When I shook Vicarious Visions Producer Kara Massie’s hand, she told me ‘You can ask me anything… I won’t necessarily answer everything.’ We laughed, knowing the million dollar question about multiple formats for the one-time Sony pseudo-mascot Crash Bandicoot would come up. The PSOne Crash Bandicoot trilogy was published by Sony, making it a platform exclusive, but with Activision now at the helm, the possibility of seeing the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on multiple formats is mouthwatering for some.
And that’s because the series is near and dear to the hearts of many. When I first got my PlayStation off Santa Claus (cheers, fella), I got Formula 1 97, FIFA: Road to World Cup 98, and the original Crash Bandicoot. So, with that in mind, I asked Massie how Vicarious Visions has catered toward the older crowd, while not alienating a new audience of kids that will gravitate towards the cute marsupial.
‘I think the new audience might be older than you’re thinking. I think there’s a lot of awareness of Crash, and he, and the game, have an appeal to a more broader audience than just children. We’re seeing a lot of interest from adult gamers, as well as new audiences,’ Massie went onto say that because of the old fogies having some human additions in their lives, Crash Bandicoot will probably pick up some new fans. ‘The nostalgic audience; a lot of those people have kids. We’re seeing some of that around the studio. Some of the developers’ kids will wander in and they’ll pick it up, and it’s easy to play.’
‘Our primary focus has been on the nostalgic and hardcore players — that’s our priority,’ Massie stated, which should assure fans of the original games. ‘If we want to introduce anything to the game, or shift anything, or add anything to help a new player, it can never be at the sacrifice of doing right by those nostalgic and hardcore fans.’
When it comes to new players, she mentioned that things such as hints during the loading screens, or DDA (Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment) being added to the motorcycle sections of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped should lend a helping hand, without massively hindering those who are looking for that old-school challenge. There’s a lot pressure in bringing back a series that many love, a pressure that Vicarious Visions are all too aware of.
‘We’ve studied the hell out of the original games and all the material that exists around it. Everybody really knows what needs to be done,’ which should alleviate the worries of the Crash-loving ones developing crow’s feet. ‘[The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy team] also know what needs to be done to make a great animation, or make a great environment, or make a great soundtrack. They not only understand the brand really well, they trust their own sensibility, and their own work.’
It’s clear in Massie’s voice that she gets why people reflect fondly on original developer Naughty Dog’s titles. ‘The letters we get are so heartfelt. [Crash Bandicoot fans have] really strong memories and a real strong sense of “don’t screw this up! Don’t mess up my memories” and that can be a little bit intense…We just held our breath [and] did our best work.’
But what about Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is inherently Vicarious Visions’? ‘I think it’s hard to articulate how much,’ Massie mused. She said the team can add a little fun to an animation if it improves things, or add a few sounds to a moment if it’s going to make it more immersive’ She equated it to taking those games from the 90s into the 10s, more so than the studio tinkering heavily with what’s come before. ‘I don’t think it’s so much necessarily [putting] our personal stamp [on Crash Bandicoot], it’s just modernising it. The tech allows us for a lot more content, generally, so I think it’s just a product of making a contemporary game.’
And if the remaster proves fruitful, is there any chance we might see a Crash 4? Or maybe even a remastered edition of the popular Crash Team Racing?
‘I wouldn’t be surprised — those decisions happen way over my pay grade. I just get told what I’ll be working on,’ but with a smile on her face, Massie said ‘I’d love to work on another Crash title. It’s becoming really clear there’s a lot of demand and a lot of love for Crash. Basically, it’s a wait and see.’
Since its announcement, people have wondered if this will be making its way to Xbox One, or PC — maybe even Nintendo Switch. Since Activision purchased the IP in 2008, Crash has appeared on other platforms than just Sony’s, so I asked if there’s any hope we’ll see the N. Sane Trilogy on other consoles, or PC. Massie chuckled.
‘It’s one of my most asked questions….I can’t answer that. Sorry.’
Well, at least we know that Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy will be on PlayStation 4 come June 30.