Everyone knew there was a hunger for more Crash Bandicoot, but no one really knew how much. The character was ascendant during the PlayStation era, standing as the platform's primary answer to Nintendo's Mario. Current owner Activision knew it was worth tapping into that nostalgia, which lead to the development of The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for PlayStation 4. What the company didn't expect was groundswell of sales.
"We are experimenting with Crash," Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg told GamesIndustry.biz a short time after the game's launch. "We know there's a vocal fanbase that wanted that to come back. But you never know if that is emblematic of a larger audience or just this niche, nostalgia-based community. So far, we are seeing some real passion for it, so that could lead to other things."
The N. Sane Trilogy overperformed by a wide margin. It became the biggest single-platform release of 2017 in the United Kingdom and landed at number 4 on the United States' NPD charts for June, despite being only on the market for two days in the month. Fast-forward to today, and Activision has a whole new tune.
"We knew that there was a passionate audience out there for Crash," Hirshberg said in a recent investors call. "But we had no idea – it's hard to tell whether that's a vocal minority or whether that's a real mass audience until you put something out there. Crash has surpassed all of our expectations by a pretty wide margin."
"We think we have other great IP in our portfolio that we're considering of course," he added. "The other opportunity beyond remastered is to look at some of our classic IP and ask whether or not it could be reborn on a new platform like what we're going with Skylanders on mobile."
Let us journey through the company's archives. Some of these games you probably didn't even know Activision owns, thanks to the convoluted history of the publisher: Activision Blizzard was formed from a merger with Activision with Blizzard Entertainment owner Vivendi Games, which was formerly Vivendi Universal Games. Vivendi Universal owned Blizzard, Universal Interactive, and Sierra Entertainment. Everyone has jumped towards a certain purple dragon, but what other games in Activision's catalog deserve a return, either in remastered or sequel form?
Spyro The Dragon
Let's get this one out of the way right now. Spyro the Dragon is the other family-friendly mascot character that everyone would like to see return in some form. Originally an Insomniac Games series published by Sony Computer Entertainment back in 1998, Spyro was one of the better platformers on the PlayStation. The success of the first game led to Spyro getting two sequels on PlayStation before rights owner Universal Interactive decided more money could be made if it went multiplatform.
All told, Spyro received nine solo games, a crossover with Crash Bandicoot, and a reboot trilogy before Activision folded the character into the toys-to-life Skylanders franchise. Crash made his soft return in Skylanders, so perhaps it's time for another Skylanders alum to get his shot at a remaster collection, or potentially even a sequel.
This is one of those games that folks don't realize that Activision owns. Originally the work of Japanese developer Acquire, this stealth-action series was published by Activision in its first three entries: Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins, Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven.
While Activision sold the rights to the series to From Software in 2004, Activision still retains the rights to the first three games in the series. These also happen to be the best games in a series that fell off with subsequent entries. Bringing back the opening trilogy with some new graphical polish would be amazing.
One forgotten part of Activision's past is this amazing car combat series, beginning with Interstate '76, a vehicular combat game with a cool 70's feel. Unlike competitor Twisted Metal, Interstate '76 sported vehicles based on real cars, including some classic American muscle cars. It even had a fully-scripted single-player campaign featuring car-based gangs fighting one another for dominance with a nuclear weapon in play. Basically, Interstate '76 tried way harder than it needed to.
The title was followed by Interstate '82, a direct sequel that didn't get as much love, and two games in the Vigilante 8 spin-off series. Vigilante 8 and Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense brought the series to PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and later Dreamcast. The Vigilante 8 games were more streamlined and arcade-style, landing closer to rival series Twisted Metal. Unfortunately, Twisted Metal absolutely buried it, leading to the series' cancellation. Vigilante 8 already returned on Xbox 360 as Vigilante 8 Arcade, but glitches and poor controls overshadowed the excellent multiplayer.
A collection with all four games, or just the two Vigilante 8 games would be grand. A proper port is needed, but what else does the series have to compete with anymore?
Another racing game that died at the hands of Activision. Blur was developed by Bizarre Creations for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game was a take on Nintendo's Super Mario Kart, featuring wild tracks, some vehicle combat, and cool power-ups. Blur was an excellent game, but it got lost in the shuffle with ModNation Racers, Split/Second, and Mario Kart Wii. Bizarre Creations intended to make more Blur titles with an all-new engine, but Activision ultimately shuttered the studio in 2010.
Blur deserves another shot at the gold, especially in a world where the only racing action available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon, and Gran Turismo.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Poor, poor Troika Games. The studio only released three games, but they were three solid PC games: the great Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Temple of Elemental Evil, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Bloodlines was not a great game all told. It had a host of technical problems - general bugs, major load times, various typos, and poor AI - that stymied an otherwise excellent narrative experience.
Despite those problems, Bloodlines is a lost part of PC RPG history. Troika Games went to town on the game's script, offering some great dialog and player choices. It stood alongside other greats of that era in terms of story, including Deux Ex, Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Bloodlines is so well-loved that it still receives unofficial patches as recently as 2014.
Activision should work with some of these unofficial developers and give Bloodlines a polish and a re-release. It's a classic RPG that deserves the love.
What other Activision games do you think need a remaster or release? Tony Hawk received Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD and both Prototype games launched on Xbox One and PS4 in 2015, so they're out, but what else from the company's catalog needs some action? Let us know in the comments below!