Crash Bandicoot Remastered: What to Expect?

With the recent announcement of the original Crash Bandicoot games being fully remastered for the PlayStation 4, fans around the world are overjoyed, curious, and even confused. We know it's coming next year and we know Vicarious Visions are behind this project, but other than that, there's very little information about this upcoming revival. I propose we take a good look at what we do know so far to have a better perception of what to expect.

Not only that, but I also propose we speculate. Because speculating is fun. But first let's try to make some sense out of this whole thing.

Remaster or Remake?

This is the question on everyone's mind. Ever since Shawn Layden announced a remaster of Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and WARPED at E3, we've all been wondering what exactly he meant by his short yet contradictory description, namely that the games are being, and I quote: "fully remastered from the ground up".

This doesn't make a lot of sense in and of itself. Remastering a work usually means giving it a few touches to improve the overall look and/or sound, while preserving everything that people remember about it. A typical game remaster could be a simple resolution bump to make the graphics sharper. This is why the second part of Shawn's description makes things confusing. You either remaster something or you build it again from the ground up. These two things just don't mix.

Like most things in this article, I want to point out that the following is pure speculation, so don't take any of my thoughts at face value. That said, I think remastering the games in the true sense of the word is out of the question. You only really have two options when you go down this route: you can port the games to the PlayStation 4, or you can emulate them with a higher screen resolution, among another minor perk or two.

Artist's rendition of a lazy port.

The first option would be extremely hard - all three games were coded in GOOL, a very specific tool created by Andy Gavin and Dave Baggett that no other developers really know how to work with (and there's a lot of other technical difficulties that, for the sake of keeping it simple, I won't go into). If Vicarious Visions are going to put that much effort into it, they might as well remake the whole thing and make it look like an actual PlayStation 4 game, don't you think? Conversely, the second option would just be lazy. Slapping the games onto an emulator would just be insulting, especially considering this would make it impossible to give the games modern standards like widescreen, which is the bare minimum in this day and age. This would hardly be worthy of the name "Remastered", and I seriously doubt it's ever crossed the developers' minds.

But that's not all. As you've no doubt already noticed, Crash's appearance in Skylanders Imaginators is also being developed by Vicarious Visions, and they put a lot of effort into redesigning the character in a way that could appeal to as many fans as possible, especially the older ones. They even went as far as digging up concept art and design documents that are of legal age to drink. I don't think this whole process was done just for a guest appearance in a game that isn't even Crash-related. Thus, if they're going to have this new design in the remasters, the games will logically have to be remade from scratch.

Seeing Crash's archipelago in HD for the first time could be truly amazing.

"Then why is the term 'remastered' being used to begin with?", I hear you asking. Honestly speaking, I think it's more of a buzzword. Not just because it's got a nice ring to it (I'm already imagining Cortex and Uka Uka announcing the title "Crash Bandicoot REMASTERED" when you pop in the disc), but also because the remasters are meant to be a nostalgia trip. What do I mean by this? It's quite simple...

The PS1 Crash games were always extremely popular, and there are tons of people out there who, like me, have very fond and personal memories of them. It's only natural that those wanting to relive those memories need to be reassured that this upcoming project still has everything that made the original games great. Thus, even if the games are being totally remade, the term "remastered" implies that all the key points that made them work will still be there. Whether Vicarious Visions succeeds or not is something that remains to be seen, but I would like to point out that if there's anything they've proven with their experience with the franchise, it's that they can recreate the gameplay and feel of the PS1 games to a T (at least as far as the platformers are concerned; Crash Nitro Kart was a bit of a misstep).

What Changes Can We Expect?

Crash's appearance in Skylanders Imaginators could be a clue.

If we assume that the games are, indeed, being totally remade, the possibilities suddenly open up a lot more. I've mentioned that modern graphics are almost certainly a no-brainer, and I'm confident that Crash's design used in Skylanders Imaginators is going to be used in the remasters as well (if I had to take a guess, I'd say they will keep his proportions closer to the promotional art, if only because there has to be a reason behind the art looking different from his in-game model, and also because it makes Crash much closer to his original design).

The voices would most definitely be redone as well. Audio standards have improved quite drastically since the PS1 era, and the original dialog sounds lackluster on more advanced set-ups (heck, even in old TVs WARPED sounded quite muffled whenever someone was speaking). Not only that, but if Skylanders Imaginators is of any indication, the newer voice actors are probably going to reprise their roles. We already have Jess Harnell as Crash and Greg Eagles as Aku Aku in that game, so it wouldn't be farfetched to assume that Lex Lang will be Cortex, Debi Derryberry will be Coco, and so on.

The music is a similar case. The original soundtracks heard in-game weren't high-fidelity, as the quality suffered with the conversion to the PS1. We don't know if Vicarious Visions are planning to have an in-house composer to remake the soundtrack, but we do know that the original composer, Josh Mancell, hasn't been contacted about the subject (although he's openly mentioned that he'd be onboard for the whole thing).

