Quite simply, it was the most horrifying experience of my life. Never have I been so fear-stricken by such an innocent game. The game, , was just a simple, casual game. No gimmicks, no jump scares... Hell, it was rated K-A, or something. In case you don't know what it is or what it is about, let me tell you. The character you play as is a bandicoot (an Australian marsupial) named Crash.
He isn't just any bandicoot though, as he was mutated by an evil scientist guy named Dr. Neo Cortex. So now crash can do all sorts of human-like things, like jump and wear clothes. (By the way, he fashions fingerless gloves, blue jeans, and some red sneakers.) He can't really talk, however, and only utter grunts and growls and the occasional " whenever you get killed by an enemy. People refer to him as Sony's equivalent of Mario, the famous plumber. was originally a Playstation exclusive, but in recent games, has appeared on other platforms. Anyway, enough about the game and more about my terrible experience.
I've owned ' ' and all of its sequels and spinoffs for as long as can remember, and never before has something stood out as odd or abnormal. But everything I thought about these games changed one day, while I was enjoying a friendly session of the first game, and was navigating the main island map. After finishing the rest of the levels 100%, (That means all gems, keys, crates and secret routes) there remained only one level on the game's second island that was incomplete. All I was missing was the level's gem, which I had no idea how to achieve.
The game mechanic is, that when you get a gem in one level, It could possibly open a hidden path in another level. Or something like that, I can’t really put my finger on it now that I remember it’s been so long since I’ve played it. I scoured the internet for pointers, but for some reason I couldn't find anything related to the matter. God forbid I use the Super Password, which beat the game for you. I've never been one to use passwords, or anything like that. I did everything legit, and I liked it that way. "I guess I’m on my own," I thought to myself, searching every level for some hidden clue leading to the location of the gem. Everyone knows what happens if you do manage to get all of the gems, Crash flies away on a big bird with his girlfriend, Tawna. I already knew that, but I still wanted to watch it unfurl under my doing.
Anyway, I was searching in one particular level when I stumbled upon a secret path. “How did I miss this? I swear, I’m such an idiot sometimes.” I said under my breath. Upon Crash taking a step unto the path, I heard an extremely quiet whisper, almost like a breath. Strange, I thought. I continued along the path, jumping across pits and spinning enemies away with Crash’s signature spin attack. Further down the path, I heard another breath, but louder and followed by a strange voice, saying what sounded like “End…near…” At this point, I was certainly freaked out, but I was far along the path and near completion. I carried on, hoping I wouldn’t hear anymore creepy voices. The path got progressively more difficult, and I had a few close shaves with death. By the end of the path it was so hard I began to sweat.
I’ve never been really skilled at video games, but that has never stopped me from playing them. Finally, I heard that faint whirring noise signifying the end portal thing was close. A feeling of relief washed over me, and I continued making my way to the portal. When the end portal appeared onscreen, the feeling of confusement again hit me like a bag of bricks. The portal, originally a carved stone slab with a strange pillar of swirling orange lights rising out of it, was now the slab with a blood red glowing pillar of swirling orbs. I hesitated entering it, afraid of what might be on the other side. Then I remembered the grueling trek it took to get here. “Why have I never been here before?” I asked myself as I approached the portal “Meh, what the hell,” I said again and Crash jumped into the portal.
Again, something strange and freaky occurred. Regularly, when Crash goes in the portal, he jumps and spins in glee or wipes his brow and gives a “phew!” depending on how well you performed the level. This time, though, when Crash got on the stone slab, I swear on everything Holy, he stared into my eyes, with a look of pure terror on his face. Though the graphical limitations on a Playstation are pretty shabby, it was clear Crash was terrified. Before vanishing in a wisp like normal, Crash let out a muffled yelp, and the screen faded to black. I leaned back in my chair and rubbed my nose in disbelief. “What the balls am I playing?” I asked myself out loud. I gathered my thoughts during the loading screen, and when I looked up, instead of the big yellow “LOADING” with the word “Map” under it, the “LOADING” was a darker yellow and a new word appeared under it: Hello.
At this point, I was flipping out, wondering why the hell is this happening now?! The map screen faded in, and the sky was now a purplish-red, as if the sun had just set in-game. The game never had a time cycle, or anything to keep track of time at all. “The hell…?” I was somehow transported from the level I just finished to the game’s second to last level, titled: The Great Hall. The level was just one jump over a small gap and the portal was right there, misleading the player into thinking it was a long hallway and adding a dash of humor. But, if you get all of the gems, a pathway made entirely of the gems forms and takes you to the game’s alternate ending, as said before. The level automatically started, and this time the “LOADING” was an even darker shade of yellow and had the words “Walk in the Park” under it.
“What?” I asked myself again. The level booted up and I spawned on the initial platform. The background music was just a constant, low mumble of gibberish I couldn’t make out. The normal level just had the game’s cheery bonus level theme. Also, another gem path appeared behind the platform, and was made out of blood red gems. I decided, “Hell, game, you’ve already broken my sanity, couldn’t possibly do more damage to take the path,” How foolish that was. It was like beating a dead horse with a stick, but then that horse comes back to life and eats your face. I took Crash down the path and hoped what I would see would be not too unpleasant. Again, a foolish mistake. Suddenly, with Crash’s back facing me, the entire level became shrouded with a pitch-black fog. I continued, unphased by the sudden change in atmosphere. Somehow I knew what was going to happen next. There would be the game’s cast of characters hanging from a tree, and Crash would join them or something cliché like that. But to my surprise, the gem path suddenly ended, and I wasn’t paying attention. So yeah, Crash was falling, but the standard death sequence didn’t play and Crash just kept falling, slowly turning towards me, the same look of horror on his face as when I entered the blood-red portal. The background music changed to the creepy voice chanting “End…near…end…near...end…near…”
This went on and on and progressively got louder, until Crash was staring me dead in the eyes. It was a screaming now, “END NEAR END NEAR END NEAR END NEAR!” I put my hands over my ears, knowing turning the volume down would do nothing to silence the screaming. Crash’s face stretched and stretched until…there was a loud snap, and all went silent. Crash’s lifeless body descended rapidly through the darkness, than vanished. The screen went black, but black like the television was shut off. I was returned to the map screen, and everything was normal again. I went back to the first level, to make sure everything was truly normal. Upon seeing the loading screen, the “LOADING was its normal shade, but under it was what made me flip: “Walk in the Park” I screamed and cursed, then went to shut off the console went something onscreen caught my eye.
The level started, and everything was normal. I resumed playing the level, and eventually completed it. I did the same on the second level, and before I knew it I was on the third. On this particular level, Crash was being chased by a massive boulder and was facing the player the entire time. Upon starting the level, I saw Crash and screamed again. He had that face of pure dread again. “NOPENOPENOPE!” I yelped as I reached for the console’s off button. I pressed the button and the screen went black. It was off. I let out a sigh of relief, but it didn’t last long. I suddenly realized I never got the gem I was missing. “GAWDAMMIT!” I screamed as my rage sent me into a deep sleep. The next day I got rid of all of the Crash Bandicoot games I owned, never to tread on that territory again.