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Remembering The Cut Cartoon Opening To Crash Bandicoot

Some consoles are so indelibly tied to certain games that it's hard to imagine one without the other. Games whose history is so tied up in that of the console itself that their legacies are forever stitched together. Sometimes this happens by chance, as all the circumstances of fate line with serendipity in their hearts. Other times it can be forced, as consoles try to shift the public conversation through console mascots. One of the most successful examples of this is Crash Bandicoot and the PS1, wherein Crash pushed the envelope of what was technologically possible in gaming, building a more uptempo game centred around a character with attitude using some technical loading tricks only possible due to Naughty Dog working closely with Sony. By extension, the PS1 became known as a faster, more ambitious, more mature console, mainly off the back of Crash's success. However, into the bargain, we lost one of the greatest video game opening montages of all time.

The story of the original Crash game is not a particularly complex one. Neo Cortex wants to take over the world, and chooses to begin small with a series of barely populated islands. On these islands, Cortex experiments on animals, turning them into his minions. That's why several of the enemies are mutant animals, and why we fight a gymbro koala bear and a gangster potoroo as bosses. Crash is another one of these experiments but his brain is so small and chaotic that it breaks the machine, sending him to the shores of N.Sanity Beach (the game's opening level) as it explodes. Tawna, Crash's girlfriend, is also in-line to have her mind warped by Cortex, and so Crash sets out on a journey across the islands, fighting back against Cortex's new assistants in order to save her.

This is basically the plot of the first game. We get no explanation for the importance of gems until Crash 2, and crystals (the defining iconography of the game) do not even exist in Crash's first outing. You can pick up most of this plot from just playing the game, like when you occasionally see Tawna pop up or just the basic impetus that you must beat levels to take on Cortex. Much of the surrounding lore isn't present in the game itself. However, it should have been. The team at Naughty Dog initially had an animated intro (plus an extended ending) in the style of a Saturday Morning Cartoon, complete with a theme song, which explained all of this.

Unfortunately, Sony was keen that Crash push its technological prowess at every opportunity, and that meant the cartoon was out and the current intro made in-engine was created. This told the same basic story, though limitations meant no explosion, instead just a screen that reads 'reject' and we see Crash escape, even uttering an uncharacteristic "uh-oh" before falling. No theme tune also means the explanation for why Crash was rejected by the machine is cut. While the new intro does scan past cages marked 'koala' and 'potoroo', it's a little blink and you'll miss it. The original intro also reveals that Tiny Tiger and the Komodo Brothers, who don't appear until the sequel, were fully formed during the development of the first game.

This intro was lost to time until David Siller, the game's producer, shared it with a Crash fansite who uploaded it to YouTube – that's the video embedded here. Given Crash's success and the role it played in helping the PlayStation achieve world domination (something Cortex never managed), it's fair to say Sony made the right choice to emphasise the technological appeal of Crash. Still, it's sad to think that had this made it in the final game, we might have seen more cartoons in future games, or even a fully fledged cartoon series.

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