Tuesday, 17 January 2012

For a New Generation

When Sonic was released in 1991, it was Sega's answer to Mario. This is because Sega were looking for a mascot, a character to be the face of the company and give the brand the image of speed and athleticism, which contrasts with the image of Merio.

In 1994, the face of gaming was about to change, with the shift to 3D graphics, the possibilities for games was to be opened up immensely. Naughty Dog, who had been signed by Universal to make three games, set about on making a game for this new generation of systems. However, choosing which platform to put this new character and world on to would have to be right. It couldn't be on the Nintendo 64 because it would be going up against Mario, which is suicide for any new game. It couldn't be the Sega Saturn because Sega were self-imploding at the time. It had to be the unknown quantity, the new kid on the block, the Sony PlayStation.

Naughty Dog founders, Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin, along with Mark Cerny, who was a designer on Sonic 2, agreed that "Sonic's ass game" which Crash was jokingly known as during development, was a great idea.

Crash Bandicoot was referred to as "Sonic's ass game" because that is basically what it is. Think about it, both Sonic and Crash are linear platformers, both have brightly coloured protagonists, stupid villains and both were and still are great games.

Naughty Dog never intended for Crash to become the mascot for the PlayStation. This only happened when Sony agreed to become the game's publisher and market the game themselves. However, since Sony's rivals had one it was natural that a character from one of their games would end up as Sony's mascot. Crash fitted the bill. The first Crash Bandicoot also established a relationship between Naughty Dog and Sony, which led to Sony acquiring Naughty Dog in 2001. Today, Naughty Dog is seen as Sony's number one developer, thanks to the amazing Uncharted series. There will be a lot of eyes on Naughty Dog's latest title, The Last of Us, which has broken the cycle of one franchise per Sony console for Naughty Dog.

The Crash Bandicoot games made by Naughty Dog have stood the test of time. Even by today's standards they are still very fun to play. I think the developers who made those games deserve a lot of credit for that. It's really such a shame that Crash Bandicoot became what it did after Naughty Dog moved on to Jak & Daxter, but since all four of Naughty Dog's Crash games are on the PlayStation Network for PS3/PSP, you can still relive the glory days.

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