Crash Bandicoot is a platform game developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation. Released initially in 1996, it is the first entry into the Crash Bandicoot series. This game starts the series with Crash Bandicoot being experimented on by Doctor Neo Cortex and his assistant Doctor Nitrus Brio to become the latest addition to Cortex's animal army created from enslaved animals across the Wumpa Islands. After the failed experiment, Crash escapes and resolves to save his captured girlfriend and fellow bandicoot, Tawna. The game was emulated on the PlayStation Network on December 4th 2006, allowing it to be played on the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3. The game has sold at least 6.82 million copies globally since its original release.
In its development stages, both the game and the character were initially called Willie the Wombat. The company had shopped the prototype around and after reaching a deal with Universal Interactive Studios, began developing the game further into what is known today as Crash Bandicoot. When the game was developed, Naughty Dog had only ten employees working for them.
The gameplay in Crash Bandicoot is noticeably simpler than the series' later iterations, as Crash doesn't learn any new skills throughout the game. He is able only to walk, jump and spin.
There are three Islands on the game, between which 32 levels are divided as follows (the six boss levels are indicated in bold):
|Island||Level Type||Level||Boxes||Items||Bonus Rounds|
|N. Sanity Island||Beach/Jungle||N. Sanity Beach||49
|Native Village (2D)||The Great Gate||26||Tawna|
|Boss/Native Village Hut||Papu Papu||N/A||N/A|
|Jungle||Rolling Stones||46||Nitrus Brio|
|Native Village (3D)||Hog Wild||24|
|Native Village (2D)||Native Fortress||42|
|Middle Island||River||Up the Creek||15||Tawna|
|Temple Ruins (2D)||The Lost City||25||Nitrus Brio|
|Temple Ruins (3D)||Temple Ruins||67||TawnaJ|
|Bridge||Road to Nowhere||33||Tawna|
|Native Village (3D)||Whole Hog (requires key)||24|
|Temple Ruins (2D)||Sunset Vista1||50||Tawna|
|Cortex Island||Factory (2D)||Heavy Machinery||33||Tawna|
|Factory (3D)||Cortex Power||41||TawnaJ|
|Factory (3D)||Generator Room||44||Tawna|
|Factory (3D)||Toxic Waste||26||Tawna|
|Bridge||The High Road||18||Tawna|
|Castle (2D)||Slippery Climb1||31||Nitrus Brio|
|Castle (3D)||Lights Out||15|
|Castle (3D)||Fumbling in the Dark (requires key)||18|
|Temple Ruins (3D)||Jaws of Darkness||65||Neo Cortex|
|Factory (2D)||Castle Machinery||24
|Boss||Dr. Nitrus Brio||N/A||N/A|
|Castle Lab||The Lab||21||Tawna|
|Castle||The Great Hall||N/A||N/A|
|Boss||Dr. Neo Cortex||N/A||N/A|
|Removed Level||Castle (2D)||Stormy Ascent||34
- 1 - Sunset Vista and Slippery Climb are swapped in the NTSC-J release of the game.
- J - In the original NTSC-J release.
- R - N. Sane Trilogy version only.
Somewhere southeast of Australia rest three little islands, teeming with wildlife. On one of these islands resides Doctor Neo Cortex, who along with his assistant Doctor Nitrus Brio are trying to create an animal army known as the Cortex Commandos to achieve world domination. Crash Bandicoot, a peaceful bandicoot, who is slated to become the army's general. Dr. N. Brio has created a machine known as the Evolvo-Ray, which is capable of giving animals anthropomorphic traits. Dr. Cortex eventually subjects these creatures to the Cortex Vortex, a device designed to brainwash animals and make them obedient to him. Despite Dr. Brio's warning that the Vortex was unstable, Cortex rushed the newly evolved Crash into the Vortex, which rejects him. Crash then seizes the opportunity to escape, with Cortex in pursuit. He eventually breaks through a window and escapes by falling into the sea. Cortex orders that the second bandicoot he caught be prepared for the Vortex: Tawna, Crash's girlfriend. Crash washes up on the beach of his home island and sets out to save Tawna before Cortex can use the Vortex on her. There, Crash meets a floating tiki mask known as Aku Aku, who provides Crash with assistance in the form of masks that will take damage for him.
Cortex decides that Crash must be stopped before he can return for Tawna and sends out his best henchmen after him. Cortex's plan is foiled when Crash reaches his toxic waste factory, wherein Cortex's machinery is powered and shuts it down during a battle with Cortex's top minion, Pinstripe Potoroo. Crash soon enters Cortex's sinister castle, where he confronts N. Brio in his lab room. The mad doctor drinks a potion to turn himself into a monster pounding the ground, which causes the castle to go up in flames.
