Welcoming Back An Icon
Nostalgia is all the rage in video games at the moment. It seems that wherever you look another video game publisher is trying to sell you a reboot, remake or remaster of a popular franchise from the past.
This wave of nostalgia isn’t all bad though, as it paved the way for the return of 1990’s Playstation gaming icon, Crash Bandicoot. Everyone’s favourite mad marsupial is back and with a new look to boot. Publisher Activision last week released, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, developed by Vicarious Visions. The collection features remastered versions of Crash Bandicoot’s first three games.
That’s Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot: Warped remade in beautiful current generation graphics.
Gameplay and Visuals
While developer Vicarious Visions did rebuild Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy from the ground up, it still maintains the overall feel of a Crash Bandicoot game.
With only the wireframe models from the three original Naughty Dog titles to work with, Vicarious Visions succeeded in recapturing the magic of these three Playstation era classics. Part of what makes Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy feel so familiar is the decision to keep the controls the exact same as the originals and it really adds to authenticity of the entire experience.
Graphically Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy looks like you are playing a cartoon rather than a video game. Beautiful new character model are used for anything from Crash himself, his sister Coco, who is a playable character in all three games this time around, Neo Cortex and his various henchmen to the standard enemies that populate each level.
Speaking of the levels, while the layouts remain the same each of them has been given a fresh coat of paint. The jungles now look lush, the temples dark and foreboding, the snow levels ice-cold and the futuristic levels are filled with vibrant colours. Further adding to their graphical polish, the iconic music of each of the levels has been remastered too so Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy truly feels like a modern game as opposed to a franchise that’s twenty years old.
Was It Always This Hard?
The first thing you’re going to notice when you play Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, particularly in the first game in the trilogy, is the difficulty.
After about the first five levels or so, there is a noticeably upswing in the difficulty. You will go from beating levels on the first or second try to hearing the words ‘Game Over’ with such frequency, that you would swear the game was developed by From Software.
This however is due to the fact that the platformers of the late 1980’s and 1990’s were designed to played over and over again. Players would have had no incentive to return to the game if they could just breeze through them. Despite Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy being as difficult as it is however, it still managed to strike a nice balance between fun and difficulty, and is rarely if ever overly frustrating.
Not Trying To Be Negative
Well I enjoyed Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy for the most part the game does have a few minor issues. A contributing factor to the difficulty of the game, is Vicarious Visions decision to build the jumping mechanics around those from Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
While this makes little or no difference to Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back or the remastered Crash Bandicoot: Warped, it does lead to some issue with the original Crash Bandicoot.
In the second and third games in the trilogy, a lot of the harder jumps in levels and generally longer the average jumps whereas in the original you’re more likely to encounter a lot of shorter precision jumps.
The jumping mechanics from Crash Bandicoot: Warped make Crash’s jump a little bit longer than it was in the original and in turn makes precision short jumps much harder than they already were.
Another gameplay issue are the changes to Crash’s hit box. In the original trilogy, Crash’s hit box was a square; meaning once any part of his feet touched a platform, he landed on it. In N. Sane Trilogy however, Crash’s hit box is now a much smaller cone-shaped area at the bottom of his model.
This slight change to the character model results in many instances of Crash sliding off platforms. Simply because you didn’t make the jump perfectly. While with some practice this becomes less of an issue in time, it is a design choice that further inflates the game’s difficulty.
I Am N. Sane For Crash Bandicoot
All in all, despite some minor gripes, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy is both a wonderful trip down memory lane and one of the must have games of 2017.
With a price point of €40, and the hours of fun to be had with all three games, you’re unlikely to find another game that is better value than Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy.
Either log onto PSN or go buy a physical copy right now. It’s still a few months before a certain plumber returns to throw his hat (literally) into the ring so that we can determine the true king of 3D platformers.