The early 1990s played host to one of the biggest battlegrounds the world has ever seen: the console wars. Nintendo and SEGA's mascots were locked in a merciless duel over the gaming throne, but when the smoke cleared, a surprise third challenger was rising to the top: the Sony Playstation. And it didn't have just one mascot— it had two!
The fourth episode of season five calls two video game mascots to the field, cartoony creatures and mainstays from the world of 90's platformers. The hosts will pit against the versatility of science against that of dragon magic, wit and savvy against legend and power, for Crash and Spyro are unrivaled in their experiences, but only one can shine brighter when needed to and take home victory in a death battle.
Wiz and Boomstick start the episode with a rundown of Crash Bandicoot, the uplifted animal that mad scientist and would-be world conqueror Neo Cortex chose as the centerpiece of his genetically modified army. Crash was one of the many inventions of Cortex's design, courtesy of his colleague Nitrous Brio's evolvo-ray, but the bandicoot failed to live up to Cortex's expectations and was exiled to the N. Sanity islands southeast of Australia. Crash's fellow bandicoot Tawna was still in the domain of Cortex's castle, however, and knowing Crash would venture forth to rescue her, the scientist sent forth his other creations to stop the marsupial, marking the first in a long line of conflicts between maker and beast.
Cortex may have failed in creating the leader of his mutated monstrosities, yet Crash is still a specimen worth notice. Like fellow marsupial the kangaroo, Crash is an expert at jumping and acrobatics in general; the ability to double jump, slide, and supercharged sprinting are among other examples of the bandicoot's nimbleness. The effects of the evolve-ray extend even further, as with Cortex's machinations, Crash has developed superhuman strength and durability, and the ability to harness Mojo, which, in the lore of his series, is the essence of life itself. Between his inherent agility and the workings of mad science, Crash is a talented combatant who fights predominantly using kicks; his signature move being the extremely fast Cyclone Spin, which, when upgraded to the Death Tornado, can be extended to an even greater duration and even lets Crash glide short distances. Future battles with Cortex and his horde of mutants would require more sophisticated technology to match, the specialty of Crash's genius sister Coco. Helicopter packs and mech suits, bazookas and space helicopters, all are simple fare for Coco to construct. The witch doctor spirit Aku Aku would also serve as a mentor to the bandicoots, protecting them on their travels to foil Cortex and his fellow scientists.
Crash is never truly overwhelmed in his various outings to foil Cortex. While his Cyclone Spin is capable of launching 8-ton boulders with enough force to shatter on impact and he himself can outrun polar bears at 25 mph, the bandicoot's ultimate calling card is his durability. A small sampling of the incidents Crash has survived include dozens of wooden crates crashing onto him and enough TNT to level a city block; while with Aku Aku's protection, the pair have withstood a space shuttle's reentry and crash landing with over 2 million tons of force. That said, his Death Tornado has an added weakness of leaving Crash briefly disoriented after use, and his gullible nature means he can be easily tricked into falling for the simplest of traps, where many of his feats of toughness stem from. A flaw in Cortex's design, to be sure, but not one that immediately robs Crash of merit, as despite his apparent simplemindedness and relatively mute nature, he is an expert puzzle solver, as proven by the various environments he finds himself traveling through and escaping from none the worse for wear. The bandicoot is indeed a formidable foe, and for good reason, for it is with the aid of the scientist's experiments and the myriad companions Crash has gathered along the way that have seen him through time and again.
From Crash, the hosts shift gears to Spyro, whose story is one that covers several ages and multiple worlds; for the sake of convenience, however, the match will use the Spyro with the widest selection of abilities, that being from The Legend of Spyro continuity. In this reality, a purple dragon is born every ten generation as part of a prophecy to be the greatest hero of his time, but the first purple dragon, the ancient Malefor, sought the extinction of his own kind. As such, he ordered his army of apes to destroy every dragon egg in all the realms, but in the midst of his attempted genocide, Ignitus, the guardian dragon of fire, smuggled the purple dragon egg and sent it down a silver river, where the dragonflies Nina and Flash would adopt him as their own. Spyro spent his early years in the seclusion of his swamp homeland until Malefor's gorilla henchmen found Spyro playing alongside the dragonflies' actual offspring Sparx, and kidnapped his adoptive brother. Spyro, in an act of desperation, inadvertently unleashed a blast of fire on the apes; the first sign of his true heritage. With Sparx by his side, Spyro set off into the world in search of finding more dragons like him.
