Crash Bandicoot is pretty easily gaming’s most famous marsupial. Sorry Ty, Willy and Khangaskhan, but when it comes to gaming marsupial royalty, it’s got to be Crash Bandicoot and then a pretty big gap before you get to pretenders to the throne.
Well, at least until I get a games company to pay me millions for the rights to Penny The Potaroo vs Nancy The Numbat: DEATH FIGHT, anyway. I’m open to offers on that one.
Crash Bandicoot has a very long, very bumpy history when it comes to video games, and while I’m happy to see that Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time managed to break the Crash Curse, it’s well worth knowing why there’s a Crash Curse in the first place.
To do that, we have to step back in time and take a look at the history of Crash Bandicoot games, and as it turns out, their pretty freakishly insane advertising strategies. Don’t believe me? Very well. Set the time machine for 24 years ago(!) and let’s get started.
1996: Crash Bandicoot
Crash’s journey into gaming history starts with the original, Naughty Dog developed Crash Bandicoot. He wasn’t officially Sony’s PlayStation 1 mascot, but he may as well have been.
Can I play it now? Yes, pretty easily. While it was a PSOne exclusive at the time, the simplest way to get your original Crash fix on would be via the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, the remastered collection of the first 3 games.
1997: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Crash was a big hit for its time, so naturally there was a more-of-the-same sequel the following year.
Can I play it now? Yep, via that same Crash Bandicoot N.Sane trilogy pack would be the simplest way.
1998: Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
The last of the “classic” Crash trilogy, still developed by Naughty Dog.
Can I play it now? Again, this is in the N.Sane Trilogy.
1999: Crash Team Racing
No, scary Crash Mascot Man, I do not “want a piece of you”.
Naughty Dog’s Crash swan song saw the original PlayStation take on Mario Kart in an effort that’s not quite as polished as Nintendo’s efforts of the era, although it did have sharper visuals than Mario Kart 64 could muster. It’s a much-beloved game for at least giving it a go and producing a playable kart racer for the PSOne, a console that had many mediocre-to-terrible kart racers, and I say that as someone who has finished Muppet Racemania for my sins.
Can I play it now? You sure can, thanks to 2019’s Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled, which is a shinier remake of Naughty Dog’s classic. You can read Kotaku’s review here.
2000: Crash Bash
It was the dawning of a new millenium in Crash Bandicoot history, so what gamers really craved was a dull collection of minigames with a Crash Bandicoot theme.
OK, most of them didn’t. Like so many attempts to grab whatever magic there is in the Mario Party formula, Crash Bash was a bit of a bore.
Can I play it now? No sign of a remaster of Crash Bash, so you’d have to dust off a PSOne if you were feeling nostalgic for some reason.
2001: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex
What is it with terrifying Crash TV spots? Regardless, in the generational jump, Crash moved from Naughty Dog to Traveller’s Tales – yes, the folks who now churn out endless LEGO games – and also lost his PlayStation exclusivity, although it did launch on the PS2 first before being released for the OG Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
Although if you want slightly unusual connections, that’s also the same Traveller’s Tales responsible for Muppet Racemania. I still bear the scars, all those years later.
Can I play it now? If you’ve still got a PS2, Xbox or GameCube, for sure – and it also saw release on the Xbox 360 as a download title for a time, but this isn’t a particularly great game in any real respect.
2002: Crash Bandicoot XS: The Huge Adventure
That might just be my favourite ever Crash Bandicoot ad. I’m sure the lack of terrifying mascot characters has little to do with it.
Crash makes the jump to a portable console in the form of Crash Bandicoot XS (as it was here in Australia, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure elsewhere), this Gameboy Advance game took the core Crash experience and shrunk it down for Nintendo’s tiny console. For a mobile platformer, it’s still pretty good, too.
Can I play it now? With a Gameboy Advance, sure. Remasters seem unlikely at this stage.
2003: Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced
Another year, another portable Crash Bandicoot game, and a growing trend towards chilly critical reception, with most reviewers stating that Crash platform games were starting to get a little stale.
Can I play it now? Again, you’d need a GameBoy Advance and a copy, because these are the least likely Crash games to see remaster treatment.
2004: Crash Twinsanity/Crash Nitro Kart/ Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage
Parts of my brain had blanked out the very existence of Steve-O before I watched that ad above. Crash Twinsanity was at least an attempt at something different, with Crash teaming up with Dr Neo Cortex to take on evil twin parrots.
Hey, I said it was different. That’s not quite the same thing as good, because this is yet another deeply average Crash game.
