Crash Bandicoot's officially back with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered collection of the series' first three games, released today. It's not just a sharp polish of the original games à la the Final Fantasy VII "remaster" that released on PC and PlayStation 4, but is a reworking of the games from the ground up. (According to an interview with Ars Technica, developers Vicarious Visions didn't even have access to the original code.)
With the release of the new collection brings back a lot of memories. Some fond, some not so fond. Some wondering if the likes of Crash will even hold up today. Perhaps at the top of those memories, for better or for worse, are those dang Crash Bandicoot commercials. The one with a dude in a giant Bandicoot costume; cracking jokes, yelling through a megaphone outside of Nintendo's offices, generally being as zany and silly as Crash Bandicoot as a series marketed itself to be.
According to Polygon's recent Crash Bandicoot oral history, the commercial campaigns weren't meant to be emblematic of Crash the actual Bandicoot himself, but rather the crazed fans he inspires. For arguably the most iconic Crash commercial—where Crash heckles the Nintendo offices from a parking lot—everything fell into place almost accidentally.
"[It] was the building next door. It was a Nintendo building, but it wasn't their main headquarters," said Ami Blaire, Crash Bandicoot's marketing manager. "But it also aligned with the fun of the campaign. This [fan] was so crazy, he would do pretty much anything and he kind of was a very spur of the moment kind of guy. So it would totally make sense that this guy hadn't had done his homework and [had] mistakenly gone to the wrong building."
For Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the trailers took a more singular approach. One not focused on its competitors, but what new was coming to the sequel. In a particular batch of short commercials, we see Crash trying to sneak his jetpack through TSA at an airport, only for it to literally blow up in his face. He complains loudly about beeping through the metal detector, even after emptying his pockets. I could only imagine the annoyance he'd go through now with airports' heightened security.
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped seemed to amp things up beyond petty Nintendo comparisons and airport annoyances. Warped's commercials showed a stuntman Crash building up the courage to leap out of an airplane, getting guidance from Evil Knievel to motorbike across ramps. Warped's commercials were clearly trying to show its audience that Crash was somehow even more crazy than he's ever been in the past.
Crash Bandicoot didn't only have wacky commercials in the United States. In Japan, the commercials were often more varied, not extended gags on the same tale (as with Crash's antagonistic commercials directed towards Nintendo). In the Japanese commercials for Crash Bandicoot, they often have individual stories of their own. In one, Crash struggles through school. In another, an old man muses about when he was once Crash, only for Crash from Crash Team Racing to burst through shrubbery and the old man to be arrested. The theme song for the Japanese version of Crash Bandicoot is also great.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, mascot-clad Crash even bled outside of just promoting the Crash series and PlayStation. Sometimes, Crash urged people to consume Pizza Hut too. Backwards. Because cheese-stuffed crust was a novel thing in the 1990s. (Gimme thin crust, no frills pizza any day.)
The Crash commercials may have been a tad annoying (or amusing, depending), but they helped set Sony apart from their competitors. Even now to promote the remastered collection, the Crash mascot has returned to screens. Crash was wild, self-aware, and a bit sarcastic—the ideal mascot during a highly competitive time for games. Whether we liked him genuinely or not, the loud mascot burrowed himself into our memories, and he'll remain there forever.