Nintendo Switch has lots of major exclusives and its share of awesome download titles, but the little hybrid system can still hold its own and join in with major multi-platform titles. A recent example is Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, which arrived earlier in the Spring; in our review we described it as an "excellent offering", with the game making the necessary tweaks and cuts to squeeze onto the system.
We had a chance to pose some questions to Lou Studdert, a Creative Producer at Crash 4 developer Toys for Bob; he told us a little about the development approach, and of course we asked the inevitable question - Crash for Smash?
Can you talk about some of the particular elements that had to be changed to get Crash 4 running on Switch?
Great question! Bringing a game to a new console really depends on the amazing work that our artists and engineers do to customize our game for the specific hardware. Regarding the Switch, there are several things that needed to be done due to its unique nature. To ensure that the game looked and performed at its best, the team had to make adjustments to the following areas: texture size, static model polys, skeletal mesh bones, shadow map density, light map resolution, particle systems and textures.
It appears the game almost has more of an overall cartoonish look than other versions. Did the character models and other textures have to be completely reworked to make this happen?
I wouldn’t say completely reworked; I would definitely say the team made some smart modifications, so the game performed as well as it does on the Switch hardware. Each console is unique in what we have to do to it, so our Engineers and Artists just really make smart decisions on making sure that the game play and the adventure and the feeling of playing Crash Bandicoot 4 is preserved, playing wherever you are.
At what point in development did you decide to bring Crash 4 to Switch?
We don’t really talk about timelines but it’s safe to say we were always fully committed to bringing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time to the platforms that fans wanted to play it on.
For those yet to pick it up, is there anything unique on the Switch version?
As far as the the core adventure, the story and the gameplay goes it is the same; obviously we have done some updates to the appearance of the game to make sure it runs the best it can on the Switch and now you can take Crash Bandicoot 4 on the go wherever you want to play it. So, really it is the inherent specialness of the Switch that is changing the way that you play the game, but the actual content is the same.
Were there any ideas the team had for Crash 4 that never left the drawing board, that you can talk about?
Part of the fun of working with this amazing team is the fact that we put it all out there and whittle it down to the kind of game that you want to make.
Oh yeah, so many… so many! The way that Toys for Bob works is a “let’s throw everything at the drawing board” type environment, and so part of the fun of working with this amazing team is the fact that we put it all out there and whittle it down to the kind of game that you want to make. It’s not that we have cut content, or we didn’t have enough time or anything like, far from it in fact; we actually kept adding things as we were making the game because we kept having these great ideas. Through development, you hone-in on the game that you want to make but we start off with a huge bucket of ideas, we have so many! That’s part of the fun; some ideas are really great, and some are really bad! But that is part of the process of making games.
Platform games of the '90s were famous for having loads of secrets and the occasional cheat code, and the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy had its fair share of course! Are there any secrets still waiting to be discovered in Crash 4?
Well, if I told you they wouldn’t be secrets anymore… I think you’ll be pretty happy with your discoveries.
We all dream of that day, don’t we?! If I had any influence, I sure would love to see that as well but it’s something out of my hands entirely!
What’s next for the Toys for Bob team? Crash and Spyro have often been seen as friends in the realm of platformers. Could we ever see them buddy up again for a new adventure like they did on Game Boy Advance and in the Skylanders series?
Who knows? We aren’t specifically talking about anything that we are doing next up but the sky’s the limit at this point. Watch this space.
A big thanks to Lou Studdert for their time; are you a fan of Crash 4 on Switch?