1.THE CRATE CONCEPT WAS ADDED DUE TO HARDWARE LIMITATIONS
Love them or hate them, those pesky crates that dominate the stages and bonus rooms of the Crash Bandicoot games are an unavoidable presence. That’s why it’s so crazy that these fundamental items were such an afterthought to the series and only decided on because of the limitations of the PlayStation console.
Essentially, during Crash’s development in 1995, Jason Rubin realized that there was too much open “dead” space in levels. This was a result of the PlayStation not being able to render multiple on-screen enemies at the same time.
Additionally, test players were also solving the game’s puzzles too quickly. Rubin’s answer to this was adding crates to the experience, which would fill in any empty spots in the levels, while simultaneously offering up additional difficulty.
The first crate was added into the game in January of 1996, and it wasn’t much longer until it became the defining gameplay aspect of the series, as well as Crash’s namesake.
The crates were also the final major touch added to Crash Bandicoot before Sony would agree to publish the game in March of 1996.
2. CRASH BANDICOOT WAS THE MASCOT FOR LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY’S “SCHOOL AND YOUTH” PROGRAMS
Crash’s charity work is certainly one of the more confusing additions here, but it’s still certainly worth commending.
The plucky bandicoot might have been keeping the universe safe from the likes of Doctor Neo Cortex for decades now, but a lot of people don’t know that he’s also a huge opponent to malignant blood disease.
In 2007, Vivendi and Sierra formed an alliance with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “School & Youth” program to officially make Crash Bandicoot the face and mascot for the cause.
The organization is devoted to educating children and raising both money and awareness across the United States regarding leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
A partnership of this variety is especially sweet, but it’s a little ridiculous that the timing of it all seems to render the generous alliance as some sort of advertisement for 2007’s Crash of the Titans, a sub-par video game.
Regardless of the motivations behind the move, Mark Halacy, Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Vivendi Games, goes as far t add: “Crash is a bandicoot with a big heart; he’s brave, he’s loyal and he’s always ready for a good fight and a great cause.”
3. CRASH BANDICOOT TOOK IDEAS FROM NAUGHTY DOG’S CANCELED AI O. SAURUS AND DINESTEIN
During the infancy of Naughty Dog and the early beginnings of Crash Bandicoot, there was plenty of troubleshooting over what’s the right direction for the game.
Some of the most recognizable aspects of the Crash games are the bizarre hybrid designs of its villains, as well as the series’ time-hopping frenetic nature. Believe it or not, though, those were concepts associated with another Naughty Dog game entirely.
Before Naughty Dog had signed on with Universal Interactive Studios to begin developing Crash, they had the idea for a 2D sidescroller called AI O. Saurus and Dinestein.
The game would have featured dinosaur/evil scientist hybrids that were travelling through time, with the game leaning heavily into being a Back to the Future and Jurassic Park spoof.
Once signing on with Universal, Naughty Dog’s entire focus was moved onto Crash, meaning O. Saurus and Dinestein was dropped, but many of the game’s ideas found their way migrating over to Wumpa Island.
For what it’s worth, if Naughty Dog had never signed on with Universal, there would be no Crash Bandicoot, but they would have at least fleshed out O. Saurus and Dinestein to completion.
4. MARK MOTHERSBAUGH DID THE SOUNDTRACK FOR THE ORIGINAL CRASH GAMES
Music is such a crucial component to video games that can often end up going overlooked. Naughty Dog was looking to go all out with Crash Bandicoot, with one of the major pushes being to get some considerable talent on the game’s soundtrack.
Accordingly, the efforts of Josh Mancell and the production company, Mutato Muzika were enlisted to handle the game’s soundtrack. Mutato Muzika is the collective that’s run by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame and their work is consistently astounding.
Mothersbaugh is a prolific name in the music industry, handling the soundtracks for all of Wes Anderson films, as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s efforts.
Naughty Dog’s relationship with Mothersbaugh and Mutato Muzika would remain pleasant, with them not only continuing to work together for the rest of their Crash games, but also teaming up again for the Jak and Daxter series.
So much of the chaotic style and personality of Crash Bandicoot is reflected through the game’s music, and Mothersbaugh perfectly taps into that to create something special.
5. THE FIRST CRASH LEVELS DEVELOPED WERE DEEMED TOO DIFFICULT
The early Crash Bandicoot titles made a name for themselves on their difficult and often frustrating platforming challenges.
It’s one thing to simply help Crash make his way to the end of a level, but the more extravagant tasks like completing all of the bonus rooms and achieving over 100% truly test the patience of even the most skilled gamers.
As the Crash series would grow and evolve, it would naturally look for even more ways to re-invent platforming and new ways to be challenging.
Even before Naughty Dog was looking to push gamers’ to their absolute limits, their very first attempts at Crash Bandicoot levels ended up being some of the most difficult in the entire game. If that isn’t a telling statement on their level design, then what is?
The first three levels that Naughty Dog came up with were “Cortex Power,” “Generator Room,” and “Heavy Machinery.”
Rather than scaling these levels back in difficulty and resorting to easier designs, the team instead decided to move them to the game’s final world. Naughty Dog would effectively work backwards to figure out the more rudimentary design of the game’s introductory jungle levels.