Gameplay-wise, I've already pointed out that Vicarious Visions is experienced in making their games feel like the PS1 trilogy, and now they have an even better excuse to do so. My guess is that the levels and object placement won't change too drastically, but I still hope the team won't be afraid to change things where they need to be changed. After all, the original games are far from perfect, and there are a few pockets of level design that can be a bit rough around the edges, most notably in the first game. Speaking of which, I believe this is the game that will change the most.

Sometimes I wake up at night in a cold sweat as I see flashes of Sunset Vista before my eyes.

The original Crash Bandicoot has always felt a bit alien compared to the sequels, as Naughty Dog was still experimenting with a lot of things. Supposedly, the remastered games will all be part of a single package, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were unified in terms of gameplay and perks (like the crate counter, for one). Maybe we'll be able to play Crash 1 with the controls and extra moves from the sequels, but even if we don't, I'm sure they'll at least fix the awful checkpoint and save systems (in fact, I'd be surprised if all 3 games didn't auto-save now). I mean, breaking all the crates without losing a life is the only reason I never go for 100% in the first game anymore.

Since we're speculating about things they could add, how about Time Trials in Crash 1 and 2? It would definitely be quite interesting, and now that we're no longer in the late nineties, they would do well in creating online leaderboards for some good old-fashioned competition, and perhaps even the ability to race against other people's ghosts. I think these are all things that could make the games feel fresh while still retaining their original qualities at the same time. I do think Time Trials should be optional, though, at least in the first two games.

A fixed camera doesn't have to be a bad thing.

There is also something else I'd like to see addressed: backtracking. Running against the camera after the road split so you could break all the crates was never fun, and it was easily the thing I disliked the most about Crash 2 since it was so frequent there. I've seen people suggest there should be a camera flip button to make things easier, and I think it's a terrific idea. At the very least I think the camera should be pulled back more when you start running towards it so you can see where you're going (I never really understood why they only did this for chase scenes).

People have also been wondering about the story. Will there be extra cutscenes, or will they stick to the Warp Room dialog? Is Crash 1 going to show the intro when you start a new game instead of hiding it in the idle demo? When you think about it, there are a lot of improvements that could be done in this regard. I'd like to see a bit of subtle foreshadowing leading up to Coco and Uka Uka's appearances, just so they don't seem shoehorned into the plot. Likewise, it would be interesting to see what happens to Tawna after the end of Crash 1. Maybe they can even show Crash interacting with her in the beginning, or how Crash and Aku Aku first meet, or even the growing conflict between Nitrus Brio and Cortex. These are all interesting things that have always been told through the manual, and now would be a good time to actually show them.

Time Will Tell

The only thing we know with absolute certainty right now is that Vicarious Visions has what it takes to revive the brand. They've shown tremendous dedication with Skylanders Imaginators already, and there's no reason to think they'll stop there. All we can do right now is wait and speculate, but that's always been part of the fun.

What do you think the remasters will be like? Do you have a different point of view or anything you'd like to add? If so, post your thoughts in the comments and share your opinion!


Comments

Smaz | June 22, 2016 - 10:41 PM
This pretty much summed up my own conclusions and reasoning as to to why these will be more "remakes" than "remasters". I also think Crash 1 will change the most, out of all of them, although I've recently been thinking about how this may also include the level select. You see, Crash 1 had a linear level path, compared to 2 and WARPED, but it could very well change a bit to allow the option to select one out of five or so levels before challenging the boss, as with the other games. The map can still stay, since seeing the islands was always a joy of the first game, but I think the level path system may change to be more like 2's and WARPED's in terms of options. I also think it would be interesting to add Coco straight in at Crash 1 and actually have a more co-op approach with her with a second player, but that's probably just me and may be difficult to implement without changing some of the levels a bit.


nicotoutcourt | June 23, 2016 - 12:04 AM
What you've said in this article pretty much sums up my expectations for this Crash revival - I seriously hope Vicarious Visions won't take the easy and lazy way, and seize the opportunity to change what has to be changed in the original trilogy. Being able to control the camera, for instance, would be a great thing. Personally, I'm all for changing things a bit - why not add some of Crash's new moves from Skylanders, for instance? I like his TNT-throwing attack, and that would add some diversity to the gameplay. Story-wise, I agree that this is an opportunity to tie things properly, and include references to Coco and Uka Uka from the start. I'd even go as far as hoping they include references to other games of the franchise - I'd like to see them mention Nina Cortex, Cortex's past in the Academy of Evil, or stuff like that. Because this trilogy isn't just about remaking the games, it's about reintroducing the Crash series to a whole new audience, or to an audience that has'nt played Crash for a while - it's about re-establishing the whole Crash mythology, so I'd be glad if they referenced other characters than those included in the original trilogy. Or even an in-game encyclopedia of all characters of the franchise, in a similar fashion to what's been done with the HoloCards in the Ratchet and Clank PS4 remake?


Ricardo | June 23, 2016 - 05:13 PM
I would like to know, what Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin think about this...