With his plans ruined, Cortex faces Crash atop his airship. Crash eventually gains the upper hand and manages to destroy Cortex's Hoverboard, causing the Doctor to seemingly fall to his death. Crash is finally reunited with his beloved Tawna. The couple take the airship and fly into the sunset.
The game also features an alternative ending, which can only occur after gaining 100% completion. If Crash collects all the gems and follows the path the which appears in The Great Hall, Crash finds Tawna waiting for him on the balcony. Crash and Tawna escape together on a friendly vulture, and the epilogue is as follows:
Papu Papu started a Big & Tall Shop using money he received by selling Cortex Castle to a resort developer.
Ripper Roo received intense therapy and a few years of higher education, and wrote the book "Through the Eyes of the Vortex", pondering the consequences of rapid evolution.
Koala Kong moved to Hollywood, started an acting career, and is working with a speech therapist to improve his diction.
Pinstripe moved to Chicago and started a sanitation company.
Dr. N. Brio revisited his earlier hobby of bar tending.
Dr. Cortex is said to have disappeared. His whereabouts were then unknown, but led to the start of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, which picks up immediately after the events of the first game.
All of the characters are voiced by Brendan O'Brien, except for Aku Aku and Papu Papu, who are voiced by David Siller. Tawna and Koala Kong do not have any type of speaking role. Ripper Roo's laughter is a re-tuned recording of Dallas McKennon from Lady and the Tramp.
Crash Bandicoot: The hero of the game. Once an ordinary bandicoot, he was taken from his home by the evil Dr. Cortex to be the general of his Cortex Commandos for world domination. Crash gained his jump and spin attack from the Evolvo-Ray, but was rejected by the faulty Vortex. Although Crash escapes by jumping out the window, Tawna (his girlfriend) remains in the clutches of Cortex's henchmen, motivating him to return to the castle and rescue her.
Aku Aku: A magical mask who protects Crash from enemies, and Crash's best friend. He can be found inside special crates scattered throughout the island to help Crash on his quest.
Doctor Neo Cortex: The game's main antagonist. Mocked and ridiculed by the scientific community, Cortex seeks revenge against humanity by making an army of mutant animals (the Cortex Commandos) to help him take over the world. Alongside his colleague, Dr. Nitrus Brio, he began messing with the island's ecosystem, turning animals into mutant soldiers. It seemed like Cortex's plan was going well... until Crash was made.
Doctor Nitrus Brio: A biochemist who works with potions and vials. Being his boss' assistant led to some rivalry and it was actually N. Brio that made the Evolvo-Ray, but his low self-esteem allowed for Cortex take the credit.
Tawna: A female bandicoot who was Crash's girlfriend at the time. She is another bandicoot Cortex tried to evolve and mutate, and is being held hostage at Cortex Castle.
Papu Papu: The portly, ill-tempered leader of the tribesmen on N. Sanity Island. Though unaffiliated with Cortex, he attempts to kill Crash when he awakens the chieftain from his nap.
Ripper Roo: The perfect example of an experiment gone wrong, Ripper Roo was Cortex's first test subject and it shows. One too many shots from the Cortex Vortex produced an insane kangaroo who had to be restrained with a strait-jacket. He is presumably, like Crash, a Cortex Commandos reject. His boss fight takes place atop a waterfall on Wumpa Island, far away from Cortex's headquarters.
Koala Kong: A musclebound mutant koala. He is quite vain and prone to showing off, giving Crash the opportunity to spin boulders at him during his boss fight.
Pinstripe Potoroo: A trigger-happy potoroo mafioso armed with maniacal laugh and a signature Tommy gun. Pinstripe maintains the radioactive Cortex Power plant on Cortex Island. Once defeated, he accidentally fires his gun into the generator's core located in his office, shutting down the plant for good.
Known Prototype Builds
April 8, 1996
The most well-known and earliest prototype of the game contains many differences, but most notable of all, is the five cut levels, one of which is inaccessible and is called the "Lava Cave". Other notable differences are an entirely different main menu, a changed level order and map, and N. Brio's boss fight being sometimes impossible to finish due to a glitch (which, while still present in future versions, was less common). Even when the "glitch" didn't occur, N. Brio required an extra six hits, which likely was never intended since there were not that many dots (used to represent hit points).
