Crash is back with a bang! You know, the kind of bang that happens when a TNT crate goes off near a handful of Nitro crates.
N. SANE IN THE MEMBRANE
One of gaming’s biggest mascots from the mid-90s is back and better than ever. Last year at Sony’s E3 press briefing, one of the most memorable announcements was the news that Crash Bandicoot would be coming to Playstation 4, built from the ground up. Whether you played the original titles in this collection or you’re a first timer who is newly introduced to the series, I am pleased to report that Vicarious Visions’ reboot of Naughty Dog’s classic Playstation One originals is a high quality adventure through and through.
NOSTALGIA: OLD IS NEW AGAIN
So what’s new about the games? Really, everything. Though this is a faithful recreation of the first three games in Crash’s nearly two decade run, Vicarious Visions completely rebuilt each entry. The collection includes Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. I never played the original Crash and I played bits of 2, but 3 was a huge part of my childhood. Upon playing the game for the first time at E3 this past June, I immediately returned to my childhood bedroom in which I played hours upon hours of what was arguably Crash’s greatest adventure. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about the N. Sane Trilogy for the entire week.
Each cutscene is recreated to match the original, but with updated High Definition graphics that are beautifully rendered in full 1080. Let me tell you, the Playstation 4 shows off the modern Bandicoot in gorgeous fashion, with crisp textures and eye-popping colors. I found little-to-no issues during my time in the game, with the very occasional popping taking place at a slight draw distance. Crash himself is a sight to see, with fur that rustles in the wind and a bit of an overall new look. The environments are also downright pretty, with water and ice behaving exactly as they would in real life. You can even see Crash’s breath in the cold. This game shouldn’t be this good looking.
The audio is remastered and more clear than ever. Hearing the voices of the original cast and crew, but at a high output level, match the fidelity of the visuals and totally immersed me into whichever level I was playing. Don’t get me started on the music – okay, okay, I’ll talk about it! The classic themes from the original games are present in the N. Sane Trilogy, and they’re some of the catchiest tunes you hear in gaming. It’s nice that they hold up 20 years later, too.
When you boot up the game for the first time, you’ll find a rather aesthetically pleasing menu that shows off all 3 games. When you switch from game to game, that game’s respective theme song will play. You can jump into any of the 3 right off the bat, which gives a nice option for those that purchased the game favoring one over the others. Want to be a completionist and play the games chronologically? Fine. Want to jump into Crash 3 first? Be my guest. My first level with Warped had to be level 3, which takes you as Coco Bandicoot on a ride on the Great Wall of China. Fellow Geekiverse writers Jamie LeRoy & Amanda Woomer-Limpert played this level with me on repeat for hours back in 1998 when the game originally dropped. Speaking of Coco – you can now play any level as the lovable, adorable sister of Crash. In the original games, Coco only appeared in some levels and those were the ones you were restricted to.
Side Note: did you know that Vicarious Visions employees received a special edition version of the game? It was packed in a Playstation One case.
I’m not sure if the games are more difficult than I remember, or if Vicarious Visions truly amped up the level a touch, or if we are just handheld with tutorials and easy degrees of difficulty these days. The fact of the matter is, the N. Sane Trilogy can be challenging in spots. 3 is the easiest or most user-friendly of the bunch, but I also believe it to be the most polished and well rounded, the best Crash game of all time. Crash 2 feels like the average of the other two games, with the original absolutely being the most difficult. Between the three games, there’s a daunting 82 levels to tackle.
Side note: I always remember going to Blockbuster back in the day and seeing the original Crash Bandicoot in the bargain bin for $9.99. I don’t know why I never pulled the trigger. Funny thing to remember though.
The original game’s difficulty could stem from its bare bones controls. There’s no double jump after a certain level, nor is there a tornado-spin that helps you to take down enemies faster. You can move, jump, and spin. That’s it. The setting is predominately jungle-themed, but the variation in level design is actually pretty solid. In Crash 2, you are able to acquire different means of taking down enemies and reaching higher platforms thanks to slide and jump combos (I didn’t know about those when I played the original Crash 2). The environments are more exciting, but end up repeating themselves in each Warp Room. Much like in Crash 1, the boss levels are short and rather insignificant. I loved playing an ice level for the first time, or hanging from the grates in the ceiling when I was making my way through a giant pipe.
Crash 3 takes the cake and was the most fun for me from beginning to end. Though environments do repeat, the varied levels take you from swamp lands, to the orient, to ice, to fire, to the sky, and even to the future. You’ll also ride a Dinosaur, a Tiger, a Jet Ski, and even fly a plane (the Bandicoots are a very skilled bunch). The boss fights are more tactical than the other games and take full advantage of the environment they’re in.
**Updated Side Note: Developer Vicarious Visions recently confirmed that this remaster is more difficult than the original version of each game. Check out this write-up from Games Radar.
The premise of each game is to collect the crystals from each level. Crash Bandicoot features 32 levels, while the other two contain 25 each. Once you’re done collecting the crystals, you can go back and attempt to smash every box from that level, which results in a silver gem. In Crash 3, you can also run through Time Trial Mode, which lets you try to speed run through a level in an effort to claim the fastest time (speed running? See how far ahead of its time Crash was?!). For each top 3 finish, you can list your name, which is fun if you’re playing with a bunch of friends. Sadly, there’s no online connectivity that lets you compare with your friends. Lastly, PS4 Trophy support was added, which gives gamers like even more incentive to go back and play the game again and again.
Vicarious Visions has managed to bring back one of my favorite games ever, and not only that, but make it relevant again. The N. Sane Trilogy is one of the best values you’ll find in gaming and though it isn’t perfect, will serve as some of the greatest that the platforming genre has to offer. A few years ago when I reviewed Halo: The Master Chief Collection, I mentioned that it would likely stay on my Xbox One hard drive for years to come. I get that same feeling with the N. Sane Trilogy and my PS4 and hopefully, it leads to either a brand new Crash game or a remade Crash Team Racing. Boo-yah Grandma, boo-yah.
+ These are the 3 best Crash Bandicoot games in existence.
+ Gorgeous and colorful.
+ Sound design is stunningly clear.
+ Customization options in playing as Coco or any of the 3 games right from the start.
– Difficulty level feels higher than it used to, particularly in Crash 1.
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s Founder and overall well-rounded gamer. He was giddy while playing the N. Sane Trilogy and has his fingers crossed for a PS4 CTR or Brash Bash.
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy is available for Playstation 4.
Header picture courtesy of Sony.
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