Crash Bandicoot is back, and arguably better than ever. With gamers rediscovering just how harsh the orange marsupial can be, it’s no surprise some gamers are already wondering what comes next for the franchise. With talks of sequels and new titles, I’m quietly hoping that the team over at Vicarious Visions is willing to indulge just a bit more nostalgia before making their first true stamp on the series, delivering a revisit to the much-loved Crash Team Racing.
Everyone’s favorite orange bandicoot spent a good long while there languishing in the pit of forgotten franchises. Activision’s remaster of the original trilogy of titles has not only reignited appetite for more Crash adventures, it’s arguably showcased that any franchise is ripe for return if done correctly.
It’s unlikely Activision would want to retread the games that made their appearance on PlayStation 2 – indicating that a new direction may be sought for the series. Of course at some stage, it’s likely we’ll get a proper sequel to the Remastered collection of titles – given how well their core design has held up since release. Before we get to that (and whatever state it arrives in) I’m quietly hoping that Activision give some equal love to another PlayStation classic – Crash Team Racing.
CTR was Naughty Dog’s final love letter to the Crash franchise. It was the culmination of their efforts within the series, arguably coming when the series was at its most popular. It was the first major attempt to spin the franchise off – delivering a title that rivaled Mario Kart 64 for the best karting title of that generation. While I don’t want to be drawn on which of the two games was better; there’s certainly a strong argument for either game.
The game itself is a testament to the strength of the brand Naughty Dog built. It’s a wonderful swan song that not only played into the tropes of it’s Nintendo rival, it arguably surpassed them on a number of levels. From the way its single player invoked storytelling elements to the roster of characters, CTR is a true gem of a game that mirrored Rare’s Diddy Kong Racing’s best features. Considering the lack of quality karting games on PlayStation, it was a great move.
So popular was Crash Team Racing that it spawned several (admittedly diminishing in quality) sequels. The potential for more was there, it was just never tapped into by the creatives within Activision. Unfortunately it mirrored the situation over in the main slate of Crash Bandicoot titles – a situation where quality dipped and gamers lost interest. There’s no denying that Activision dropped the ball – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be picked up.
Vicarious Visions have done a great job getting people interested in the series again. There’s no doubt that Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy is a solid return to form for the series. While I’m sure the team there are looking to make their own mark on the series at some stage, the franchise is much more than a platformer to many gamers.
Throw in some online multiplayer, sort out the rubber banding issues and give us the same core experience – I don’t think it would be a hard sell. There’s something of a glut when it comes to decent multiplayer karters on Sony’s PlayStation 4 right now – a niche that the game could slot right into. It won’t re-invent the wheel, but it would be fun to play around with. In particular as no other karter seems able to touch Mario Kart 8 and it’s quality right now.
I think for modern audiences just discovering the joys of Crash Bandicoot as a franchise, Crash Team Racing would be the perfect sidearm. It’s a fun game for those of us who played it the first time around – and could easily fit among Sony’s bombastic lineup of AAA-heavy hitters. It won’t sell consoles like Spider-Man or Uncharted, but it would add some much-needed variety to a genre that gets overlooked on Sony’s successful console.
Here’s hoping it won’t be too long before Crash Team Racing makes a triumphant return.