Interview by: JumpButtonCM and HP Zoner
After 8 long years of absence, Crash is finally making a comeback just in time to celebrate his 20th anniversary! A lot of people who are passionate about the franchise made this possible, but it's especially thanks to Vicarious Visions that Crash is getting a celebration that is appropriate for such a milestone. We've interviewed the studio's producer, Barry Morales, about Crash's upcoming appearance in Skylanders Imaginators and what it means for our birthday boy's future.
Q: How does the team at Vicarious Visions feel about being the one to bring Crash back after such a long hiatus, and in not one, but multiple games at that? And along the same lines, what really got the ball rolling on the return of Crash? Fan response, timing, etc?
A: We are very excited to bring Crash back after this long hiatus. Many of us on the development team grew up playing the Crash games and were absolutely pumped to bring this character to fans in Skylanders Imaginators. We saw how much the Skylanders fans enjoyed it when we brought guest stars Bowser and Donkey Kong into the franchise, and being huge fans of Crash Bandicoot ourselves, we thought the 20th Anniversary of this video game icon would be the perfect time to bring him back and introduce him to a whole new generation of players. Many Crash fans including ourselves have kids and Skylanders is a great way to play together and introduce them to one of our favorite characters.
Q: Was there any push from "on high" about what Crash in Skylanders or the Remasters should be, or were you given free reign to approach them your own way based on that history?
A: Vicarious Visions was given a great amount of freedom to represent what we felt was needed for a memorable Crash adventure in Skylanders Imaginators. We even made it a point to look back to our old Crash archives for inspiration going back to the very first game. We even found some old concepts of Crash when he was "Willy the Wombat". If there was any push from up high, it was mostly from our internal Crash superfans!
Q: That in mind, have any veteran Crash developers at the studio from back in the 2000s been excited to get a chance to return to working with the Bandicoot?
A: You bet! Vicarious Visions has a long track record with the franchise. Many of our veteran developers gave their insights from the earlier projects. There's a lot of love and fond memory of working on games like Crash Nitrokart.
Q: "Thumpin' Wumpa Islands" appears to be a love letter to Crash history, ranging in references and callbacks from the original games by Naughty Dog all the way up to the Radical Entertainment era. What elements did you look at across the whole franchise history in order to achieve this?
A: When it came down to it, our development team wanted to focus on what we felt were the most memorable and iconic moments of the Crash franchise. For example, everyone remembers the Boulder Chase levels. We knew we had to pay homage to that gameplay mechanic! That said, we wanted to not only make this a love letter to all of the Crash fans out there, but create an engaging experience for Skylanders fans to enjoy as well. You can play through Thumpin Wumpa Islands as Crash, Dr. Neo Cortex or any of the 300+ Skylanders in your collection. You get the platforming action of Crash Bandicoot games merged with the fun and silly combat and exploration of a Skylanders game. It's a really nice blend of the two styles of play.
Q: Crash and Spyro have a history together — We've already seen a couple references to this, so are there any other callbacks like that, perhaps to V-Visions' own Crash Purple and Spyro Orange? Could we see any other Crash characters come to the Skylands to interact with Spyro?
A: We have jam-packed this Crash adventure with as many characters and references from past games as possible! I recommend keeping a close eye on all of the characters and enemies throughout the adventure to keep track of how many you may have seen before.
Q: The voice actors from the most recent Crash games have returned — Was it a surprise to them to be brought back after such a long gap, and with a wink and a nudge can it be assumed that they'll be sticking around?
A: It was great working with Jess Harnell and Lex Lang on reprising roles in Skylanders Imaginators. We felt it was so important to the authenticity of the characters to get them into the game. They were definitely excited to step back into these characters shoes. The voice overs are hilarious too, by the way. The characters will addresss you differently if you play as Crash, Dr. Neo Cortex, or a Skylander. You'll want to play through multiple times to hear it all. Also, from time to time Crash will start humming his theme song. All these details will be fun to pick up on as you play through the game. As for the remasters, only time will tell! *Wink, wink, nudge, nudge*
Q: Over the years, there has been one particular element of V-Visions' Crash games that stands out — an element that very rarely appears in the other games in the franchise, if ever — and that element is... Fake Crash. It's obvious that someone at V-Visions has a very affectionate opinion of Fake Crash, going so far as to make him the whole cause of the shenanigans happening on the Wumpa Islands in Imaginators. So with that in mind, what is behind your seemingly very intense (and welcome!) love for Fake Crash?
A: I'm sure you know the story of Fake Crash. He was inspired by some poorly made knock off toys. Given that we've been making toys to life for a while now this is particularly funny to us since we know the painstaking efforts we go through to make sure our toys are of great quality. Fans are really going to love the Crash Bandicoot and Dr. Neo Cortex toys for the attention to detail we've given them. Fake Crash is somewhat of a cult hit among the franchise and here at Vicarious Visions, we felt it was his time to shine. He fit perfectly into the story we wanted to tell as someone who is not a true villain but more of a goofy henchmen. He also has some killer eyebrows!
Q: The general public will roast me if I don't ask this, so forgive me, but are there any connections between the Crash content in Skylanders Imaginators and Crash Remastered? Perhaps the look of characters or locations?
We are very excited about the amount of energy around the three Crash Bandicoot remasters but for now we are focused on bringing Crash to Skylanders Imaginators on Oct. 16.