Coco? Phst. What about Crash?
Well, just hear me out for a second.
Aren’t you tired of simple remakes and reboots? They’ve been so common lately it’s hard to find a month without at least one HD remake or franchise reboot. Now, don’t get me wrong, these entries are a beautiful opportunity to romp down an updated memory lane. It reminds many of us why we fell in love with the medium of games to begin with. They also provide a reprieve from the complex control mechanics and hyper-detailed worlds of modern games. Heck, they even allow a new generation of players to experience a classic.
I worry that while these remakes and reboots are fun for players, they may develop a slippery slope of nostalgic cash-ins from developers. With the cost of game development skyrocketing there is an inherit risk taken when funding new franchises, particularly those that don’t have backing through crowd-funding or a solid reputation garnered through successful indie publishing. It’s not solely a game industry quandary either… I mean, there’s a reason a TMNT reboot was green lighted and a Sharknado sequel was in the works days after the firestorm response to the initial premier. Funders want a “sure-thing” or at least as close as they can wager.
Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment recently sat down with The Telegraph stating he was not in opposition to reviving old franchises. After all, it’s worked well for Microsoft, whose reboots of Killer Instinct and announcement of Phantom Dust have been both lucrative and cred-building for the giant. Nintendo has been at a similar racket for years. Their entire business strategy seems built on beautiful and innovative retreads of their key franchises that hit me equally in the heart and wallet year after year.
I do wish however, that if the game industry is intent on reboots they would at least make more of an effort to create uniquely designed next-gen spin-offs. Let’s bring back something people love, just from a different angle.
So let’s think about who Sony could benefit from not just reviving, but creating original game concepts for. Spyro is busy with the Skylanders (not to mention he had a crap supporting cast). Jak and Dax, Pa Rappa and even Vib Ribbon would make astounding remakes but don’t offer much meat for spin offs. At least, nothing as robust as the Crash universe could. Believe it or not, Activision actually owns Crash Bandicoot these days, but regardless, I hope if the marsupials return to next gen consoles we get a fresh take on the franchise. A villain focused tale staring Cortex, a la Despicable Me would be interesting, but it’s actually Crash’s sister, Coco whose character is the most dynamic and interesting in the series upon reflection.
Coco has always been a certified badass. I’m not saying her implementation was always on point, but apparently she has an IQ of 164, and is down with MMA as well as NASCAR. Plus, it’s a tossup as to whether she has more skills riding dinosaurs or go karts. Yes, these traits are generically male and projected onto a female character, but in a video game from 1997 that was pretty progressive (sadly). Especially considering she was created as a foil to Crash’s “sexy” girlfriend Tawna. I would even go as far as to infer her inclusion in the franchise as an early look into the commitment Naughty Dog has to creating dynamic and inclusive characters. In Crash Team Racing, while the other ladies were only seen on the winners podium as starters, Coco was actually out on the track. Badass, yea?
With the recent success of well-rounded female characters in reboots like Laura Croft – female terminator turned vulnerable human – and the new Ms. Marvel, I think there’s hope for a Coco that’s more than just a nerdy sidekick. In addition, her particular traits might suit a different style of game than those we’ve previously seen her in. I could easily see her in a stealth action platformer, Beyond Good and Evil style. Or in an episodic mystery game where she tracks down and rescues Crash.
Let’s all agree now though, she can leave her jungle creatures at home.
It might shock you to learn that I’m not a Coco fanatic; she just jumped out at me as the most capable nostalgia inducing support character that could stand alone in a spin-off. A Coco spin-off doesn’t have to excite you – but do tell then – what iconic video game support characters do you think deserve their own spin-offs?