In the ’90s, Nintendo and Sega were embroiled in a fierce console war. Their mascots, an Italian plumber, Mario, and a blue hedgehog, Sonic, were the faces of the video game industry. Platforming games were the dominant genre, and with Mario and Sonic leading the way, Sony needed a mascot of their own. Their answer was Crash Bandicoot, released in 1996 for the PlayStation. This sassy, shirtless marsupial was oozing with character, and would go on to become one of the best selling games for the console.

The Crash series has sold over 50 million copies to date and, despite its wavering popularity in recent years (a string of shoddy spin-offs, a five-year hiatus and its countless passing from developer to developer being mostly to blame), Crash fever was at its peak when developers Naughty Dog held the reins. The original Crash Bandicoot trilogy had attitude, its defining landscapes and characteristic boss battles (who can forget Pinstripe Potoroo - the potoroo with a Tommy gun?) made the series shine amongst the countless number of Mario and Sonic clones that would eventually begin to flood the market. Crash Bandicoot dared to be different, and its adult tones were the perfect fit for Sony’s PlayStation console.

While Nintendo 64 platformers such as Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie would focus on exploration of bigger worlds, Crash’s levels were more linear. It’s camera style, usually rear view as Crash progressed forward, added a speed to the games that other platforms simply couldn’t match - especially during the game’s many chase levels where you’re steering Crash as he rushes to avoid the crushing pursuit of giant boulders.

The first Crash Bandicoot game was also extremely difficult in comparison to its platforming counterparts, down to its fluctuating difficulty spikes and lack of frequent save points. If, like me, you were met with numerous deaths at the hand of poorly timed jumps in one of the game’s earlier levels, "The Great Wall," you’ll be familiar with that sense of frustration.

Crash’s difficulty was prevalent throughout the series. Poorly-executed attacks or misjudged jumps would detonate explosive boxes, made all the more frustrating when your cause for attack was bound to the temptation of an extra life that sat above them. Crash’s level design could be just as wacky as his defining character traits.

Yet, at the height of this frustration, there was a remarkable sense of prevalence when you completed stages. Making it to the top of "The Great Wall" for the first time after countless falls felt fantastic. Traversing level to level around what was essentially a giant world map in the first game added a unique sense dimension to the landscape, in what was pretty much the 3D equivalent of Nintendo’s Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country.

But the formula for the Crash series was never set in stone. Naughty Dog would work hard to make each new Crash game as unique its last.

In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the difficulty spike was curved, making the game more accessible to players. Despite featuring fewer levels, locations were certainly more varied than its prequel, with new areas such as the swamp providing Naughty Dog new room to experiment with color contrast and depth, allowing them to flaunt the PlayStation’s graphical fidelity. An increased focus on bonus levels also encouraged players to take more time in exploring stages, balancing out the decision to include fewer levels in the game.

The sequel to Crash Bandicoot 2, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, was the most critically acclaimed game of the series. Its stages were the most varied out of anything that had come before it, thanks to its central story revolving around the use of time travel, allowing Crash to visit areas ranging from the prehistoric and Aztec era all the way to futuristic settings such as dystopian New York.

The addition of vehicles, be they motorbikes or dinosaurs, was a bold move, but worked well to compliment Crash’s cocky characteristics. Players could also play through levels as Crash’s female companion Coco, further expanding on the accessibility of the series, and its predominantly sci-fi and futuristic aesthetic was perfectly fitting for Crash as the game released shortly before the millennium.

It was around this time that there was a rising popularity in kart racing games and also "party" games, both genres being popularized by titles such as Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing and the Mario Party series on the Nintendo 64. Refusing once again to be outshone by Nintendo, Naughty Dog released Crash Team Racing in 1999; a perfect fit for the series given Naughty Dog’s clever inclusion of vehicles in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.

Crash Bash, the fifth installment in the series and the last game to be published by Sony, was released in 2000. It was PlayStation’s answer to Mario Party, and despite not being as well received as previous Crash entries, it was arguably as fun; packed full of great mini-games which were a blast to play with four players.

Unfortunately for Crash, after the series’ publishing deal with Sony came to end, its venture to multi-platform was damaging. The proceeding years would see the Crash series passed around multiple developers and publishers, with no concrete vision of where the series should head next. It was most recently acquired by Activision in 2008, a string of sub-par mobile releases leading to the franchise laying dormant, until this year.

Activision is celebrating 20 years of Crash by bringing back a remaster of the original trilogy for PlayStation 4, as well as rolling out Crash as a character in the latest Skylanders game. The hype surrounding the announcement was intense; fans of the series have been eagerly awaiting a proper Crash Bandicoot game for nearly a decade, and the success of the trilogy could pave the way for new entries in the Crash Bandicoot series.

Sony’s mascot is certainly cause for celebration. In a time where Nintendo and Sega were duking it out, Sony dared to do something different. With the PlayStation focusing on hitting a more adult market with its video games, Crash’s personality traits were the perfect embodiment of this, his chaotic attacks carrying with them the same unrelenting ferocity of the PlayStation’s marketing tactics at the time.

Despite his hiatus from the video game world, Crash has a special place in the heart of anyone who grew up playing his games on the PlayStation, and the response to the trilogy remake is testament to the fact that even after all these years and his few appearances, Crash is very much still alive.

In related news, BAPE's next collab is with retro gaming icon CAPCOM.

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