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24 Years Later And We’re Still Waiting For That ‘Croc’ Reboot

24 Years Later And We’re Still Waiting For That ‘Croc’ Reboot

Gone but not forgotten.

I spent much of my childhood glued to my big brother’s PlayStation (much to his annoyance I’d imagine) playing one genre of game in particular - the platformer. From Crash Bandicoot to Spyro the Dragon, platformers of the late 90s gave rise to the titans of my early years, yet there’s one first-gen PlayStation era icon whose legacy seems to have faded with time - Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.

To this day, I can picture the opening scene so clearly – the rainbow above Gobbo Valley, the arrival of baby Croc himself, and the kidnap of Gobbo King Rufus by the evil Baron Dante. I bet it’s all coming back now. Can you hear the crash of the Beany Bird gong at the end of each level? The chime of the crystal orbs you’d collected as they were counted and stored? Watch that scene back now, 24 years later, and it’s a certified nostalgia trip – yet still, Croc has faded into video game oblivion.

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos /
Argonaut Games

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos has a unique origin story – one which reveals what seems like an obvious fact in hindsight. Developer Argonaut Games were initially partnered with Nintendo, creating a processing chip, when they decided to pitch a Yoshi stand-alone game. This 3D platformer would be a spin-off of the Super Mario series, but Nintendo rejected the idea causing Argonaut to break off their partnership and in September 1997, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was born.

The similarities are blindingly obvious. Yoshi, a cute green dinosaur, became Croc, a cute green crocodile. All it needs is for Croc to don some orange boots and backplates and he’d have the perfect cosplay. Of course, there’s the obvious platforming elements many games of the genre borrowed from one another – plus there’s those question mark covered crates. You can see why Nintendo might’ve been peeved.

Critics too took notice, picking up on Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ borrowing of popular elements from other platformers including Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider, and Sonic the Hedgehog but then again, which platformers didn’t borrow elements? The game went on to become one of Argonaut Games’ best-selling games selling a respectable 3 million PlayStation copies which is decent for a first-gen PlayStation game.

Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos /
Argonaut Games

Sure, the Ghibli-esque cuteness of the Gobbos helps, but Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ enduring fondness in the mind of its fans stems from its narrative. Other platformers of the era had storylines too, but Crash’s mission to save his girlfriend Tawna just didn’t quite hit as emotionally as Croc’s mission to save King Rufus – and his realisation in the process that the Gobbos had become his adoptive family. When you consider that the game lacks any dialogue besides the odd “yazoo,” “heeyup,” or evil cackle, successfully crafting an emotive narrative is no mean feat. That’s if you ever reached the end of the game which may have taken me months as opposed to hours, but I think we can all be forgiven for our childhood skill – or clearly lack of.

Even for the most seasoned platformer player, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos packed in enough of a challenge. The awkward controls were unintentionally partially responsible. Do you remember when Croc would just fall off an edge you weren’t really that close to? The game had plenty of intentional challenges too, though. For the 1990s, the variety of obstacles you faced was impressive – from dropping and moving platforms, to those you could control the movement of yourself, and to Baron Dante’s pesky Dantinis. It all sounds simple enough, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who completed every level the first time around.

Two years after the release of Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, our favourite knock-off Yoshi returned in Croc 2. Released in 1999, the sequel followed Croc’s search for his real parents following the resurrection of Baron Dante. If you’ve played it (which its 73,000 units sold indicate you probably didn’t) the game was a fun follow-up to the previous game – even if it did use the tried and tested formula to a T. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of the end for the franchise. Commercial failure led to a cancelled Croc 3 and a planned TV series was also scrapped – which I’m still not over.

Fast forward to now, 24 long years after Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ release, and there really is no better time to reboot this underrated gem. The past few years have been somewhat of a renaissance for the 90s platformer. We’ve all reverted back to our childhood selves playing Super Mario Odyssey, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, and Crash 4: It’s About Time. Recent big hitters like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Fall Guys have proved a pretty obvious fact – there’s always an appetite for wholesome games. After all, we all need a break from the intensity of battle royales from time to time and Croc: Legend of the Gobbos has one magic ingredient that these aforementioned games don’t – nostalgia.

Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos /
Argonaut Games

Crash, Spyro, and Mario have re-embedded themselves in the current line-up of gaming icons to the point where nostalgia has become more fleeting. If you want to play the original Crash Bandicoot, you can. If you’ve got a PlayStation 5, you can do so for free with the PS Plus PS5 Collection. One day, I’m sure Crash will enter another lull but for now, its presence in our lives feels like a given. Croc on the other hand is much more elusive – an unattainability unless you still have a working first-gen PlayStation.

PlayStation 5 freebie Astro’s Playroom is a great example of what a rebooted Croc: Legend of the Gobbos could be. By utilising the DualSense’s features, a rebooted Croc could vastly improve its oftentimes infuriating playability whilst adding touches of environmental immersion. For its era, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos used a wide array of locales – including forests, deserts, icy terrains, and caves – but it would be great to see these overhauled. I love a bit of interactive vegetation as much as the next gamer, but added depth and scale alone would be a vast improvement. It would also pave the way for new obstacles like swinging vines, quicksand, slippy ice, or even water-related obstacles requiring Croc to swim. It would be great to see Justin Scharvona back on board creating the score which was instrumental in setting Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ mood.

I’m definitely not alone in wanting this game to be rebooted. There’s been a #BringBackCroc campaign for several years, albeit a fruitless one. The difficulty stems from Argonaut Games’ closure in 2007 but the good news is that studio founder Jez San teased on Twitter in June 2020 that he wants to reboot the game “one day”. For us fans, our hope rests on a tenuous ‘want’ but for now, it’s the best we’ve got. A reboot is the perfect opportunity to introduce this delightful game to a new generation whilst allowing the rest of us to relive our childhood joy. It’s time for Crash and Spyro to take a back seat, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos is the nostalgia-fuelled reboot we need and deserve.

Featured Image Credit: Argonaut Games