A former PlayStation mascot has been showing his face all over the Internet lately as well as having a few cameos and references throughout a certain game franchise, which is leading many to believe that the loveable orange Bandicoot could be making a triumphant return to form within the next year or so. With the game industry lacking in platformers in recent years and an entire generation that grew up with him now with children who are half-grown themselves, is there still a place for the 1996 mascot on current gen consoles?
As much as my inner child would love to play through yet another grand adventure with the blue jean wearing Bandicoot, my mind recalls a similar aversion of traveling back into a classic franchise that in the end didn’t pan out well at all. If you haven’t already guessed the franchise I am referencing is none other than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Flirting with decade old franchises is both endearing and heartbreaking; endearing because getting the chance to play a classic on current gen consoles is almost too good to pass up and heartbreaking because everything that made the original games classics falls flat in today’s world.
One of the main reasons (and there are many, many, reasons) Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 ate a mouth full of pavement is due to the utter lack of respect both Activsion and Robomodo held for an old classic that could of easily been yet another hit for the series and the developer. They started with what at the time seemed like a brilliant idea, stripping down Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and returning the franchise to its roots, something many developers of long running franchises are starting to consider (Resident Evil franchise, thank god!). In the case of Pro Skater 5, however, it turned out that riding a skateboard with square wheels would be a more enjoyable experience than the gutter trash we ended up with.
The game teetered on being a buggy mess and a straight up unplayable broken definition of a cash grab. The reason I say this is because the licensing deal expired at the end of 2015 and so they decided to rush out a quick half-baked Pro Skater game before losing the license and condemning the franchise for good. This is also why review copies of the game were withheld until the day the game was released. How does all this play into Crash Bandicoot you may wonder? Well not only do the rights to the franchise currently reside under Activision’s roof, but Naughty Dog seems keen on making it known that they are too “mature” to return to such a childish franchise. Nevertheless, Naughty Dog has made claims against doing something specific that later down the line turned out to actually happen i.e, “There’s actually been a conversation about if it were at all possible – which it’s not, let me emphasise – but we wanted to put a Crash Bandicoot game inside [Uncharted 4]. Not gonna happen, though – don’t worry. It’s not our title. Sony doesn’t own it, so we don’t have control,” said Bruce Straley a year ago.
This could give hope that Naughty Dog and Activision might have come to some sort of agreement behind closed doors to allow them to develop a new Crash title under the Naughty Dog name or even retrieve the rights to the license entirely. In the end credits of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, there seems to be no credit given to Activision, which suggests a future release as rumored. Hopefully that is the case, as it’s clear that Activision is not capable of developing a worthwhile or even playable game of yet another classic franchise.