Can I play it now? Again, this is a non-remastered game, so you’ll need a PS2 or Xbox to get your twin Crash action on.
I do think I prefer the idea of a Crash Toy than the scary mascot, although I could give the whole bikini babe aspect a miss.
Crash Nitro Kart was – you guessed it – a kart racer, and one of only two Crash Bandicoot games released for the Nokia N-Gage.
Can I play it now? There are parts of the gameplay from Nitro Kart in the Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled remake, so yeah… sort of.
Crash Bandicoot Purple is a bit of an oddity, although it was part of a trend of “two part” Gameboy Advance games of its time. Crash delves into the world of Spyro the Dragon — there was an equivalent Spyro game that saw you take on Dr Neo Cortex – and it’s apparently a solid, if unremarkable mobile platform game.
Can I play it now? Again, dust off that GameBoy Advance or early model Nintendo DS, and you’re all set.
2005: Crash Tag Team Racing
The third Crash racing game, and 2005’s only Crash Bandicoot hit came in the form of Crash Tag Team Racing. I’ve not played this one, although given that tag team mechanic and the many hours I spent playing Mario Kart Double Dash, I sort of feel like I have.
Reviewers were not kind, noting just how generic Crash games had become by this point.
Can I play it now? Again, if you want your Crash kart fix, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled is the way to go.
2006: Crash Boom Bang!
A Nintendo DS exclusive Crash Bandicoot multiplayer party game, and another one that isn’t part of my own Crash library. Then again, based the reviews of the time that derided it for being hopelessly generic and very little to do with the Crash Bandicoot universe, maybe that’s for the best.
Can I play it now? If you’ve got a DS and a wish for tedium, apparently you can.
2007: Crash of The Titans
That Crash Mascot costume is GODDAMNED TERRIFYING.
That aside, Crash of the Titans saw another developer jump, with Radical Entertainment covering the primary console (PS2/Xbox 360/Wii) versions, also ported to PSP by SuperVillain games and developed separately for Nintendo handhelds by Amaze Entertainment.
I’ll admit, this is one I’ve never played, but the plot of Crash of The Titans sounds like it was written by an adolescent boy. Crash must defeat Neo Cortex by “jacking” into Titans, rescue his sister and once again save the Wumpa islands. Critics weren’t thrilled by this one. Maybe they had a visit from that mascot.
Can I play it now? Again, unported, although we’re getting a little more current with a Nintendo DS version that should run on a 3DS if you’ve still got one of those.
2008: Crash: Mind Over Mutant/Crash Nitro Kart 3D
Is Crash better or worse with a human face sticking out of his mascot costume? I’m tending to think worse.
Also worse was Crash Bandicoot Mind Over Mutant, a game that was just deeply dull at the time compared to what was current in 2008 gaming. I do still have a copy of Mind over Mutant on my games shelf, and it’s essentially just a dust gatherer now.
Can I play it now? Well, I can personally, but I’m not likely to. It was a widely ported game at the time with versions for PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS and later for the PS3 via digital download.
Crash Nitro Kart 3D sees Crash’s racing ambitions go into the mobile space, with N-Gage, Symbian and iOS releases of yet another Crash racing game. It was one of the earliest iOS games in fact, but it wasn’t terribly well received, and given that timeframe it’s not hard to see why. The iPhone was indeed very hot as a smartphone at the time, but mobile gaming had a fair way to go in terms of responsive control schemes.
Can I play it now? If your mum still has a really old iPhone that never got updated, maybe.
2010: Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2
Astonishingly, up until Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, this was the most recently developed game in Crash Bandicoot history, a terribly mediocre mobile racer for iOS only, although one that reviewers did notice at least fixed some of the bugs of the original.
Can I play it now? Scour those op shops for a non-broken iPod Touch (good luck!) or your dad’s desk drawer for an iPhone that can still run 32-bit apps, and then… maybe? It featured multiplayer modes too, and I seriously doubt those servers are still active.
2020: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
After the success of N. Sane Trilogy, it wasn’t a surprise that a new Crash game was on the horizon. Released in October of last year, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a direct sequel to Crash Bandicoot: Warped, rendering the last two decades of Crash games as non-canon.
Congrats, you’re now up to date with the history of Crash Bandicoot.
Can I play it now? You can currently play Crash Bandicoot 4 on PS4 and Xbox One/Series X. The Nintendo Switch edition hasn’t been released yet, but it’ll be available from March 12. You can read Kotaku’s review for Crash Bandicoot 4 here.