One system. Two games. One website. Two devastatingly handsome writers who disagree on a thing. That’s right: it’s time for a CultureJam.
The PS1 had a number of classic titles, but arguably none more iconic to our childhoods than the two mascot platformers even your mum knew the names of. This week, Brian and Blair debate which was better; Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon.
Blair – Crash BandiCool
The Crash trilogy is inseparable from the PlayStation One. Recently with the news that the N’Sane trilogy is being released on Switch and Xbox One, social media was swarmed with surprise that this PlayStation mascot was coming to other consoles, including descriptions like “it would be like Mario being released on PlayStation”. They were of course wrong, and Crash has been on multiple consoles in its muddy career, but that’s not the point.
It’s also important to note that there are only 2 characters on earth who are cool enough to pull off Jorts, John Cena and Crash Bandicoot.
As one of the earliest 3d platformers, it helped pave the way for many other great games, including Spyro, can you imagine a world without Spyro? You may have had to if Crash didn’t exist.
Taking the responsibilities of a pioneer, Crash Bandicoot brought the technical nous of learning dual analogue sticks, with its linear, almost 2D platformer like levels. This perfect amalgamation of 2D platforming merged into this third dimension made for an exceptional platformer, and the reason many of us are obsessive gamers these days. I know it is what helped me become a gamer.
And with its re-release last year, the game proved one thing, with a little spit polish, the game is still fantastic. Many gamers spent a few weeks last year being reminded how hard the game used to be, and how good Naughty Dog has been at developing games, since even the start of time.
Then you mix in the extraordinary success of Crash Team Racing, a game I still ear people bring up, regularly as they itch for a re-release. For non-Nintendo owners, it was the Mario Kart of our childhood, and it was excellent.
We will just look past that Crash Bash game.
Can you imagine a world without The Last of Us, or the Uncarted series? I don’t even want to think about it, and thanks to their rousing success with Crash Bandicoot, they get to continue existing. So, Crash didn’t just give us Crash, it also helped the success of a studio to bring a different type of excellence to games in the future.
Also Cocoa rules, and Spyro drools.
Brian – Spyro the DraGood
Basically, Blair is wrong.
For me, Spyro beats Crash because it wasn’t just a platformer; it was a world to explore. Crash focused on technical skill; timing jumps, spinning at the right time, and sometimes doing these things in quick succession. This is cool, yeah, but where Crash was essentially 2D dressed up as 3D, Spyro encouraged exploration and problem solving in a legitimate 3D environment (although admittedly usually through gliding correctly and breathing some sweet flames). Each level has secrets tucked away, and looping layouts revisited old areas before Dark Souls made it cool. Trend setter, this little purple dragon.
The character design was dead on as well; from aggro vultures to lightning wizards, from desert militia to angry swamp hogs, the enemies and butterfly health drops always felt like they belonged where they were, suited to their environment. While Crash manages this too, I just felt the blend was better in Spyro. Just look at those polygons. THEY’RE SO PRETTY. Also, Crash had jorts, but Spyro was naked all the time; he didn’t even NEED clothes. You do you, bro. Plus Sparx is cuter than Aku-Aku: FIGHT ME.
On a less jokey note, can we talk about music? Let’s talk about music. Crash’s soundtrack was, you know, there. Spyro’s is iconic. From the moment you boot up that game, your earballs are massaged by the glorious synthesised tunes of Stewart Copeland, who’s mates with Sting from a little band called The Police. The sheer quality of the audio is unparalleled for the time, and I can only pray that when the inevitable remaster comes, they don’t butcher the music.
Finally, there was a plot to Spyro, with far more characterisation and depth than the hollow shell of a marsupial desperate to get back with his girlfriend. Spyro has the weight of the world on his scaly shoulders, with depth coming from in game interactions with other dragons and the world as a whole. It was telling a story.
I will admit that Crash has had better spinoffs; the GBA Spyros were not great, and I’m not a Skylanders fan, but people were all up in Crash Team Racing, and Crash Bash was f*cking hype. So plus three points to Crash for successful deviations, minus several hundred from both for those godawful Fusion games. Remember them? No? Good.
Crash may go down in history as the golden child, but Spyro is still my Very Good Dragon Boy.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Are we both right? No, that’s the coward’s way out. Let us know who won, because the loser has to wear the PS1 hipster hat of shame.