Any fan of the Crash Bandicoot series will know that Tawna Bandicoot- the love interest and damsel in distress of Crash’s very first adventure- has incited quite a- how should I phrase this…- “fan base” in her time. There’s a rabbit hole here that you really don’t want to venture into (it involves copious amounts of disturbing fan art) but the bottom line is that Tawna was a well-liked character who was pretty much tossed aside after the first game. Considered a little too inappropriate for a child friendly game, Tawna was replaced as the female lead in favour of Crash’s little sister Coco from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back onwards. However, Tawna is making a return in the upcoming sequel Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and she has had a bit of a glow up since her first appearance.
Crash 4– being developed by Toys for Bob, the team behind the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy– will have Crash and Coco venturing through different times and dimensions as the title- It’s About Time– suggests. Small side note, as a fan of clever writing and puns I cannot stress how much I love that title. I digress; the Tawna that Crash and Coco meet in the fourth game is an alternative Tawna from a different dimension. This is a great way to reinvent her character and give her a proper personality this time around. Her new design is pretty awesome as she takes on a futuristic punkish style complete with spiked leather jacket, fingerless gloves and blue hair streaks. We stan a punk rock queen.
Tawna also gets her own gameplay style as well as a whole new wardrobe in It’s About Time. From the gameplay footage and accompanying commentary, you can see that Tawna is a character who focuses on fast and agile gameplay. She is able to manoeuvre levels faster and more nimbly than the other playable characters (Crash, Coco, Neo Cortex and Dingodile). She has a grappling hook which lets her zip around levels super quickly but she is also the only character with the ability to wall jump. She has certainly got her own style and her own way of traversing the in-game world which could make for some really fun and versatile gameplay.
I am very much impressed with this new take on Tawna’s character. This will likely sound super cliché but as a female gamer, it is always encouraging to see a female character revitalised to become their own person or in this case, their own bandicoot. No offense intended but Tawna was basically a walking stereotype in the original 1996 game. The fact that Naughty Dog based her design off of Pamela Anderson and Jessica Rabbit kind of says what kind of character she was intended to represent. Tawna was certainly updated in the 2017 remaster, Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy and in the other remastered Crash game, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. She was given more of a chance to have some personality. For instance, rather than being immediately captured by scientists in the opening cut scene of Crash 1, Tawna is seen fighting a few of them off before being overwhelmed in the N-Sane Trilogy. She is also part of the Nitro Squad in Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, a team of fierce bandicoot gals made up of the Tawna and the trophy girls from the original 1999 Crash Team Racing. She still didn’t have much else to do though. However, It’s About Time is clearly trying to make Tawna a character and a hero in her own right rather than just being a token female love interest. In the PlayStation Blog’s reveal of Tawna’s gameplay– written by art director for Toys for Bob Josh Nadelberg- Nadelberg states that “ We seek to promote and expand upon the representation of female characters in games, and we think that this new Tawna is a complex and aspirational hero that all players will fall in love with”. Video games are becoming more and more versatile in their representation of women and Tawna is a great example of a character that has been able to change with the times. There has obviously been a lot of effort put in from the Toys for Bob team to make Tawna an individual character with her own characteristics and unique abilities. Hopefully she will be a great addition to the game as well as an awesome example of female representation in gaming.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is due for release on October 2nd for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Have a look at Tawna’s gameplay reveal video above.