- Crash Bandicoot has never looked better or fuzzier in his life
- A loving restoration of a classier platformer series from our childhood
- Levels are still brilliant
- Good value for money
- Control system doesn't feel quite right
- Still devilishly hard, despite modern updates
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Crash Bandicoot last year, Activision has brought us Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy. Available exclusively on PS4, the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy brings you incredible remastered versions of all three of Crash’s excellent original adventures released across PSOne and PS2 back in the late ’90s, early ’00s.
That means the bundle includes the original Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped all remade in maximum 1440p and at 30fps for the PS4 and PS4 Pro. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re totally in love with this good-looking remaster.
Crash is wearing his years well
There’s no doubt that developer Vicarious Visions hasn’t put its heart and soul into making this a faithful remaster of all three original Crash Bandicoot games. Each game has been lovingly remade, with a heck of a lot of detail and attention paid to the source material. With the original source code for all three games pretty much gone, Vicarious had to start from scratch with each title, making the entire process a labour of love for the team. And it absolutely shows.
Whether you’re pelting it away from the infamous boulder in ‘Crash Dash‘, trying to avoid killer whales on the back of the tiny polar bear, Polar, in ‘Bear It‘, or even jumping over bombs on a jetski in ‘Tell No Tales‘, the games all look fantastic. Every element of the game has been addressed, from making the boxes all look more realistic to ensuring that the Wumpa Fruit look good enough to eat.
Each level is as fantastically colourful as you remember, with the vivid tones better than ever but simultaneously taking you back to those PSOne days and how ahead of the curve they looked back then.
Even the characters manage to ooze more charm than ever – and this is from someone who actually had a Crash crush at the tender age of eight. Crash and Coco are furrier than ever, making you want to ruffle their fuzz rather than send them into bottomless pits or allow them to be chased by huge dinosaurs or boulders. And don’t even get us started on Polar and Pura, the dinky little tiger cub that comes along in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. They’re utterly adorable.
But more importantly, they sound great too. All the voiceovers, sound effects and other noises had to be rerecorded for the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane trilogy, which for the fans seemed like a risky move. But in reality, it’s as close to the original as you’d hope. Hearing Aku Aku shout “Oobelaga” when you pick him (yes, that’s our interpretation and we’re sticking with it) and the almost lipsmack sound of the Whumpa Fruit, and all those other Crash noises are just perfect.
Playing through all three games, it’s amazing how they still look and sound like they did back in the days of the PSOne. The games have an incredibly passionate, almost obsessive fanbase, who would have noticed if any hair, fruit or box had been out of place, so it’s a credit to the Vicarious team that it looks and sounds so good, whilst not losing any of the games’ original charm.
But there’s something laboured about his movements
But there’s no getting away from the fact that they don’t quite feel the same. When the original Crash Bandicoot was released in 1996 on the original PlayStation, it arrived at a time before analog sticks. You could only move Crash using the D-Pad, which made fine adjustments between leaps and platforms pretty much impossible. Because of that, Crash Bandicoot and its sequels were always regarded as some of the most difficult platformers.
You can play through the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane trilogy using the D-Pad or the analog stick, but what we ended up doing was regularly switching between the two because neither felt quite right. Having played the original two games again on PS2 recently, I can safely say it’s not just me being rubbish after all these years. There’s something definitely janky about the control scheme, with the movement being overly laboured and the game generally incredibly fussy about landings and other placement, much more so than the original trilogy.
It’s still as tricky as it always was, but it just feels like there’s something making it frustrating in a way these games never were before.
And it’s also strange that this is the case because Vicarious Visions has taken steps to make the games more accessible for new players. Not only are there handy hints and tips on the loading screens suggesting ways to find hidden areas, other gems or generally not die so much, but the team has added in dynamic difficulty adjustments. That means little tweaks if you’re struggling, such as giving you a helpful Aku Aku mask when you’ve died several times in quick succession, just to give you a helping hand.
There are a few added extras too, like you can play as Crash’s sister Coco Bandicoot for every level if you want to, as long as you’ve collected the gem for that level. It’s not made explicitly clear in the game itself that you can do that, but it is possible. And Vicarious has does a great job making sure Coco feels like she has her own skillset, even if it is the same as Crash’s with the jumps, belly slams and spins.
Is the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy good?
The Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy looks and sounds as good as we’d hoped, with glorious attention to detail, fantastic remastered graphics and sound effects that don’t lose anything from being rerecorded for this revamped trilogy. But the actual gameplay often lets it down, making it frustrating in a bad way. The feeling of accomplishment is still there when you emerge triumphant with gem in hand is still there, but there’s a big problem when the journey to get there isn’t as enjoyable.
The Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is out June 30 exclusively on PS4.