Review: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

Review: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (23.3 GB)
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I would bet that over the course my life I’ve probably played about as much of the original Crash Bandicoot as the QA testers at Naughty Dog and Vicarious Visions.

We all have those video game experiences that we consistently revisit because they bring us back to a simpler time. Mine is Crash Bandicoot.

I burn through at least that first island on a quarterly basis and I’ve even challenged myself to finish the whole game in one sitting without losing a single life.

I’ve yet to achieve this feat but I have made it two-thirds of the way. Let’s save the real accomplishment for Extra Life.

Like a favorite book or album, Crash Bandicoot is my comfort food and a personal go-to gem of my library.

Needless to say, I was pretty stoked when I learned that the OG PlayStation mascot would be joining the ranks of Parappa, Tomb Raider, FF7, and Ratchet and Clank in the reboot/remake/remaster revival.

I woke up on N. Sanity Beach with cautious optimism, unsure if any studio could recapture that magic. I knew that it looked incredible, but my muscle memory would not be fooled. What’s it going to feel like? Surely the upgrades must come with some disappointing modifications of the original formula, right?

To use a Glenn-ism that I often hear on the show, the answer is “well, yes and no”. But the developers at Vicarious Visions have created a package that even a Crash purist can be fond of.

As a superfan who uses Crash avatars wherever he can, has Crash sound bites all over his phone, a Crash decal on his car, and who’s seriously considered, on more than one occasion, getting an Aku Aku tattoo, I’m seriously impressed with the overall presentation.

Gameplay:
Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped are included in this awesome collection and each game has been treated with the love and care it deserves.

Players familiar with the franchise can expect to enjoy certain modern amenities like autosaves and more forgiving progress tracking but there has been some internet buzz about why the games seem harder than the originals. The devs have confirmed that, especially with the first Crash, a slight change in the jumping arc may present some unexpected difficulties for both newcomers and veterans alike.

In my own experience, I found myself dying much more than I’m used to in the handful of levels with heightened platforming and jumping intensity. It was as though Crash was ill equipped to handle the obstacles before him and the most crucial platforms seemed to have slippery ledges the marsupial simply wouldn’t adhere to. These instances were few and far between and almost completely relegated to the first game so they didn’t do very much detracting from the overall experience.

Right from the beginning of the second game, there is a noticeable upgrade in fluidity partly because the first Crash is janky in its own special way. Your power and capability over the environment return and the added maneuvers allow you to slide and body slam your way out of danger.

Some of the enemies have rather undetectable hitboxes though, adding just a hair more time to the learning curve. Almost every level is playable as Crash or his sister Coco and although there is no difference in gameplay, her unique animations are a contrasting treat to the familiarity.

Even with their differences, the games feel unified in this trilogy because of the single look, shared assets, and common loading screens. Between breaking every box, collecting each gem, beating all the time trials, and getting three Platinum Trophies, there are reasons to replay and master the 100 plus levels.

While Crash 2 and 3 might better reflect the modern platformer with more intriguing world themes, action packed sequences, and fun vehicles, the inclusion of the original at this level of polish makes for a complete set with little left to be desired.

Visuals:
We live in a very visual world and while gameplay is most certainly king, a pretty trailer is sometimes all we have to go on until games are released. Watching the pre-release videos of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy with side by side comparisons was a marvel in and of itself but learning about the work that went into its creation was baffling.

So much had to be redone from scratch while Vicarious Visions tasked themselves with the meticulous recreation of spin frames, geographic mapping, environmental dimensions, and other minutia.

I’m not a video game developer but I know that all re-releases are not created equal. Some lean more toward the port category while others are focused on visual uprezzing. This collection is in a league of its own with beautifully animated cutscenes, full “Fur K”, and graphical fidelity that rivals today’s most beautiful platformers.

Audio:
Some of the most iconic sounds from Crash culture were unfortunately rerecorded, probably for quality’s sake, but the spirit and humor remain well intact. From the wind cutting spins to the tribal chants, the game’s audio was handled with the same reverence as the other aspects.

Depending on your relationship with the series, the music will either chauffeur a trip down memory lane or provide some entertaining new-to-you tunes as a backdrop for the chaos. In either case, expect some subconscious head nodding and foot tapping.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component aside from accessing the leaderboards from each level’s time trial.

Conclusion:
What is it that we’re looking for in a successful remake of games over two decades old? Are we assessing the degree to which they remain faithful to the originals? Are we concerned with the package-deal nature these collections tend to skew toward? Do we compare the games to modern entries in the same genre? Perhaps we judge the amount of work that we perceive went into creating it. Is it some combination of all these factors?

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy satisfies any and all criteria I can think of pertaining to a remade video game. While the argument can be made that Crash 1 only serves the nostalgic, Crash 2 and 3 look and feel almost indiscernible from a modern platformer while retaining the old school charm.

The developers at Vicarious Visions have honored a franchise near and dear to the hearts of so many PlayStation gamers by giving these three iconic titles the star treatment and a new home on the PS4. The critical and commercial success of this package will hopefully lead to a new Crash game and this team has certainly earned the right to experiment with the source material.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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