mThe Skylanders franchise basically invented the toys-to-life genre and has seen many imitators in recent years. In spite of all that competition, the series that began with Spyro just keeps on growing with its most ambitious entry yet, Skylanders: Imaginators. Coming to stores Oct. 16, this entry is developed by Skylanders’ first studio, Toys for Bob. The new game is built around the most customizable figures the series has ever seen. But for hardcore gamers, the most important addition is Skylanders: Imaginators’ Crash Bandicoot figure. After a long hiatus, the former PlayStation mascot is back. I recently got to play some of Crash’s exclusive stage in the upcoming Skylanders game.
Naughty Dog created Crash Bandicoot way back in 1996, and the marsupial mascot is celebrating his 20th anniversary in style with a new figure in Skylanders: Imaginators. When Sony announced the Crash / Spyro crossover at E3 2016 a couple months back, many fans jumped at the chance to see Crash Bandicoot again. Others were annoyed Crash appeared limited to a figurine in a series they normally overlook. But after my time demoing Imaginators, I can say that the Crash stage is a nice tribute to the series, and has more familiar faces beyond just Crash himself.
After dropping Crash onto Thumpin’ Wombat Island, I took a moment to adjust to using the Bandicoot in this new game. Classic moves like Crash’s spin attack, jump slide, and belly flop from midair are all part of his repertoire. Crash’s Super Uppercut technique also makes a return, and he can bestow it upon created characters as well, as his returning pal Aku Aku explains. In fact, you’ll hear a lot from Aku Aku in the game. Because Crash doesn’t actually speak, the witch doctor mask does the speaking on his behalf.
As previously mentioned, Crash isn’t alone. His figure pack comes bundled with another old frenemy in the form of Doctor Neo Cortex, complete with his sorcerer powers, Uka Uka mask, a gun, and his hoverboard. Unlike Crash, Neo Cortex can even speak and explains how his Sensei abilities allow him to share his secret technique of Magic Upheaval. Seeing Crash and Cortex exploring the colorful jungle stage will make any retro-minded gamer feel warm and fuzzy, like you’re seeing a new era of Crash Bandicoot starting before your eyes.
Thumpin’ Wombat Island
The stage itself is a pretty standard platformer as you hop around and battle enemies in search of a rumored evil bandicoot messing up Crash’s home. Crash’s original PlayStation pal, Spyro, even appears to guide you on your quest. It’s a rare moment of Activision tentatively embracing that they have these characters that mean so much to so many gamers. But Crash’s best birthday present of all was waiting at the end of the demo.
Though you can explore Thumpin Wombat Island as any Skylander figure, having Crash unlocks a special bonus area that’s an impressive throwback to his first ever title. After grabbing a pepper that ups Crash’s speed, you must run towards the camera, quickly jumping from platform to platform, and busting open crates just like in the original Crash Bandicoot. Though you better break out your old copy and sharpen up your skills, because it’s not as easy as it seems. I lost a couple of lives thinking this throwback was as easy as the rest of the stage.
The stage was short and sweet, but it’s definitely made with love for Crash and his friends. Maybe that is enough to sell lapsed fans on Skylanders: Imaginators. Or maybe Crash lovers will just hold out hope for the Bandicoot to get a full game (in addition to the upcoming HD remakes) further down the line. In the meantime, Skylanders: Imaginators‘ Crash stage is the closest thing you’ll get to a new Crash Bandicoot game anytime soon.