Sypress | June 24, 2016 - 04:09 AM
Basically how I feel about it as well, with Crash 1 experiencing the most change. What I do hope for, in terms of story, is not only a better connection between the three games but also maybe hints into what could possibly come next? Like I see this as a good chance to sort've "restart" everything, with the first three games intact and their stories only enhanced to make them more, I guess, storylike haha. Then perhaps the followups can continue off of where Warped leaves off, and future games can go from there. I also agree with Smaz that adding Coco into Crash 1 as well and maybe introduce co-cop would be an interesting spin on the originals. All in all I'm very excited for these and am interested in what they do. I have faith that Vicarious Visions knows what they're doing.


Tawna | June 24, 2016 - 10:03 AM
With the remake, I'm afraid they'll completely replace Tawna with Coco from the first game and changing the story to have Crash save his sister instead of his girlfriend... which would suck.
The idea of changing the original games in order to approve them in theory sounds cool, but most likely they will make many conscious decisions that many fans may not like which is why I think they should remain extremely faithful to the originals and only improve through technical means such as graphics and audio quality.

I'm already not a fan of Crash's mumbling baby talk returning, I thought they were going back to his roots of making him "cool" and whacky, not dumb. I also miss the original voice actors in general, it would be cool to see Hynden Walch (CTR Coco who now voices Princess Bubblegum) return as Coco for the remasters, and Clancy Brown to voice Cortex from the very first game. But it looks like we're most likely going to get Lex Lang back. Don't get me wrong, Lex Lang is great, but I have yet to hear him do.... THE laugh. And I hope Debi goes back to her Wrath of Cortex Coco and not her Jimmy Neutron soundalike Titans Coco.


StukInDaPast | June 26, 2016 - 04:19 PM
I think a big part of the remakes will just be creatively connecting the three games. Like you said, story-driven cutscenes should be a big part of it, but gameplay-wise, I would hate to just simply have a main menu selection screen for which to choose which game you want to play. My idea would be to have a warp zone with three entrances for the three games, and though it may be controversial, i think the two sequels should be locked until you complete the games prior to them. This is mainly due to Crash 3's upgrades. Would you really want to play Crash 3 first, get all of the upgrades, then go backwards to the first two games and not be able to use them? And they can't just let you use the double-jump, wampa cannon, etc. in the first two games because it would make them entirely too easy. Idk, VV is going to have to come up with some good ideas, because making a cohesive game out of three different ones will be quite the task.


Wickon | July 10, 2016 - 08:50 AM
Even though the original Crash story consisted of three games, every installment picked up the story where the previous one left it, and I wouldn't be surprised when booting up the Crash Bandicoot Remastered disc you wouldn't see no game selection screen. I personally think (and I opt for that solution) that the three games will be made into one big story in which you first have to complete the Crash 1 levels, beat Cortex, then head over to Crash 2 levels, beat Cortex again, then complete Crash Warped and then finally beat Cortex once and for all. As for the warp rooms, I feel like the Time Twister in Warped is the only warp room that should be left untouched. I do prefer the Crash 2 solution over the Crash 1 and Warped level selects, but since the fisrt two games' levels mostly take part on N.Sanity Island and it's surroundings, I could imagine a Rayan Revolution-like solution with an enormous homeworld in which you can enter the levels through pathways.


Wickon | July 10, 2016 - 08:50 AM
Even though the original Crash story consisted of three games, every installment picked up the story where the previous one left it, and I wouldn't be surprised when booting up the Crash Bandicoot Remastered disc you wouldn't see no game selection screen. I personally think (and I opt for that solution) that the three games will be made into one big story in which you first have to complete the Crash 1 levels, beat Cortex, then head over to Crash 2 levels, beat Cortex again, then complete Crash Warped and then finally beat Cortex once and for all. As for the warp rooms, I feel like the Time Twister in Warped is the only warp room that should be left untouched. I do prefer the Crash 2 solution over the Crash 1 and Warped level selects, but since the fisrt two games' levels mostly take part on N.Sanity Island and it's surroundings, I could imagine a Rayan Revolution-like solution with an enormous homeworld in which you can enter the levels through pathways.


NihilusMappi | August 19, 2016 - 08:56 PM
I would like to see a Level Editor in the game, i mean, then it is a little bit like Little Big Planet and Mario maker, but i'm sure most of us want to build own levels, i drawn with 6 a own Bee level (I don't have this art anymore ;( )


NihilusMappi | August 20, 2016 - 02:17 PM
I Also hope they also use this 2: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/crashban/images/9/94/FutureSkull.png/revision/latest?cb=20150824153001

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/crashban/images/c/c0/PrehistorySkull.png/revision/latest?cb=20150824153002

Would be awesome to see, i think no experiemenced Modder didn't added it yet in a Crash Bandicoot 3 Mod.


CSyde65 | August 27, 2016 - 12:17 AM
Assuming that these are supposed to be remastered PS4 versions of the original three games, I can't wait to see Dingodile return. His value to the series has been largely neglected since Crash Twinsanity. Dingodile will be returning in the remaster of the third game, right? Because I'll be forming an angry mob if he isn't (just kidding).


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