, is mind-blowing. We are currently in a period of blockbuster AAA games, virtual reality and mind-blowing graphics. But what about if we step away from that for a bit? We could go back to see what was before. For two weeks, I was able to do just that. I left my PC behind and all of my current gaming adventures to rest for a while. The reason why I look forward to my holiday, is that I can get back into my favourite gaming franchise of all time: Crash Bandicoot.
Crash Bandicoot is the gaming series for me. The Crash series were the first games I ever owned and probably the games I have to this day put most hours into, and my passion for these games is probably unmatched. On a related topic, the announcement of the Crash remake at E3 literally made my heart skip a beat. I would be lying if I said my hands were not shaking at the news. That's how much of an obsession I have with Crash.
When I install the Playstation into the TV after a year of sleep, the iconic PS1 loading noise welcomes me back to my childhood. The memories of many happy days come flooding back to me. I have put the Crash Bandicoot disc into the machine, and I immediately wipe all the data from last year. I start from scratch. Through the start menu I go, and it begins. I know every jump, every box, every enemy, every level off by heart. I try to speedrun the game as fast I can. I can prove myself I still believe I am the best player in the world. But there it is, I fall. Back to the start. I feel like a child again, starting out the level again to try and beat it after failing, but that's the beauty of it. I know I can beat it easily, but that for me is the fun of it. I do not get frustrated, I am happy that I will be playing the game longer. This was also the first game my sister played, and she had not previous experience with platformers. Through time, I taught her how to play, thanks my numerous hours, and became a proud brother when she finally completed the game for herself. This for me is my favourite memory of this game, knowing that my passion helped someone else enjoy the game for what it is.
Crash Bandicoot 2
The second game of the series, this is probably the game I played the least. That isn't to say I don't enjoy it, however for me the other games had more personality about them. The levels felt long and repetitive, and the boss levels were nothing impressive, but it was the introduction of one of my favourite characters, Komodo Joe. Still one of my favourite characters on Crash Team Racing, he was cheeky, nimble and fast, but that is for another time. Completing it for full percentage however is always a fun challenge for me. There are a lot more hidden secrets in this installment compared to its predecessor, such as the hidden warp room that must be completed. I remember such warps to get there as falling down a specific hole on the runaway levels, or a platform that can only be found by walking backward into the screen. I still love accessing these secrets, even after the wonder I experienced discovering these things out after hours upon hours spending up lives and killing Dr. Cortex's evil minions, not to mention the alternate ending when siding with Dr. Brio for his master plan. Such memories!
"G'day, mates! Dingodile's the name, and Uka Uka and Cortex gave me orders to bring the Crystals to them during the Ice Ages. So gimme the goods and shove off, or I'll roast yas!" - Dingodile
Crash Bandicoot Warped
This is my favourite platformer game of all time. Nothing will ever beat it for me. A fantastic, fun-filled, adventure of comedy and action. This is the game I would associate my childhood with. It is full to the brim of lovable, colourful characters such as Tiny, Dingodile (a family favourite of ours), the master of time himself N.Tropy, the nefarious N.Gin and the notorious Dr Neo Cortex, with Uka Uka at his side. The craziness in this game never stops, from running through the medieval castles, to riding a tiger on the Great Wall of China, to blasting robots in the 23rd century. Not to mention to the epic boss battles this game has to offer. As a child, these levels were for me the pinnacle of gaming. I knew if I could beat the bosses, I could end the game proud. As a kid, this is possibly the best ever feeling you can get from playing a video game, no matter what it is. Just for me, it has to be this game.
I have spent hours of my life breaking the game. I always wanted more from it. I could never be satisfied playing it, and with the addition of time trials into the game, this was most certainly the case, especially with my family. Me, my sister and my father would spend hours trying to beat each others scores, which was usually met with angry remarks about how I had played the game too much! That didn't stop me, I always wanted to be the best on Crash. It is what led to me to being a speedrunner for the game, frequently testing myself to improve my times. It just means I never have to stop enjoying the game I love.
To conclude, Crash Bandicoot is definitely the series that cries out to me when someone asks, 'What was the best 90s games you ever played?'. Not only for its content, its characters and its secrets, but also how it brought together my family to enjoy this game, and also for me to share my knowledge and help my family appreciate what I had spent hours of my life playing. There are so many aspects of the franchise I could discuss, but I can always save them for another day.
Until next time...
John W Musseduch