This article originally appeared in GamesMaster magazine.
Created out of Naughty Dog's desire to make a 'Sonic's Ass game' - since that's all you would be able to see as the character ran away from the camera - Crash Bandicoot was the mascot that Sony needed desperately.
Ninty had Mario, Sega had Sonic and PlayStation had a powerful grey whirring box under the TV and very little else. And luckily, from the second that he woke up on N Sanity Beach and spun heroically in the direction of the jungle, Crash turned out to be just as charming as Naughty Dog's much later hero, a certain Mr Drake.
With his roguish eyebrows wiggling conspiratorially before launching onto the back of a wild pig, flamboyant dance moves for rewarding level perfection and an endearing attempt at a wampa fruit juggling act when you left him alone, Crash was a pleasure to steer through the most vibrant and stylish platforming environments we had ever seen. And he still is.
On the quest to prise girlfriend Tawna from the tiny-handed clutches of Dr Neo Cortex, Crash must journey through three islands of madness. Rich in cartoony variation, the levels range from traditional 2D side-scrolling through lush jungles and industrial wastelands, to the unnerving prospect of running forwards into the camera to escape an enormous rolling boulder to a rollicking cinematic soundtrack.
As all good platforming goes, Crash only has two abilities, jumping and spinning, but fiendish level design never feels like it's just a case of rinse and repeat. Even the happily crunchy death animations make for an amusing if frustrating experience as you revert to the traditional directional buttons to traverse rickety bridges with falling slats, and hurtle into dark castles hoping that the lights wont go out.
Crash can fight somersaulting monkeys, giant spiders, poisonous snakes and patrolling robots. Bosses are varied and often controller-throwingly unreasonable as you fight the minions of Dr Neo Cortex. Perhaps only those with the muscle memory of their younger years would wish to engage in the laborious and now-trophyless task of gem collection but the option is always there.
It's the first of a series that would explode into a behemoth of a franchise, but everything we ever really needed was there in the original Crash. Beautiful environments where butterflies flutter casually past, unique soundtracks for each section, level design that understands the primal fear of not knowing what's going to happen next and all with the beautiful simplicity of only two interactions.
Not just for nostalgia fans, this PlayStation classic demands another playthrough, if only as an exercise in true 3D platforming glory. Vive le Crash.