Ahead of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy‘s launch on PS4 tomorrow, Stevivor sat down with Nicholas Ruepp, Executive Producer at Vicarious Visions, to discuss the remastered bundle of Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
Steve Wright, Stevivor: What’s the main goal with this remaster? FPS? Resolution? Straight up nostalgia?
Nicholas Ruepp: The high-level goal was to faithfully recreate the original Crash experience, while taking every opportunity to modernize the experience to be accessible for new players — ensuring the greatest number of gamers could enjoy Crash!
Stevivor: This isn’t just an upscale — what did Vicarious Visions focus on in getting PSone titles onto PS4 and looking modern?
Ruepp: Correct, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is not your standard remaster. We built a brand-new game, while retaining the original feel so the spirit of Crash shines through. From the fully-remastered soundtrack and re-recorded VO, to the HD visual fidelity of the lush environments – the game looks, sounds, feels, and plays amazingly.
Stevivor: Vicarious Visions IS a Crash studio, even though Naughty Dog is the studio traditionally thought of by fans. What has your studio brought to the character and the franchise, and what makes you perfectly suited for this remaster?
Ruepp: Vicarious Visions have long been Crash fans. Most recently, we developed the Crash-inspired Thumpin’ Wumpa Islands in last year’s Skylanders: Imaginators game. Some of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy developers even worked on Crash Nitro Cart, back in the early 2000s! All have done extensive research on the original games throughout production.
Stevivor: What did Vicarious Visions leverage from Naughty Dog for this remaster? Archived information? Direct access to the devs?
Ruepp: Vicarious Visions had access to original reference material and source assets. This trove of assets allowed us to get a great perspective on the original development. For example, we leveraged the original level layout data as a blueprint to rebuild the levels to the exact specifications of the originals.
Stevivor: How important was Crash’s introduction into Skylanders to this bundle?
Ruepp: Many of those same developers rolled onto the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy production and were able to bring those learnings forward. A good example of that is Cory Turner (3D Character Modeler), who sculpted the Skylanders’ Crash model, also built the N. Sane Trilogy model of Crash. He was already intimately familiar with modernizing Crash.
Stevivor: What are new players going to get out of this remaster?
Ruepp: New players will be able to experience the epic adventure of classic Crash gameplay, but with all the amenities that the modern game expects like a unified save game, analog stick support, and online leaderboards.
Stevivor: Conversely, what do you think older gamers (like myself) will get out of this title?
Ruepp: Returning fans will surely enjoy the niceties I mentioned as well, but will also be able to relive their memories of playing Crash 20 years ago. Only now they can experience it in the fully immersive HD environments, animations, and sounds that we created on the PS4 and PS4 Pro.
Stevivor: Are things like controls unified across the three titles in N. Sane Trilogy, or are there specific systems for each?
Ruepp: We benefited from 20 years of hindsight when we began developing the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. There are even evolutions and improvements across the three original games as learnings were implemented into each subsequent iteration. We unified as many systems as we could to increase the quality of the experience. Some good examples are a unified save game and handling systems.
Stevivor: Is this a stepping stone to a brand new Crash game?
Ruepp: We are enthused by the overwhelmingly positive fan response to the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and are looking forward to fans getting their hands on the game June 30th!
Stevivor: Fans on other platforms are hopeful for an eventual release — is it sacrilege, to you, to play a Crash game on a non-PlayStation platform?
Ruepp: As fans ourselves, and extremely passionate game developers, we would love for as many players as possible to experience the game that we so lovingly crafted.
Stevivor: We’ve had a bit of a reintroduction to Crash through Uncharted 4. How does that sequence — Crash in Uncharted 4 — compare to the same sequence in N. Sane Trilogy?
Ruepp: The Boulders level from Crash Bandicoot was faithfully recreated in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. And for the first time ever, players can now try their hand at Boulders as Coco in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
Our thanks to Mr. Ruepp for his time.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is available on PS4 and PS4 Pro tomorrow.