It was 1996 and I was ten years old. I remember my dad taking me to Circuit City for some reason and seeing this amazing game being played on a large TV with speakers. Oh my God, it had 3D graphics! And…Are those CD quality music samples!? This was my first experience with Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation, and I didn’t need to play it to know I was hooked.
I was largely playing video games on my Sega Genesis at the time, and being the young, enthusiastic kid that I was, I freaked out and begged my dad for this amazing game. He lovingly reminded me, in the way that parents always do, that we didn’t have a PlayStation, but Christmas was coming up, and if I was good, maybe a PlayStation would magically slide down our chimney and manifest in a wrapped box under our Christmas tree. Well, he didn’t word it like that, but I got the point.
When Christmas came around, I did up getting a PlayStation, with Crash Bandicoot (also Warhawk and Rally Cross!), and spent my entire Christmas break from school glued to my TV. It was the best. My friends were playing outside in the snow, but I did not care.
It’s been years since I touched the franchise now, but that first game and its two sequels live on fondly in my memory. I would even dare to say I get slightly misty-eyed when a song from the trilogy pops up on my iPod when it’s shuffling.
Just hearing the beginning of “N Sanity Beach” was enough to fill my heart with excitement. Laughable and goofy now, this light-hearted opener to first game was a great example of how far game music had come since the 16-bit days.
“Slippery Climb” is a track in the exact opposite direction from the previous one. Ominous and stressful, it demonstrates not only a dark side to game’s music, but also versatility in the PlayStation’s audio capabilities. Again, coming from the Sega Genesis, hearing this stuff was almost a transcending experience for me.
The following year, in 1997, my Christmas break was once again dominated by Crash Bandicoot and the sequel, Cortex Strikes Back. Much of the game had an appropriately snowy, winter theme in contrast to the first game’s tropical theme. This change in theme was expertly mirrored in the game’s music, such as “Snow Go”.
I remember Cortex Strikes Back being much more difficult than the first game, and I don’t think I ever finished it. Still, the music lives fondly in my memories and all the frustrations of dying, repeatedly, have melted away. I mean, just listen to this absolutely BOSS bassline from “Road to Ruin” and just try to be un-amazed.
The next year, again, was followed by another Crash Bandicoot game, and yet another wasted Christmas break on my part. Warped closed out the trilogy for PlayStation, and largely my last foray with the Boundin’ Bandicoot. Warped and its soundtrack managed to outdo itself once again, though, as one of console’s best ever.
“Medieval” is an amazing track the undergoes several shifts in tone and theme. At first it has a heroic, adventurous melody that culminates into something sounding almost patriotic. The music demonstrates a confidence and sense of scale that was mostly absent from the previous games, and was a personal highlight to the game’s soundtrack.
Part dingo, part crocodile, 100% unholy combination of mammal and reptile, “Dingodile” is a fun track and a fan favorite. It’s also super fun to say, but I guess it also helps that it’s a pretty great boss theme too. You know your music has reached a certain level of fandom when there’s a dubstep remix out there on YouTube.
Credits to the Crash Bandicoot trilogy’s soundtrack go to Mutato Muzika‘s Josh Mancell, who would go on to do music for the Jak and Daxter trilogy on PlayStation 2, as well as several other video games. His work has also appeared on film and on television, and was also nominated for two awards for his work on Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Sadly, the Crash Bandicoot trilogy’s soundtrack never saw an official release, which wasn’t unusual for the time. All of the game’s music exists online as YouTube uploads, which are easy to find.