Selling over 40-million units, Crash Bandicoot is one of the most successful platforming franchises. September will mark the 20th anniversary of the series as a whole. Crash first appeared on Sony’s PlayStation, back in 1996.

Conceived as “Willie the Wombat“, Sony felt it was necessary to have a leading character. Sega had Sonic, and Nintendo had Mario. Developers Naughty Dog, backed by Universal, created a game to give Sony pulling power.

Crash hasn’t starred in a main series game since 2008. Despite this, the fuzzy marsupial is still loved – and remembered – by many. It is time to have a quick look back at a game which played a significant role in the PlayStation’s history.

Cortex Vortex

“But Doctor Cortex… Why can’t you just admit you are incompetent?”

The great escape

Crash’s story is set in the fictional archipelago of the Wumpa Islands. Doctor Neo Cortex, the antagonist of the series, is on a quest for world domination. By gathering the islands’ animals, and mutates them into becoming his ‘Cortex Commandos’.

Crash is just one of several captured by the mad scientist, along with Ripper Roo and others. Crash manages to escape, and begins to rescue Tawna, a lady bandicoot, who is the ‘damsel in distress’.

Washing ashore on N. Sanity Beach, Crash travels across the Wumpa Islands. The first environments encountered are natural settings full of flora and fauna. As Crash progresses, he navigates man-made areas, such as Cortex’s power station and castle.

Ripper Roo

It may not look it, but Ripper Roo is by far the most sane character in the game

Not-so-hidden gems

The aim of the game is to collect all twenty-six gems scattered throughout the islands. Obtaining a gem requires all crates in the level broken. The player must break all crates,  without losing a life.

Whilst this is easy in earlier levels, there are some which are amongst the most difficult in the entire series. These include Sunset Vista, Jaws of Darkness and Slippery Climb. There was even one level – named Stormy Ascent – removed for being too unforgiving!

The player must collect nineteen clear gems, and a further seven coloured gems. This includes clearing two secret levels, unlocked from passing two (difficult) Cortex bonus stages. 100% completion unlocks an alternate ending, in which Crash and Tawna flee Cortex Castle.

Slippery Climb

The high difficulty of some levels ensured obtaining gems was a genuine challenge

Sequel and beyond

Crash Bandicoot was a massive hit for the PlayStation at the time of release. Its state-of-the-art visuals and cartoon-like quirkiness were selling points. The game was also noted as a major success in 3D platforming.

Labelled as “Sonic’s Ass Game“, Crash’s first adventure was far from perfect. High difficulty, short boss battles, and saving via bonus rounds were poor features.

Further releases improved the popularity of Crash as a franchise. The sequel, Cortex Strikes Back, rectified issues of the original. Crash Bandicoot became the catalyst for Sony and Naughty Dog’s future success…

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