The first 3 Crash Bandicoot games have been remastered for the PlayStation 4. Find out if these games held up over time in our Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review!
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was my first video game for PlayStation. I had a Sega Genesis before my PlayStation, but PS1 is where I really became a gamer. I spent hours playing that game and Crash became one of my favourite video game characters. I ended renting Crash: Warped a few times when it came out and that pretty much ended my Crash journey for years (besides a quick play of Crash Bandicoot as a PS1 classic on PS3). None of the new versions of the games interested me and weren’t well-received so I didn’t really bother with them. Now, Crash is back and fully remastered by Vicarious Visions. Let’s see how these games hold up today!
Remasters are a touchy subject for many people. It’s a difficult thing for a developer to remaster a beloved game to the high expectations of a rabid fanbase. I can happily say that Vicarious Visions not only met my expectations, but they exceeded them. They took the Crash Bandicoot I knew and loved and completely rebuilt everything from the ground up without sacrificing any of the charm of the original games.
The biggest difference between the N. Sane Trilogy and the original games are the drastic overhaul of the visuals. Crash is as detailed as he’s ever been and his quirky personality is so much easier to read with the HD upgrade. The whole thing looks like a polished cartoon and every object and setting looks vibrant and full of character. I’ll also say that the enemy designs have been improved slightly to give you a better understanding of what will kill you and what won’t. It takes away a bit of the frustration I had with the originals (I’m looking at you spiked lizard!). The great shadows have also helped me with some of the tricky platforming by seeing where Crash’s shadow is to know where I’m about to land. It sounds like an insignificant thing, but it’s saved me an immense amount of frustration.
The audio has also been remastered. While some of the tracks are not the exact same, this soundtrack captures the atmosphere perfectly and brings me back to my childhood playing these games. While the music itself is wonderful, the subtle touches of change in elements when Crash’s switches from concrete to mud or splashes in the water make it stand out even more. Vicarious Visions really tried to nail every little aspect that they could to bring this series into the HD era and they did a tremendous job aesthetically.
Ok, we’ve talked about the general details, but what about the games themselves? Let’s start with the original game, Crash Bandicoot. I really believe that this game is the worst of the bunch and I’m glad I didn’t start with this one all those years ago or I might not have enjoyed the series as much. I also consider this game the most difficult of the three, but I actually enjoyed that part. It’s a good platformer, but it’s fairly repetitive and Crash’s limited move-set doesn’t do anything to help that issue. The developer did a great job adding the auto-save feature (to all the games) as well as a box counter and time trials.
If you’re new to the series, I’d definitely start with Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. This is the game that introduced me to Crash and it’s still the best of the bunch today. The platforming is much more refined in the second game while still retaining a good difficulty level. There are also secret levels and death routes that add a bit more to the core experience as well as extra gems for the completionist in you. It’s still one of my all-time favourite games.
Warped rounds out the trilogy and comes in somewhere in the middle. It’s nowhere near as difficult as the other two games and it’s relatively short if you’re just collecting the purple crystals (I completed it in about 4-5 hours). There are a lot more gimmicky levels like riding a motorcycle, a jet ski, and flying a plane. I didn’t like those levels as much as I did originally because they’re not really that great. Most of them are more annoying and difficult than fun and they just don’t fit the series as well. The extra abilities also water down the action quite a bit. When I have a Wumpa Launcher and Double Jump, I don’t have to be nearly as careful going through the game.
All 3 games are worth playing and hold up pretty well today. It’s interesting to see how my opinions have changed over the years. Warped used to be my favourite, but Cortex Strikes Back has definitely taken that crown now. Vicarious Visions did a good job simply enhancing what was already there and not trying to change everything that people might not have liked. They even included new hints on loading screens for people new to the games. Some have helped me quite a bit so it was nice to see those. The time trials were a great addition to the first few games and help the series feel a bit more streamlined than it was before. Coco was another great addition to be able to play as, but she plays identically to Crash other than a few animation swaps. You’re really not getting anything different, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a fantastic package for fans of the series and for people who have never played it before. It’s more difficult than you probably remember, but there’s something so refreshing about that. Vicarious Visions did as great a job as anyone could have done to bring this trilogy back for today’s audience in a way that stays true to the originals while adding a few nice tweaks here and there to make the experience more enjoyable. At $39.99 USD/ $54.99 CAD, there’s no excuse not to get this game. Grab it now, you won’t be sorry!