After almost a decade since a console release, Crash Bandicoot returns with the N. Sane Trilogy.
Remember the Native Fortress? Well you will after fifteen attempts at beating it, and that’s just one of the first levels.
Crash Bandicoot’s difficulty ramps up to old-school ridiculous after Hog Wild, to the point of almost being unfair, almost. That’s the brilliance of Crash levels; they make you insanely frustrated, to the point that you want to throw your controller, but as soon as you learn the level and beat it, you can’t wait for another to begin.
Vicarious Visions’ take on the original trilogy is nostalgia inducing, with the lush 3D environments getting the next-gen upgrade, and the voice cast returning to make it feel really special.
It’s hard to find fault with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, as all three games have enough content to keep players thoroughly invested. This results in one of the best remakes in recent memory, offering great value, so it’s no surprise that it’s currently the biggest single-platform release of the year.
What’s new, Bandicoot?
Apart from the fact that Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped have all been completely remade keeping as close as possible to the originals, not much.
In addition to the fresh coat of paint the games have received, being able to play as Coco is a welcome change and adds a bit of extra replay value to the game. Coco can be unlocked in each title at various points. In the first game Crash’s sister can be found below Papu Papu’s shack, and the player is then able to toggle the option on or off. In Cortex Strikes Back she is found after Ripper Roo, and in Warped she is available at the start. There are limitations in which levels she can complete, however, it means that she can finally go get her own laptop battery.
Speaking of adding replayability, going back into levels to collect gems and complete time trials also help to lengthen the experience. That is, if you can stand to go through some of the hardest platforming levels of all time a second or third time. Just be prepared to lose some of those ‘Crash Bandicoot lives’.
N. Sane then, N. Saner now
Many players will be asking themselves the same question; was it always this hard? Well the answer is yes and no. All the levels in the N. Sane Trilogy are meticulously designed to mirror the originals, however, jumping feels slightly broken in Crash 1. In Naughty Dog’s version they would give players the benefit of the doubt, allowing Crash to clip onto ledges instead of falling and sliding straight off. There is a momentum system in the remake too, so stop for a second in a jumping section and it’ll mean the end for our furry friend. This is the main reason that Crash 1 is my least favourite remake of the three. Timing is now not the only obstacle.
The jumping mechanics for each of the original games were different, therefore Vicarious will have had a tough time re-implementing them for the N. Sane Trilogy. This is seen when playing through the sequels, as jumping feels more suited to those games, with Crash 3: Warped’s jump seemingly used as the basis for all three games. For evidence see Reddit user Radhew’s post, or play Road to Nowhere without using the rope cheat and see what the hit boxes and jumping is like now. Hopefully Vicarious look into tweaking the above in the future, and if it is altered then the trilogy would be near perfect.
When playing through Crash 1 especially I found it useful to use the directional buttons, instead of the now typically accepted analog controls. This is because the game was originally made for these controls, so the player has more control over Crash. So if you are struggling with the movement in-game then I’d recommend giving them a try.
It’s Crash Bandicoot!
So, if you’ve never played a Crash game before here’s what you basically have to do. The objective is simply to complete the level, and in Cortex Strikes Back and Warped, collect crystals along the way. Completing the level after smashing all the boxes will also grant players a gem which can be used to unlock a secret ending. Boxes contain either lives, an Aku Aku, or wumpa fruit. If 100 wumpa fruit are collected then this will also generate an extra life (you’ll need it). If three Aku Aku are collected in a level, then the player becomes invincible during the ‘ooga-booga’ phase (however you will not be saved from gravity).
Completing five levels will then lead to a boss battle. These can be hilariously easy when compared to some of the levels the player must go through in order to reach them, however, they are fun and feel like a nice pay off for the players’ hard work. The best boss fights include encounters with Tiny Tiger, Dingodile, Ripper Roo, N. Gin, and Crash’s mortal enemy Dr. Neo Cortex. My personal favourite fight, however, is in Warped, and is when the player faces Dr. Nefarious Tropy.
As the games progress so too does the quality of level design and bosses. Highlights include Crash 2’s innovative surfing and jet-pack sections, and Crash 3’s motorcycle levels and special abilities (the bazooka is fun). These help to add variety to the game, something which also seems to be missing in the first. Therefore, the games in my opinion, can be ranked from best to worst in reverse order starting from Crash 3: Warped.
Does the game deserve an N. Tropy?
Overall the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a fantastic remake of an absolute classic. It brings ’90s Crash into the next generation of consoles in the right way, allowing veterans and new players alike to shout “woah!” in both excitement and frustration. This is really as good as the series, which has produced some absolute stinkers, will ever get.
The game looks great, with updated visuals and Vicarious’ spin on things (I do kind of miss Crash Bandicoot’s old look though). New effects, such as Crash looking at the boulder that is chasing him, is also a nice touch. The audio is fantastic, with classic sounds, voice acting, and a catchy soundtrack to boot, and the brutal PS1 difficulty returns.
Activision have recently reacted to the high sales of the game by stating that it could “lead to other things.” Whether this means a new sequel or a remade Spyro the Dragon, fans will have to wait and see. Here’s hoping for Crash Bash and CTR remastered.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is now available on PS4.