Though Sparx may have accompanied Spyro for the purpose of serving as his guardian, the purple dragon is more than capable of fending for himself. Spyro would rescue Ignitus and the other guardian dragons, across his travels through the realms, and out of gratitude, they trained the purple dragon in the ways of the elemental magics; fire, lightning, ice, and earth. Spyro is also proficient in the martial art of dragon kata, which utilizes his natural horns, claws, and tail, and even learned how to attain proper flight and the ability to slow down his perception of time, the latter being a skill unique to the generational purple dragon. In the most dire of circumstances, the purple dragons like Spyro can call upon the rarest and most powerful of all the elements, aether. Aether is described as that which binds the realms of the living and the dead together, made manifest through drawing from the other four elements with force that can rend matter apart on an atomic level, equivalent to over 300 megajoules of energy. Aether is a very versatile element, but it is reliant on a steady mix of light and dark; if negative emotions like hatred and anger become overwhelming, a purple dragon can descend into a dark form where their strengths are amplified greatly.
Any incarnation of Spyro stands out for what he is capable of performing. Over the years, Spyro has outraced biplanes that can fly at almost 160 mph, pushed a statue twice his size made of pure gold, and withstood punches from an enormous golem; the last feat stands out considering the sheer size of the golem. During the fight, Spyro and fellow dragon Cynder demolished one of the golem's arms, forcing it to replace it with a cathedral tower. Even lowballing the specifics of the cathedral arm, calculations place its punching power at almost 2 million tons. While this may be impressive, this does not make Spyro entirely perfect. The influence of dark aether and the subsequent transformation into the dark form grants an increase in power, but it extends to extremely destructive levels, and the dragon is locked into this form without the aid of others to provide emotional support. Thankfully, he has allies by his side to aid him in his fight beyond the moral aid they provide, defeating Malefor and even rebuilding their shattered world, making good on the prophecy that heralded Spyro's arrival.
- Spyro the Dragon: It's a sad sight, Sparx. Another noble warrior falls victim to the plague of love. (scoffs) Just look away.
Both combatants have had their time to shine, and the blood is soon to follow. One advertisement for the Blue Apron cooking service later, and now, it's time for a death battle!
Another day passes on N. Sanity Island as Crash Bandicoot, the bane of mad scientist Neo Cortex, busts a series of crates open. Falling flat on his face, he fails to notice Spyro the Dragon, savior of the dragonrealms, swooping in on Crash out of confusion. The golden dragonfly Sparx, seems to follow in perplexity, zipping over to the bandicoot and swirling about; Crash cringes and winces at the sound of Sparx's shrill droning. Soon he reaches his breaking point, squishing the dragonfly by slamming his hands together. It takes a moment for Spyro to register Crash's actions, but in horror, the dragon charges towards the marsupial, who seems all too eager to take another life.
Crash meets Spyro's ramming attack with a headbutt of his own before the two creatures leap backwards. Spyro soon closes the distance, but for his effort, Crash nimbly dodges his claw swipes; even the sweeping tail strike that follows in their wake is effortlessly vaulted over. Crash regains his footing and lands the first several blows of the match, trapping Spyro in a Cyclone Spin. The purple dragon is launched away, and watching Crash mirthfully dance about, decides to call upon his heavier firepower. Spyro ascends to the air and unleashes a torrent of flame, which would be the end for the bandicoot, if not for the spirit mask Aku Aku being summoned from nothingness to block the inferno.
In the meantime, Crash has scampered off, scaling a nearby boulder to vault off of and leap towards the dragon, with an arm cocked back. Unfortunately for Cortex's creation, Spyro channels fire around him before releasing it in an omnidirectional blast that instead launches him back to earth. The dragon stays on the offensive, launching exploding fireballs at a fleeing Crash. The bandicoot sees a mech suit in sight and outraces a second volley of fireballs to suit up into the mech, its wumpa fruit cannon primed and loaded. Spyro barely dodges a round of edible ammunition as it splatters into pulp. A further barrage of fruit follows before the slayer of Malefor returns fire and ice, magical projectiles meeting wumpa in mid-flight.
The recoil from the wumpa cannon forces the mech closer and closer to the cliffside edge, an opportunity Spyro takes by unleashing a concentrated beam of ice to freeze the bandicoot in place. As he descends, Spyro follows it up with earth magic to transform into a spiked boulder, plowing straight into Crash and knocking him of the cliff. His short-lived delight turns to bewilderment, however, as it turns out that Crash has exchanged the mech for a helicopter pack, hapharzardly tilting about in the air. The bandicoot divebobs Spyro, and though the dragon darts around him, his own attempt at channeling further ice magic is cut short when Crash body checks him, followed up by an extended Death Tornado, kicking Spyro in the face numerous times over until knocked out of leg's reach.
Spyro has had his fill of the match and gives in to his anger, dark aether encircling him. In a blast of lightning, Dark Spyro is awakened, his gaze fixed squarely on the flying bandicoot. A streak of aether follows in the dragon's wake as he charges at Crash, shattering the helicopter pack and condemning the science project to the seas below. His frenzied whimpering soon ceases as he reclines in the air. The hero of the dragonrealms has none of this as he glides down beneath Crash and lets loose a colossal stream of aether, one so intense that Aku Aku is immediately obliterated, leaving Crash to be fried from the energy beam. Dark Spyro touches down on the cliffside and delivers a final comment of his superiority before soaring off.
