It's hard to believe it's finally here. Twenty long years since the original Crash Bandicoot saw fourteen more Crash or Crash-including video games over two console generations. Yet nothing for the modern day, nothing on the latest platforms. In the last few years, gamers have been crying out for something new for our favorite marsupial, and those cries were finally answered today with the long-awaited release of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
For anyone who owned a PlayStation in the mid 90s, this is a dream come true. All three of the original Crash games fully rebuilt and remastered for the modern day. But can Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy live up to the high expectations set by fans of the series? And can it entice people who have only heard the stories? Let's find out.
Crashing the Remaster Party
Remasters are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. I mean, we've had two games (The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V) that got next-gen remasters within two years of their original releases, and nostalgia seems to still be the flavor of the decade, with throwbacks coming in all shapes and sizes, from straight ports to spiritual successors.
But Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy has arrived on the scene to show us all how it's done. Ladies and gentlemen: this is how you remake a classic video game. I understand that not every game that gets a remaster lends itself to a complete remake, but building the original Crash Bandicoot games essentially from the ground up has still put those other games to shame. Of course, the biggest concern in remastering a game is that it won't be as good as you remember it, but it will almost never look as good. That's not the case with Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, as I'm sure you all have seen.
Vicarious Visions (taking the reigns from Naughty Dog) have gone a step further, actively adding on to and improving on the visuals and environments in the previous games. Each game has incredible new lighting effects that weren't possible back in the 90s. Better than that, Crash's enemies all have new life to them. For example, where turtles would simply hide in their shells once hit by Crash, they now leave their heads out and show agonizing facial expressions. All-in-all enemies are so much more lively that it ramps up the entertainment value tenfold. Other additions like the ability to play as Coco throughout all levels is a major treat, especially given her own skill set.
N. Sane-ly Difficult
Here's where Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy might run into some resistance - not from me, of course, but still. What people forget about the Crash Bandicoot games is that they got easier with each new release. So people will jump into the first game, perhaps having never played a single level in the series only to get their faces stomped in by everything they run into, and unless you're willing to sacrifice your dignity by exploiting particular design flaws that have persisted from the original game, you'll probably go from excited to frustrated faster than you can say Aku Aku.
In truth, I would be remiss if I didn't see room for improvement in that regard. For instance, particular levels require you to jump on very small platforms, but if you jump just on the ledge of any of them, the game apparently doesn't know where to put you, so it will just force you off. It seems like these particular issues should have been caught in testing and addressed at very least.
That said, it's much more likely that you'll die in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy in any one of the other million ways you can die that include, falling off (legitimately), hitting a spike, hitting a bomb, getting eaten by bats or sharks or lions or dinosaurs, or, if you fancy, flattened by a bolder - all within just one game. It's likely that anyone who complains about the smaller quirks, like the one outlined above, is just using them as a crutch. "It's not my fault I died - it's the game's." And look, I get it. Nothing can tilt me more than falling off because Crash just clipped the ledge and the game decided that wasn't enough, but the next ten times I died were all on me, and that's important to remember.
Vicarious Visions even admits this much in the game's promotional material released to reviewers, writing "Looking back, Crash's first adventure was his most difficult! His adventures became easier as he grew in power and confidence." If you've never picked up a Crash Bandicoot game before, start with Crash Bandicoot Warped! and work your way back to the original. This will make it feel like one big game culminating in some of the hardest platforming levels you will ever play. If you've played Crash before, go nuts!
It's hard to know where to stop when talking about Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Its visuals are dynamite, the rebuilt cutscenes stoke excitement in any Crash fan, the music is higher-quality than ever, and the little alterations Vicarious Visions made make a huge difference.
While many people may dock it for its difficulty, and I won't ignore the still-present quirks that can make it feel that way, this is ultimately small potatoes in a very large field. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy has something for everyone, whether it be the more fun-oriented levels of Warped! or the kick-your-teeth-in difficulty of the original, and Crash Bandicoot fans and newcomers alike will have new memories to call their own. But again, perhaps newbies should play them backwards.
James Kozanitis is the Features Editor of GameRevolution. You can follow him on Twitter @JamKozy.
A PS4 copy of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was provided by its publisher. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is exclusive to PS4.