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Cuckoo for Coco

I'm trying to write new articles less frequently, but stuff like today's topic is just too interesting to pass. The announcement that Coco is fully playable in the N. Sane Trilogy came right out of left field, but it's all fans have been talking about recently, and for very good reasons.

The words "fully playable Coco" always make me wince, because she's never been handled adequately in the past. Her first playable appearance in WARPED was limited to vehicle levels, she was restricted to the second controller in Mind Over Mutant, and the less we talk about The Wrath of Cortex the better. Not only that, but I've always found her very dull as a playable character compared to Crash, thanks to being so stoic and having much fewer animations.

Fortunately, Vicarious Visions has changed all that. They made a real effort to make Coco as fun as Crash while giving everyone a new way to enjoy these classics. A lot of people have been awaiting this for a long time, and I'm just now finding out that I want it too. Given the nature of these remakes and how inconsequential Coco was in the original games, I never would have predicted her to be playable, but I couldn't be happier with the result.

The team gave Coco all of Crash's abilities and even super powers (though restrictions still seem to apply according to each game, so no sliding in the first one, for example). If you've read my previous article about playable characters, you'll know that I find this approach very reasonable. Sometimes you don't need a character that plays different, just as long as you like who you pick. Luckily, there's a lot to like about Coco this time around.

img_rightTo start with, Coco's animations are phenomenal! Whenever she lost a life in previous games, she'd do something generic like get dizzy and fall back, or turn into an angel, or something like that. This was in stark contrast to Crash's plentiful (and hilarious) deaths, since Coco was kind of a no nonsense character. This time, however, she's affected by hazards in very much the same way as her zanier brother. She actually gets crushed by boulders, flings her shoes (and laptop) up in the air after falling into a pit, gets burned to a crisp (I'm assuming), and so on. They even gave her an animation of her own for N. Sanity Beach's intro, when they could have simply just cut that sequence altogether. Now that's going the extra mile!

I welcome this change wholeheartedly. It makes her feel like a more dynamic and comedic partner while still retaining all of her main features. For instance, you'll notice that Coco still carries her pink laptop with her all the time, and sometimes she'll start typing if you leave her idle for too long. Speaking of idle animations, selfies are among the last things I think of when I'm playing Crash, but I'll be darned if Coco's face isn't hilarious when she does it. Even her animations for retrieving a gem are both creative and fun to watch (I particularly like it when she types on her laptop to produce a gem). Little details like these make Coco a wholly unique character instead of a mere unlockable skin.

Not only that, but the new Coco is adorable! If you like cutesy characters who are also funny, then you're going to love playing the N. Sane Trilogy as her. This is by far and wide my favorite Coco design to date, and the awesome animations really bring her to life. Add Pura to the mix and you'll have to restrain yourself to not hug the screen (what happens when they trip is so cute even the manliest of lumberjacks will want to pinch their cheeks). I think... I think I'll be playing as her more often than Crash! It'll be so much fun playing as someone different in three of my favorite childhood games.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things behind the decision to make Coco playable is that there's actually a plot-related reason for it. It even explains why she's in the first game now: When you play the new version of WARPED, you'll notice that Coco is now fiddling with what used to be the Load/Save monitor in the Time Twister. She's actually hacking the Time Twister to allow access to the events from the first two games (you'll even see some screenshots appearing on-screen). This means the Coco you can play as is actually traveling through time to help Crash before the events of WARPED. That is pure genius.

To further drive the point home, Coco will always switch with Crash whenever you're about to fight a boss or talk to someone in the Warp Room. This is done to prevent plot holes (and, one can assume, time paradoxes) and keep the story in the trilogy intact. It's also worth noting that Coco can't access Crash's vehicle/animal levels, and vice-versa (whether she can ride Baby-T remains to be seen). However, that's not even the most interesting thing behind the presence of a time-traveling Coco, at least as far as speculation goes...

Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? It's a concept that basically tells you how even the smallest actions have a large influence on various (often seemingly unrelated) outcomes. Imagine that Coco's time travels are changing the course of history just enough to create a new timeline after WARPED. What I'm getting at is that we now have a completely justified reason for a reboot, should the developers decide to create a new continuation from WARPED.

A split in the timeline is the perfect chance to reintroduce more fan favorite characters (or even events) without actually remaking the games they first appeared in, or just do something different altogether. It's also the best way to deal with all the plot holes and confusing alternate universes that arose from having so many different developers after Naughty Dog. In other words, the N. Sane Trilogy can act as the root for a whole new timeline separate from the original one. It's just a thought, and we still don't know how things will actually go from here, but it's pretty crazy to think that a playable Coco may help determining the storyline's direction.

I think that's all I have to say about this right now. It seems like every time I learn something new about the N. Sane Trilogy, the more I want to play it. In fact, there is also news of an online leaderboard for time trials, which is something I've wanted ever since the trilogy was announced. And to think that we're less than 2 weeks away...!

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