In 1997, developer Rare gifted N64 owners of the world with Blast Corps. Built around the concept of escorting a nuclear vehicle through various areas by demolishing every building that is in its path, this inventive little title proved to be one of the most clever - and downright enjoyable - twists on the puzzle genre that gamers had ever seen.
In 2016, Steam user Beesus wishes to gift PC, Mac and Linux gamers with a title designed around using various vehicles to demolish various buildings that stand in the way of a semi truck carrying nuclear cargo. Dubbed Crash Co., his project may just be the most shameless video game rip-off to come along in years.
It may also be the most welcome rip-off to come along in that time as well.
Though the original Blast Corps certainly earned much of its notoriety by engineering a concept that no other game company had ever given us before, it's also one of the rare games (no pun intended) of that era that manages to stand strong even when you are not wearing the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Blast Corps was a revelation at the time of its release due to the untethered chaos it allowed gamers to generate through a variety of creative vehicles. Its combination of classic gameplay concepts such as high scores with the very best of modern technology led to a game that was as accessible as it was innovative.
Even today, there are few open-world style games of that can match Blast Corps in terms of pure fun. There's perhaps no greater confirmation of this than the game's recent appearance on the Xbox One Rare Replay collection, which confirms that Blast Corps has indeed retained the qualities that made it feel so very special upon its release.
For as amazing as Blast Corps was and is, though, it was never really intended to become a franchise. Martin Wakeley - the game's lead designer - confirmed as much in 2009 when he stated that the concepts behind Blast Corps had been fully exhausted in the first game. Even if that is perhaps true, the love that fans have for this game to this very day makes it clear that they would gladly accept a Blast Corps follow-up that treads the same ground, so long as it gives them more Blast Corps to play.
This is why Crash Co. feels so welcome. Even though the game is in its very early Beta stages, the one thing that it already makes clear is that it weilds no shame in how closely it resembles Blast Corps. Not only is the game’s basic concept a copy and paste of Blast Corps’, but more specific elements such as its vehicle selection and font choices are directly lifted from Rare’s 1997 title.
To his credit, Crash Co’s developer does not shy away from this comparison. Indeed, the game’s Steam Greenlight description makes it clear that this is a re-imagining/unofficial follow-up to Blast Corps. While it’s tempting to ridicule him for stealing the ideas of a beloved title at a time when gaming innovation is more crucial than ever, in a world where Blast Corps’ own developers have clearly indicated they have no interest in continuing the franchise, and no other developer has stepped up to carry on the legacy of Blast Corps with an independent property, then why shouldn’t a fan with the ability to do so step up and provide gamers with the follow-up that we were never likely going to get any other way?
In its current state, it’s almost impossible to tell whether Crash Co. will be worthy of its inspiration. Certain original elements like mini-games shown in the game’s trailer look like they may not mesh with the rest of the experience and the game’s mechanics need a hefty amount of fine-tuning before they’re retail ready.
Regardless of whether or not Crash Co. is successful, though, it’s important to not dismiss it outright. One of the primary jobs of indie gaming is to provide experiences that no other company is currently doing and, in its own way, that is what Crash Co. is attempting to do.