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The Reason Crash Bandicoot's Girlfriend Tawna Disappeared

Fans of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy remember Tawna, Crash Bandicoot's girlfriend who made her debut in the first entry in the series. She was a bodacious, anthropomorphic orange bandicoot that Crash had to save from the clutches of the evil Dr. Neo Cortex. Upon succeeding, Tawna would lift Crash in her arms and hold him close as Cortex's island burned to a crisp in the background. Truly the epitome of romance.

But after Crash saved her in the first game, Tawna suddenly disappeared from subsequent entries in the series. For the remainder of the trilogy, Tawna was treated as if she had never existed, and instead Crash's sister, Coco, filled in the role of the female member on Crash's team. 

Tawna did make minor cameos in later games in the series such as Crash Twinsanity and Crash: Mind Over Mutant in the form of posters and pictures. She was also an unlockable character in the 2006 title Crash Boom Bang as well, but that was her first real appearance since the original 1996 game. So what exactly caused the disappearance of Crash's girlfriend?

Tawna's disappearance was demanded by higher ups

It turns out that Tawna's vanishing act was actually a result of corporate backlash. During an interview with fan-site Crash Mania, Jason Rubin the co-founder of Naughty Dog and the Crash Bandicoot series, explained that there was a lot of drama regarding Tawna's character design. Rubin said that Naughty Dog originally wanted to make Tawna cartoonishly sexy, similar to Jessica Rabbit. However, when this design caught the eyes of the marketing director of Universal Interactive (the game's publisher), she became very upset, believing Tawna's design to be sexist.

"She called me into the office and yelled at me that women were not to be objectified in such manners, and that no real woman would ever wear such clothing," Rubin said. "She also insisted that as of that date 'no video game would ever be successful because of a sexy woman ever again.'"

The marketing director's outrage stirred up so much trouble that the president of Universal forced Naughty Dog to tone down Tawna's design. The final result ended up being a version of Tawna that Rubin described as a "disaster." Apparently, this was one of many arguments between the two, and though the marketing director won the argument over Tawna's design, many fans might be happy that her ideas to give Crash himself names like "Wez," Wuzzles," or "Wizzy the Wombat" didn't make it.

Unsatisfied with the final design for Tawna, Naughty Dog decided to completely drop Tawna from future entries.

Tawna did eventually make a return

Although Tawna was absent for several years, she did eventually make a comeback. When the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was released in 2017, Tawna's character made a return. Although she was only featured in the first entry of the trilogy, her updated design was very reminiscent of her original 1996 appearance, sporting voluminous blonde hair, eye makeup, short jean shorts, a pink top, and a pair of red sneakers. During the opening of Crash Bandicoot, she was also shown to be a bit more independent, taking down one of Cortex's goons all on her own.

More recently, Tawna also made an appearance — kind of — in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. In this game, Tawna's design is radically different from her N. Sane Trilogy appearance. Instead of her former sporty get-up, Tawna has a more punk aesthetic that is further enhanced by her many piercings, dyed faux hawk, and a spiked jacket. While this version of Tawna is actually the alternate dimensional counterpart to the Tawna from the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, she's still technically the same orange bandicoot that was sorely missed by fans for several years.

At the end of the day, Rubin seems to have found some peace with the original Tawna debacle. In his words, "Although I think the attitude of the marketing director that killed Tawna was silly, I do understand the frustration girls must have felt when facing the restricted choice of playing either a male character or a sexpot...There are more options now, but we still have a long way to go."