With Crash now ceased to be, the hosts take the time to analyze why. Spyro had a great many advantages in the fight, such as that his speed and flight would let him fight on his terms, and the variety of attacks granted to him by his elemental magics served as something Crash would be unaccostumed to. Even with his savvy and intellect in puzzle solving, there would be too many attacks for him to keep up with. However, Crash would not be completely lost in the match; by tossing an eight-ton boulder, it was Crash that had the advantage in strength and both were fairly even in terms of durability. The fight would be a stalemate with how they could both easily withstand what the other could deliver, if not for the aether of Dark Spyro, which, with its atom-smashing strength, would be a force well beyond anything even Aku Aku could protect Crash against.
- Boomstick: I guess Crash just couldn't spin this one.
Wiz: The winner is Spyro the Dragon!
Crash vs. Spyro provides examples of:
- Adaptational Villainy: Crash is portrayed as the antagonist of this episode being the one to start it by killing Sparx. He even sports a Slasher Smile when doing so!
- Air Jousting: The finale of the match sees Crash in the helicopter pack and Spyro darting back and forth, at least until the machine is broken.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: An in-universe example from Wizard, who sees Crash's mute nature and puzzle-solving intellect as signs of autism.
- Composite Character: Of a sort. The majority of Spyro's character represented stems from the Legend trilogy, but he also has feats from the original continuity and the dragon kata specifically comes from Shadow Legacy, the last game of the first series.
- Continuity Nod: Boomstick is both attracted and repulsed by Tawna's design, as he was when assuming previous combatant Bayonetta was a monkey witch.
- Edible Ammunition: Crash's bazooka utilizes wumpa fruit as its ammo, which even confuses Spyro in the battle.
- Epileptic Trees: Boomstick subscribes to and explains the fandom theory that the Spyro games are all part of the same continuity and each Spyro is a reincarnation of the previous one, citing the creation of the Skylanders world at the end of the Legend trilogy.
- The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Crash is confident that his toughness and Aku Aku can protect him as he falls from the sky into the water that he just relaxes without even moving — even when Spyro unleashes his Aether Breath. As it turns out, this was a fatal mistake.
- Magic Versus Science: In one corner, we have the bandicoot with jetpacks and bazookas, and is even a product of mad science. In the other corner, there's the dragon who channels the elements and can naturally slow down time. With the assistance of atom-smashing aether, it's team magic that turns out to be the victor.
- Mythology Gag:
- At one point in the battle, Crash is seen frantically running towards the camera as Spyro chases him from behind; this harkens back to a number of levels from the original Crash Bandicoot games with similar chase sequences (e.g. Un-Bearable, Dino Might, Bone Yard).
- When the Wumpa Fruit projectile misses and hits the cliff, it makes a splatter with purple and orange/yellow parts. Wumpa Fruits in Crash's series have had either purple or orange-yellow juice depending on the game.
- No Body Left Behind: Both Crash and Aku Aku are completely atomized by the aether breath of Dark Spyro.
- Noodle Incident: Mention is made of Boomstick shooting Wizard with a potato gun; the only details provided are that the latter was in a coma for a month and Boomstick covered up the incident.
- One-Hit Kill: Thanks to each combatant's insane durability, they couldn't really do much damage to each other. Spyro's Aether Breath, however, was capable of instantly disintegrating the Bandicoot in one shot as it could overcome the marsupial's durability several times over.
- Padded Sumo Gameplay: The hosts' analysis showed that both combatants were about the same toughness and could survive each others' attacks for the most part... but Spyro's Aether Breath was enough to overcome it by disintegrating on the molecular level.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Sparx has been avenged, but without his presence and Cynder nowhere to be found, Spyro has succumbed to his Dark form for the foreseeable future.
- Retraux: The battle graphics are deliberately low-poly to mimic the Playstation's capabilities, the most striking example being the tile-patterned water.
- Boomstick considers Crash's Mini-Mecha a watered-down version of the Powerloader suit from Alien.
- To describe the destructive potential of Spyro's aether breath, a comparison is made of Russian scientist Anatoli Bugorski sticking his head inside a particle accelerator; footage from Iron Man 2 is used as a "dramatic re-enactment" of the moment.
- Wiz is noticeably disdainful of the Moses in the Bullrushes trope, citing the X-Men cartoon, Batman Returns, Superman, The Prince of Egypt, and Dragon Ball all as examples of its overuse.
- Spiritual Successor:
- Superpowered Evil Side: Dark Spyro, which is unleashed when the dragon's negative emotions become too much, is markedly stronger than base form Spyro; his aether breath in this state is what tips the match in his favor.
- Super Toughness: Both combatants are absurdly tough to the point of being able to tank millions of tons worth of force. However, Crash wasn't tough enough to survive Spyro's Aether Breath, which is comparable to an atom smasher in terms of power.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Boomstick is not a big fan of the idea that Sparx tagged along in Spyro's journey to keep him safe."Not like he needed it! He's the chosen one, bitch!"