Previously, I wrote a “case for” article for Spyro the Dragon. Spyro is a choice that seemed odd for a myriad of reasons, most having to do with his close association with Sony and status as an icon of Western gaming. Today I will examine a character from a franchise that parallels Spyro’s in many ways. This is a character that was literally the face of the PlayStation, and became the Sonic or the Mario for the PS brand for many years. This character is Crash Bandicoot. Much like Spyro, he is currently the property of Activsion and has had quite a few appearances on Nintendo hardware. It seems, though, that most of the issues we see with Spyro also apply to Crash. Let’s take a closer look.
Dr. Neo Cortex, is, like many video game mad scientists, just out to dominate a world that once ridiculed him. Another similarity he shares with many video game antagonists is a loose grip on sanity, and that may have lead to his creation of his greatest nemesis, a super evolved Bandicoot by the name of Crash. Crash Bandicoot is a heroic, goofy, and even sometimes demented hero that has gone on to foil Cortex’s plans time and time again. He is a tireless defender of the Tasmanian Islands in which he calls home, and is particularly protective of his beloved wumpa fruit.
The Crash Bandicoot franchise began with the eponymous Crash Bandicoot on Sony’s Playstation console in 1996. Crash went on to become the de facto face of platforming for Sony’s first foray into the gaming hardware market, and became such a symbol for the system that many gamers still consider him Sony’s best mascot. Crash made the switch to being multi platform in 2001. This gave the manic marsupial greater exposure, but it also helped ensure that Crash creator Naughty Dog, a Sony subsidiary, would not work on any future installments in the series.
Crash has featured in over 20 games since his inception, with his most recent outings being in Skylanders: Imaginators in 2016. His original trilogy of games is also set to receive an HD remaster on Playstation 4 in 2017. His appearance in Skylanders makes Crash one of the few “guest” characters to appear in that franchise. The two other most notable? Nintendo’s own Bowser and Donkey Kong. To top this off, Crash has even appeared in an episode of the new Netflix Skylanders Academy series. At the height of his popularity, Crash even had a character that would interact with guests at Universal Studios!
Reasons for inclusion:
The first Crash Bandicoot sold over 6.8 million copies, and the series as whole has sold over 50 million units. That is not a small number. That number of games puts Crash over the likes of Mega Man, Solid Snake, and Pac-Man in sales. He is a video game icon that represents Sony’s entry into the marketplace and can be seen as Mario’s chief rival in the 32/64-bit era. Let us remember that Sonic did not have a proper main line series game on the Saturn, after all. So, Crash can make it in on the same merits as Sonic. A huge character that represents a big rivalry for Nintendo’s Mascot. Crash wasn’t just limited to platformers, either. Much like Mario (and current Smash guests such as Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Sonic) Crash had plenty of mascot spin off titles. He has played golf, attended parties, and competed in a variety of racing games. Isn’t it about time he also get’s his Smash on?
Crash has appeared in media outside of games many times in the past. As mentioned previously, Crash recently appeared in an Episode of Skylanders Academy. He also had a manga created by Coro Coro comics in 1998 as well as starring in a set of four animated webisodes in 2007.
While mostly known for his games on Sony platforms, Crash has appeared numerous times on Nintendo hardware. These include games on the Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and DS consoles. It should also be noted that Crash is having a bit of a revival due to his appearance in Skylanders and his upcoming remasters. The relevancy certainly doesn’t hurt the character’s chances. An interesting fact concerning Crash is that he was one of 6 non-Nintendo characters on Sakurai’s “If there was a Smash 2” poll. This was a Japanese poll taken shortly after Smash 64’s release. It is safe to say, then, that Sakurai knows that there was demand for the character at one point. Two other character on that poll? Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Reasons for exclusion:
Listen, I mentioned in the Spyro article that Spyro began life on Sony hardware, was closely associated with the brand, and was created by one of Sony’s most well known studios. Crash is all these things dialed up to 11. Crash is as close as one can get to a PS1 mascot, and to make things worse, unlike Spyro he is still associated with Sony. The remasters of his original games, for example, are only coming out on Sony platforms. So, including him in Smash would just be promoting an upcoming Sony game… to be fair, though, the same thing could be said of Cloud.
As I have mentioned many times before, Crash also suffers from the “Western developed character” problem. Diddy Kong is currently the only character on the roster to not have been created by Japanese developers, and Sakurai has said before that Smash is celebration of Japanese games. On the bright side, Nintendo does seem to currently have a good relationship with Activision, and I personally see them as the most likely Western third party to join Smash after Ubisoft.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Crash makes it in.