Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (Playstation 4 Review)
It wasn’t too far back that Crash Bandicoot was considered irredeemable, especially after the series continued to changed hands regularly and an indefinite hiatus was taken after the release of Crash: Mind over Mutant. No one could have imagined Crash Bandicoot being relevant again. However, Sony’s 2016 E3 conference gave fans of the original games exactly what they wanted, an announcement of a remaster of the classic trilogy Crash. In many ways, N. Sane Trilogy is an extremely faithful recreation of those three games to a tee, with Vicarious Visions only changing what sorely need to be fixed. Crash can jump, slide and spin almost exactly like he could in the original trilogy, and of course he performs his signature Crash dance with pure merriment like it’s 1997 all over again.
Crash Bandicoot 1 has received the most adjustments out of the three games, which makes sense considering how dated certain features of the original were. No longer do you have depend on beating the bonus rounds of a level just to actually save your data, as all the games now have an autosave feature. Plus, bonus rounds can be repeated infinitely until you beat them like in the sequels, which is a huge plus especially for the gauntlets that are N. Brio’s and Cortex’s bonus rounds; they were virtually impossible to get right on your first try.
A ‘smashed crates vs total crates’ counter in the HUD is a very welcome addition in Crash 1, and crates that have been destroyed prior to a checkpoint are thankfully now counted if you die after said checkpoint. However, later on that’s actually redundant, as somebody at Vicarious Visions thought it would be a good idea to have clear gems in the later stages only attainable if you smashed all the crates AND not die once. I assume the rationale behind this decision was to still to retain the difficulty of the original Crash game, but rather be an inspiration for a challenge, it just dissuaded me from trying to smash all the crates once I died in a level.
There’s also another issue that needs to discussed here, which is Crash’s control. While for the most part, Crash retains the same feel of twenty years ago, he loses momentum in his jump unnaturally quickly when you let go of the X button. It’s caused me a lot of pitfalls that would rarely happen to me in the original version, and anyone who’s played Crash 1 will know that later stages are often littered with death pits. There’s also some noticeable input delay and funky hit-box detection in some instances, and all these factors can make some of the jumping marathons a living hell. Honestly, during the bridge levels of ‘Road To Nowhere’ and ‘The High Road’, I just walked on top of the side rope; it was much easier than dealing with the actual platforming.
Time trials are also a nice new feature to Crash 1 and Crash 2. However, in the case of the former, they really aren’t interesting to play without the Crash Dash ability or even the slide jump, and they serve little purpose other than bragging rights and 100% completion if you’re going for that. Coco is also playable for the majority of the levels for all three of the remasters, albeit her differences from Crash are purely aesthetic and nothing much else.
There is a noticeable improvement in Crash 2 and even more so in Crash: Warped. Both games are less reliant on death pits as a means of endangerment to Crash, which means the slight alteration to his jump momentum rears its ugly head less frequently. The control of the mountable animals and vehicles has actually been improved, with smoother movement and a new button layout. All the more good news for the former, as this improved control for the various vehicle levels along with the all the great things that Crash: Warped already has makes it a near masterpiece of a platformer on its own.
The most significant update to N. Sane Trilogy is of course the visuals, bursting with colour and excellent animations. Whether it’s Crash’s enemies or himself being on the receiving end of pain, the ‘ouch factor’ from the original games is still all held intact. The facial expressions from the main characters are also a treat to watch; N. Brio’s enhanced ‘Tourettes episodes’ will likely have you laughing from just how funny they look. The voice acting is also highly commendable, most famous among is Lex Lang’s entertainingly whimsical interpretation of Cortex that he’s been doing since Crash: Twinsanity or Maurice LaMaurche’s lovably screwy take on N.Brio. As for the theme remixes, originally composed by Josh Mancell; some of them do take away elements of the originals without adding anything different, but others are still great, and the majority of the boss battle themes are definite improvements.
Assuming that you play the titles in chronological order, N. Sane Trilogy will only get better the more you go into it, and the combined playtime of trilogy confidently justifies its current price tag. It’s a reminder of why Crash was arguably the best at 3D platformers in the Nineties, and the few adjustments needed in these remakes show that the original trilogy have stood the test of time; especially Crash: Warped. Here’s hoping Activision will give the green light for a remake of Crash Team Racing (some online multiplayer for that would be amazing), or even a totally brand new Crash title. If that happens I’m sure many Crash fans (myself included) will celebrate with a good old Crash Dance.