May 11, 1996
This version was used in the E3 of the same year, and is very close to the final version in many aspects (such as crate physics, the map using 3D islands, levels having names, crates positioned more like in the retail version in most levels and the addition of music and gems). Most of the levels on the first two islands are far more similar to the final version as opposed to the April prototype. However, there are plenty of differences from the final version, including but not limited to, far fewer mugs in Native Fortress, The Lost City and Temple Ruins, as well as the existence of TNT crates in Sunset Vista, and hazards in Whole Hog that were cut in the final version, including small walls with Tribesmen peeking over it, and boomerangs spinning around the screen. Some of the music has slight changes when compared to the final version, such as N. Sanity Beach's main theme having an extra part in the beginning, the lack of an "intro" in N. Sanity Beach interior's music, and some slight note changes in Jungle Rollers' and Sunset Vista's music. The music also plays before the actual level (or map) begins. However, dots are still used as health indicator for bosses, and Aku Aku invincibility still not giving a speed boost. Aku Aku still has colorful sparkles coming out of him in his 2nd form, and warps being colorful sparkles too. Warps also have a smaller hitbox, making it possible to reach The Great Gate's yellow gem path without the yellow gem (this is still possible in the final version, but much harder). Road to Nowhere was still placed in the third island, this Temple Ruins connects to Boulder Dash, which connects to Sunset Vista, followed by Jaws of Darkness. The HUD was also complete by the time of this, but isn't positioned like in the final version.
Gems are harder to get in this version, considering that Crash cannot collect them if he dies, regardless of whether or not he has hit a checkpoint. Level completion screen also works differently when Crash collects a gem: First, all previously collected gems don't scroll at the bottom. Second, the acquired gem appears near the gem count, with a different sound effect. Crash also doesn't celebrate. Thirdly, since this version can't be saved, a message appears under Crash, saying "PRESS BUTTON TO RETURN TO MAP". When Crash misses crates, it all works the same as in the final version, but the missed crate counter disappears a split second after the last box falls on Crash's head, and is replaced by the same message. There is no sound effect of when the player presses any button either.
Bonus rounds function almost exactly like they do in the final version of the game, except that when returning from a bonus round to a level, the loading screen displays the text "RETURN TO ROUND" instead of the level's name. This version of the game can't be saved (although Tawna bonus rounds still "save" the game for when the player goes to the main menu and presses the Start button again).
The third island is deliberately inaccessible, so the player can't get gems in Upstream, Rolling Stones, Native Fortress, or Jaws of Darkness. The third island levels (which include Road to Nowhere and not Jaws of Darkness due to original level placement, and also doesn't include Castle Machinery which wasn't yet created) can be accessed only via hacking. These levels were far similar to their respective versions in the April prototype, such as crates on the sides of the bridge in Road to Nowhere, the eventual blue gem path in Cortex Power not requiring the blue gem, the bugged N. Brio boss fight, and some extremely slow doors in The Lab. This suggests that Naughty Dog worked on improving the levels in the first two islands, and waited to work on third island, which probably explains why the island was inaccessible. However, some things were fixed by the time, as Crash no longer has to hit the electric lab assistants with his back to them, as was necessary in the April prototype.
Papu Papu's starting animation can't be skipped, but Crash only gains control instead of skipping the animation. Crash has no celebration in all boss fights either. The gem paths in Boulder Dash and Lights Out (the latter of which is only accessible via hacking) have no crates, presumably because at one time, they were to contain the keys to Whole Hog and Fumbling in the Dark, instead of the Cortex bonus rounds, which would explain why even in the final version, these levels are shown as having the keys. Sunset Vista did not have a Cortex bonus round, Whole Hog's key was held in Jaws of Darkness instead. Stormy Ascent was going to contain the other Cortex bonus round, presumably for the key to unlock Fumbling in the Dark, and the tokens are included in the E3 version, but not the bonus round.
The Demo Mode is slightly different: the text "LOADING DEMO" appears while loading a demo, "PRESS START" when on-going and "LOADING MAIN MENU" when it ends, instead of the usual "LOADING" when starting and ending a demo and "DEMO" when on-going.
Crash Bandicoot received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the game's graphics and unique visual style, but noted the game's lack of innovation as a platform game. The game would later go on to become one of the best-selling PlayStation games of all time. The game sold about 700,000 units in Japan, becoming the first non-native title and franchise to achieve commercial success in the country. As of November 2003, Crash Bandicoot has sold over 6.8 million units worldwide. The game's success resulted in its re-release for the Sony Greatest Hits line-up on September 15, 1997, for the Platinum Range on March 1998, for the Best For Family line-up on May 28, 1998 and for the PS one Books line-up on October 12, 2001. Crash Bandicoot was the first non-Japanese game to receive a "Gold Prize" in Japan for sales of over 500,000 units. The game spent nearly two years on the NPD TRSTS top 20 PlayStation sales charts before finally dropping off on September 1998.
