The Common Misconceptions of Crash

With a series as big and diversified as Crash Bandicoot, it's no wonder that some misinformation has become widespread during the course of the franchise's history. For the sake of correcting false rumors and to share a bit of trivia, I thought it would be fun to go over some of the most common misconceptions still being spread to this day. I apologize in advance if any of these eye-openers upset you in any way, but rest assured that my only intention is to provide the fans with a more accurate understanding of the series. So let's get started!

Universal Caused Tawna to Get the Boot

There's been a story making the rounds on the Internet about how Tawna, Crash's ex-girlfriend, was removed from the series because of an overzealous marketing director at Universal. I should know; I was the one who conducted the interview where that information came from. There are always two sides to every story, though.

While this marketing director did, indeed, succeed in toning down the sex appeal in Tawna's design (and really, considering this was a family game, it's hard to blame her), Naughty Dog had other reasons for wanting to get rid of the character. According to one of the character designers from the first game, Charles Zembillas, Naughty Dog was trying their best to establish a good relationship with Sony Japan, who were not fond of Tawna at all. The solution? Replace her with a modest sister figure. Here's a quote from Charles himself:

Coco was created as a counter balance to Tawna who was Bandicoot's girlfriend. She came along because ND was sensitive to Sony Japan and wanted to please them. Sony Japan didn't feel comfortable with a super sexy character with Crash so ND went with a sister character instead to appease them.
Source

If we're going to be neutral about this whole situation, there is no hard evidence that Naughty Dog wouldn't have discarded the character anyway. That's beside the point, though: saying that Tawna was kicked out of the franchise because of Universal is inaccurate at best, because even if you believe her design change had a hand in it, there were other factors behind that decision.

Naughty Dog Sold the Rights to the Series

This assumption is as old as they come, but plenty are those who still believe Naughty Dog sold Crash to Universal. The truth is a bit more complicated than that. Naughty Dog never actually owned the rights to the franchise, since they created the first three games under a contract with Universal Interactive Studios, as it was known at the time. The contract stipulated that Universal (the publisher) would own the property from the get-go, so while the games were initially developed under the Naughty Dog brand, this was never meant to last forever. Naughty Dog were simply the developers, and that's usually where people get it wrong (in fact, this sort of thing happens with other developers sometimes, so it's not too uncommon to see claims like Radical Entertainment having canceled Crash for a while, when that was solely decided by their owner, Activision).

So what about CTR, you might ask? Well, Universal wanted at least one more Crash game with Naughty Dog at the helm, and the latter agreed to it as long as Sony acted as a middle-man. See, Naughty Dog was never particularly fond of the way Universal did things, and they would rather not have to interact with them. This is why you don't see the Universal logo when you boot up this particular game. Still, imagine if Naughty Dog had never agreed to a fourth game. It really makes you think how different things would have been without CTR's existence, doesn't it? We came very close to not having any racing games in the series.

Crash 2 Originally Didn't Have Analog Controls

The much beloved Crash Bandicoot 2 was released in 1997, back when Sony introduced their so-called Analog Controller for the original PlayStation. Not many people remember it, but despite lacking vibration (outside Japan, at least), this short-lived alternative to the stickless controllers was similar to the more well-known DualShock that came later. Since the Analog Controller was released around the same time as Crash 2, many people didn't get to play the game with the more precise controls offered by analog sticks. It's one of the reasons fans often misremember the game as lacking analog controls, but there's more behind this common misconception.

Early PS1 games like this one don't turn on Analog Mode automatically (indicated by the little red light in the middle of the controller), requiring you to press the toggle button yourself. As such, it's very easy to jump the gun and assume the game doesn't support this kind of controls, and some players even think they were only introduced in the Greatest Hits/Platinum version later on. In truth, they were always there from the start.

But wait, there's more! The game's digital rerelease on the PlayStation 3 actually does not let you switch to Analog Mode. This is an oversight acknowledged by Sony (acknowledged, but never fixed), and it's the single biggest contributing factor to this whole confusion. To clarify, it only happens in the digital version if it's running on a PS3. Should you transfer that very same version to a PS Vita, you'll see that the problem isn't there, and you can switch to Analog Mode that way (I haven't tested this on a PSP, but I assume the result is the same). Likewise, using an original disc copy on the PS3 lets you use the almighty sticks as intended, so long as you remember to turn Analog Mode on. Nice going there, Sony.

The Twinsanity Credits Play the Theme from Gone a Bit Coco

I had no idea about this until recently, but it seems that some fans decided that one unused Twinsanity theme that plays in the credits belongs to a removed level, Gone a Bit Coco. Here is the theme in question:

Unfortunately, doing things by process of elimination doesn't necessarily yield the correct answers. The official soundtrack release labels this track as an unused version of Boiler Room Doom, in a similar fashion to the alternate theme for Classroom Chaos. Even the masters for the soundtrack use the same file name (which is misspelled as "Broiler Room Doom"). Fortunately, some efforts already appear to have been made to stop the false rumor from spreading further.

For all we know, the music for Gone a Bit Coco might have never even existed. It certainly wasn't included in the soundtrack along with the other unused themes, at least. But hey, you never know...

Trippo Was a Removed CTR Character

Before I get into this, I should stress that I'm not able to provide concrete evidence at the moment, so even though you have my word of honor, it's perfectly reasonable to take this with a grain of salt.

A long time ago, one of Naughty Dog's former artists, Bob Rafei, uploaded a picture of a blue hippo in a pilot outfit simply described as Trippo. Everyone (myself included) immediately assumed he was an unused character for CTR, since it was grouped with pictures Bob did of Nitros Oxide, the game's villain. In fact, as of the time of this writing, Bob Rafei's web site still has Oxide and this Trippo character in the same gallery.

