What is the Crash Remaster? (or, What Measure is a Remake?)

For 2016's E3, Sony’s Shawn Layden dropped the bomb that they’re partnering with Activision to “bring back the original Crash, Crash 2, and Crash Warped, fully remastered from the ground up for PlayStation 4". As a huge fan of the PSone titles, I went as nuts as Kinda Funny’s Tim Gettys did. But what could these titles be?

Regardless of their likelihood, I thought it would be fun to use this announcement to go through the various ways a game can be brought back to a modern game system, and discuss whether it’d be a good or bad idea for Crash to return in such ways.

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Port

Examples: Sonic Adventure DX, Mass Effect PS3, any PSone Classic

The most unlikely one to occur, this option is literally a straight-up port of the original games to a new system with no adjustments made. Crash has actually gone through this before: the four Naughty Dog games have been PSone Classics since 2007, available for that console as well as PSP and eventually PSVita. Countless games have been released as ports, from Sonic to Mario to a litany of old PlayStation games.

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Many times these ports still have some added content and adjustments despite not directly improving the presentation or the gameplay. For example, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World added dialogue for Mario and Luigi, as well as an intro to set up the premise of the game. Persona 3: Portable and Prince of Persia: Revelations meanwhile could be actually be considered demake ports of their originals, yet they include new levels all the same.

Because of the fact that Shawn used terms like “remastered” and “from the ground up”, this one is 100% unlikely to happen for the Crash Remaster (although it wouldn’t go unappreciated for my part). And as wonderful as it would be, I have played the originals many times over as ports over the years.

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Remaster

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Examples: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Remasters, more commonly referred to as HD Ports, are when a game is ported to a new system, specifically one more powerful than that the originals were made, and adjusted for the newer standards. Higher resolution is a given, but improved performance, rendering, textures and controls are common additions to bring the games up to modern standards.

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Similarly to Ports, Remasters often include some additional content to improve the experience, however these rarely include outright new content. If the game is considered to be a Definitive Edition, such as with Tomb Raider, then it is common for all of the DLC and add-on content to be included. Another common feature these days is a Photo Mode to take advantage of the screenshot-taking abilities of today’s consoles.

Similar to the Port option, this one won’t happen for Crash simply because Mr. Layden used terms that suggest more original work output. Plus, as beautiful as the Crash games remain today, bringing them to HD would do the graphics no favours. And again, I’ve played the originals so much beforehand and can still do so whenever I’d like, so doing this for PS4 would be cool but redundant.

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Remake

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Examples: Klonoa 2007, Pokémon FireRed/Leaf Green, Day of the Tentacle PS4

In the strictest application of the term, a Remake is when the game is literally made again from the ground up on a more powerful system, but is still very faithful to the game on which it’s based. Adjustments are made for playability and the graphics are obviously much better, but the core gameplay is the same as it was the first time.

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In the 80s and 90s this is usually what a Port was considered to be, because the graphics and audio would have to be redone to work with the new system’s graphic and audio cards (think the MSX2 version of Final Fantasy). Remakes often go for a different aesthetic design than the original, either because the developers want it to stand apart from the first go or because the old version wasn’t capable of that sort of thing (the remakes of Final Fantasy I, II and III are a good example of this).

This is the option that I’d want the Crash Remaster to take, as I feel it would strike the perfect balance of nostalgia and modern gaming. I’ll elaborate more later in the article, but needless to say there are still several ways for it to fall short of perfection.

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Re-Imagining

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Examples: Tomb Raider 2013, Doom 2016, DmC: Devil May Cry

The most extreme example, this is when a game is based on the original in a looser sense, taking some familiar aspects of said game but going in a different direction with it, often culminating in a flat-out reboot. Very often a new development team is involved, and in many instances the game will even be a reset into a new continuity. Crash himself went through multiple phases of this during the PS2 and PS3 era, as has his compatriot Spyro the Dragon.

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The latest Doom is a good example of this today, taking the fast-paced demon shooting on Mars of the DOS original but otherwise having completely new content. The 2016 Ratchet & Clank manages to be both a Re-Imagining and a Remake, due to its nature of remaking the original 2002 game when it isn’t telling the story of the movie it’s based on.

Doing this to Crash would be a step too far for me, because at this point you may as well have announced the games as “a new take on Crash that goes back to the Naughty Dog roots”. It would be awkward to have this game due to how beloved the originals are, especially if the new versions turned out to be worse than games made twenty years ago.

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So which one?

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Personally, I want the Crash Remaster to be a very faithful Remake. With the exception of the save system, late-game levels and box counter for Crash 1, the original games still play extremely well today, and I don’t want anything except the visuals and sound effects to be upgraded (but voice actors to be the same as the first time. As for the music, check out Josh Mancell’s pre-console mixes of his original Crash music for what I think should be used.

There was also this other aspect to Crash, that as cartoonish as it was there was a certain groundedness and believably that permeated the worlds, from which the more fantastical elements were extruded upon. Places like Jungle Rollers and Turtle Woods feel like they might exist, and from there you can add the cyborg vultures and turtles with sawblades.

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This applies to Crash himself too; one of the most common mistakes over the years has been to depict Crash as a crazy, loony individual with no restraint, when in fact he can be quite reserved. His standard pose is very calm, and he knows when to be quiet, which helps make his more expressive moments that more memorable.

Then there are the little things, the unwritten rules that long-time players have mastered. The Crash level that was included as an easter egg in Uncharted 4 was incredibly well done, but as someone who can pick up the games instantaneously there were some missed shots. For example, Wumpa Fruit should hover in the place their crate was smashed. Spinning and then jumping should allow you to smash a stack of crates from the bottom up to the top. The animation should be fluid and smooth, but have a certain sharpness to it as well.

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Those are my hopes and expectations for the Crash Remaster, and what it should and shouldn’t be. It’s a lot to remember! But what are yours? Let me know!

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