The game's graphics received positive comments. Dave Halverson of GameFan referred to the visuals as "the best graphics that exist in a game" and the design and animations of the titular character as "100% perfection". John Scalzo of Gaming Target described the environments as "colorful and detailed" and mentioned the snowy bridge and temple levels as his favorites. However, he noted that the boss characters appeared to be noticeably polygonal compared to the other characters due to their large size. Nevertheless, he added that this flaw was excusable because of the game's age and that the game's graphics were near perfect otherwise. A reviewer for Game Revolution singled out the scaling technology for praise and declared it to be "the new standard for PlayStation action games the same way SGI did for 16-bitters after Donkey Kong Country." Additionally, he described the texture-mapping precision as "awesome", the shading as "almost too well done" (and made the game more difficult with the pits appearing to be shadows and vice-versa), the polygon movements as "very smooth and fluid", the "quirky mannerisms" of the title character as "always refreshing" and the backgrounds as "breathtakingly beautiful (especially the waterfall stages)". However, the reviewer said that the ability to adjust the camera angle even slightly "would have been a definite plus (at times the ground itself is at 75 degree angle while Crash constantly moves at 90 degrees, putting a slight strain on the eyes)." Zach Meston of GameSpot, while comparing the game to Super Mario 64, noted that the game "may not offer the graphical smoothness or versatility of Mario's vast new world, but its brilliantly colorful and complex jungle environments boast true diversity of shape and texture - kind of a tiki room Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." A reviewer for IGN noted that "gorgeous backgrounds and silky smooth animation make this one of the best-looking titles available for the PlayStation.
The gameplay received mixed responses. Both John Scalzo and the Game Revolution reviewer compared the gameplay to Donkey Kong Country, with Scalzo describing the game as having a "familiar, yet unique" quality that he attributed to Naughty Dog's design, while the Game Revolution reviewer concluded that the game "fails to achieve anything really new or revolutionary" as a platform game. Zach Meston described the gameplay as "flat as roadkill on a four-lane highway" and noted that players may enjoy the game "purely as a test of jumping abilities". The IGN reviewer said that the game "isn't a revolution in platform game design. It's pretty much your standard platform game". However, he noted the game's "surprisingly deep" depth of field and use of different perspectives as exceptions to the platforming formula. Jim Sterling of Destructoid.com stated that the game has aged poorly since its initial release and cited the lack of DualShock thumbsticks, a poor camera as well as substandard jumping and spinning controls.
Names in other languages
- When coming up with the idea of how the game should be played, Naughty Dog decided to turn the screen so Crash would play running in and out rather than left and right. They jokingly called this "Sonic's Ass Game" since the player would always be looking at Crash's backside.
- According to developer Andy Gavin, Naughty Dog wanted Crash to animate similarly to the old Looney Tunes cartoons with squash-and-stretch physics. This was achieved with "vertex animation", which allowed infinite points of articulation as opposed the more common and stiffer "skeletal animation" which only used a limited amount.
- A set of hand-drawn animated cutscenes were created by Universal Cartoon Studios, but were never put into the final game, primarily because of Sony wanting to push the 3D graphics. They were not seen until producer David Siller uploaded them to his YouTube page in 2015.
- In the April 8 prototype, a different font is used, this font is called ‘Lithos’ which was Naughty Dog’s placeholder font at the time, However, in the May 11 prototype (specifically the one shown at E3) they use the ‘Crash-A-Like’ font, the font used from every Crash game until Crash Twinsanity.
Characters and Plot
- This is the only main Crash game to not feature Coco Bandicoot.
- N. Brio is the first character to speak in the entire Crash series.
- When Crash is falling out of the window of Cortex Castle in the intro, Cortex can for a second be seen floating in the sky, leftover from the previous scene.
- This is the only Crash game to feature the orange gem, bonus round tokens and keys.
- There are only 840 boxes in the game (or 1,122 counting the Bonus Rounds) in the PAL and NTSC-U versions of the game, the lowest in the whole platforming series.
- The Wumpa Fruit in the game and its next two sequels are not actually 3D objects. They are instead animated sprites that always face the camera, giving them the illusion of being 3D (a technique known as 'billboarding'). These Wumpa Fruit were reused in second and third game, Crash Bash, The Huge Adventure/XS, N-Tranced and Purple/Fusion.
- Crash always starts with two Aku Aku masks during boss battles.
- In Uncharted 4, Boulders is playable as part of an Easter egg.
- The game was featured as the 49th top console games in the Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition book.