Hot off the heels of releasing the Game Boy Advance version of Crash Nitro Kart, developer Vicarious Visions was in need of another hit. Suddenly the idea struck them to do something the likes of which we had never seen before, the idea to join together two of gaming’s most beloved mascots at the height of their popularity. The result of such a venture? Crash Purple: Ripto’s Rampage and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy.
Released in 2004 when I was 10, the two GBA games took a leaf out of Game Freak’s book, releasing two co-developed games parallel alongside each other. Arguably an even riskier swing when compared to their pocket monster inspirations, both games would turn out to be wildly different from each other both in terms of presentation and gameplay, each delivering two halves of a whole story.
The main bulk of the games played out via a side-scrolling hub world each with their own unique hook or environmental style. From here you’d be greeted with any one of roughly 15 mini games that although lacked depth, dazzled you with the fact that both mascots was facing off against the other’s villain. Personally I’d always had more affinity for Crash over the purple fire-breather, so I was enamoured by various Wumpa fruits littered throughout Ripto’s Rampage.
In my eyes, there had never been such a cool crossover concept outside of the odd fighting game like the Marvel Vs Capcom series, and the fact that it was happening on a handheld was equally as crazy. Long before Sonic crossed paths with Mario on the Wii, 90s icons Crash and Spyro were duking it out in the early 2000s, very much acting the last bastion before both franchises went into a prolonged hibernation.
My reason for believing that it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever get such an experimental game crossover such as Crash Purple: Ripto’s Rampage and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy ever again is simple: logistics. Since the character’s initial creation in 1996, the rights to him have transferred over no less than 5 times, presently owned by Activision who up until very recently, hadn’t known what to do with the poor blighter. While Spyro found relative success by acting as the key to launching the Skylanders franchise, in today’s modern climate it’d prove too risky to pursue such a venture.
Sadly, when looking at Crash and Spyro’s crossover experiences objectively, they turned out to be little more than middling quality-wise, but this doesn’t take away from Vicarious Visions’ impressive ability to facilitate the meeting of two game icons in an intriguing way. It’s rather fitting therefore that some 13 years later, it’s these same developers who have welcomed the jort-wearing bandicoot home via the N. Sane Trilogy on PS4. A belated reward of sorts for a team who chose to think outside of the box, just before two of video gaming’s most recognisable heroes would be put on an extended hiatus.