The fact of the matter is that Trippo isn't a CTR character, and he has nothing to do with Crash Bandicoot whatsoever. According to a fan Q&A that I now believe to be long gone, Bob Rafei commented on the mysterious hippopotamus, and he clarified that the character was designed for a friend's brand identity.

I've contacted Bob about this, but unfortunately, I've yet to receive an answer. For that reason, and since I can no longer find the original Q&A containing his answer, I'm sorry to say that I can't actually prove what I'm saying. At the same time, I'm hopeful that this article will lead Bob to release another statement about this, one way or another. If he does, I will update the article accordingly.

UPDATE (May 19, 2019): The user Wickon in the comments has located the Q&A I mentioned! He's actually the one who conducted it years ago, and we now have the answer where Bob Rafei explains what the character was for:

If I recall correctly Trippo was character design I did for a friend who was developing airfare search engine and was looking for a mascot of sorts, and not part of CTR designs. I should have placed it in another category, but honestly, I've been too busy with BRB projects and family to keep up the site!

Thank you very much for the help, Wickon!

Pura Is a Girl

A lot of people will adamantly defend that Pura is a female tiger. If I had to guess why, I'd say that perhaps this originated from the logic that if Crash and his pet polar bear are boys, Coco's pet must be a girl. Or maybe 'Pura' just sounds like a girl's name. Whatever the case is, you'll find that Pura is always referred to as a male in all of his official descriptions, all the way back to the original CTR manual:

Pura likes agility, so his kart handles better than others. He's lost a bit of speed from this, but boy can his kart take those tight corners!

The same thing happens in his epilogue from the same game:

His starring role came to a disastrous end one day when Pura accidentally closed his mouth 'a bit too early.'

If you're still not convinced, note that in Crash: Boom, Bang!, the suddenly anthropomorphic Pura wears nothing but a pair of pants. Japan tends to depict anthropomorphic animals fully covered when they're female, at least in family-friendly games.

And just to drive the point home, here is what Pura's original designer, Charles Zembillas, had to say on the matter:

I assumed Pura, which didn't have a name at the time I was working on the character, to be male. When he was given a name I wasn't sure if ND had decided to make him a her. All the name decisions came from internal discussions at ND which I was not involved with.
— Source

Since we know Naughty Dog definitely didn't try to make Pura a female, it's safe to say the striped fur ball is a boy. But hey, if you prefer to think otherwise, don't let me spoil your fun. Headcanon will always be a thing, after all.

Penta Appears in the PS1 Version of Warped

This one's kind of tricky, and it requires a fair bit of context. Penta Penguin is best known as a secret playable character in Crash Team Racing, but he's actually from a separate Crash universe, namely that of the manga known as Dansu! De Jump! Na Daibouken. This explains why he can only be unlocked with a cheat code.

A lot of fans think the penguin you see being threatened by Dingodile in Warped (PS1) is the same character, but there's nothing indicating that. Penta does look a bit different from the penguin in Warped and everything — most notably, he wears a purple scarf.

Still, let's think of a counterpoint — maybe Naughty Dog just didn't have time to make a unique model for him, right? After all, this is exactly what happened in Crash Team Racing, as even though he looks like himself when he's driving his kart, Naughty Dog didn't produce a more detailed model for when he's standing on the podium and simply reused the generic penguin model from previous games. While this is good deductive reasoning, there is something else to consider.

The manga chapter where Penta first appears was published around the same time Warped came out. In order for him to be in the game, Naughty Dog would have had to know about him in advance, and that would imply changing Dingodile's intro from something else. Not only that, but there are several unique characters besides Penta in the manga, and to go through the trouble of specifically adding him before his popularity was even measured seems unlikely. It's also worth noting that Dingodile's battle takes place in the ice age, while Penta lives in the present day. And again, without the scarf, the reference would be lost on anyone who would actually get to know the character back then (i.e. fans in Japan).

Personally, I believe that he's just some random penguin, if only due to the principle of Occam's razor (the explanation that requires the least amount of speculation is usually correct). It just seems too unlikely that he would be Penta. Unfortunately, without official word on the matter, we can't actually say for sure that someone from Japan knew Penta was going to be in the manga in a few months and influenced Naughty Dog to hastily include an unfaithful cameo of him... no matter how absurd that sounds. See where I'm going with this?

Curiously, the trophy/achievement for defeating Dingodile in the N. Sane Trilogy is called "Penta's Revenge"... even though the penguin still looks like every other generic penguin enemy. It seems like Vicarious Visions decided that, at least in their version of the game, the penguin is supposed to be Penta. Too bad they didn't add his scarf just to make that a bit clearer. I wonder if trophy descriptions should even be considered for this kind of thing?

I'm very confident that Penta is not the penguin in the original Warped, but I'm deeming this as unproven simply because there's no irrefutable evidence at the moment. Maybe someday we'll get an official statement on this.

UPDATE (May 19, 2019): For what it's worth, MenDude in the comments explains that the internal name for the penguin in the game's files is simply called 'obj_penguin', which again doesn't suggest anything Penta-related.

And so we've reached the end of our list. I hope this was interesting and enlightening for you, and as always, you're welcome to discuss it all in the comments. Do you know of any other misconceptions being thrown around? I'd be glad to read about them, and I might even add them to the article at a later date!

Oh yeah, and Crash Bandicoot isn't a fox. He's a bandicoot.
Almost forgot that one.


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