Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Nintendo Switch Review
Crash is “back”, a year later, but this time on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One Consoles and Windows PC for everyone who had FOMO in 2017 to finally enjoy!
On 1 June 2017, we dropped our Original Review of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for PlayStation 4, scoring it at 8.6! With the title now being available cross platform, we took a crash at it on the Nintendo Switch Console, and as you can see below, it actually scored a little more points! To see where and why, read on fellow “Bandicootian”.
When I first heard that the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy had been announced and chatted about it on TV, you could see the excitement not just on my face, but on the faces of the TV Presenters as well! We joked about coming home from school and spending countless hours in front of our PlayStations, smashing our controllers and hunting down every box we could find on the Isle of Wumpa. I said it before, but the thing that makes Crash Bandicoot so ridiculously cool, ridiculous and cool (purposeful alliteration), is the challenge that is found within its simplicity. The goal is obvious. The difficulty is diverse. The strategy is non-existent, but most importantly, the game at its crazy core, is silly fun!
Who Is Crash Again? …In A Nutshell.
For those that do not know much or anything at all about Crash, The Legendary Bandicoot, the Original Crash Bandicoot came out exclusively for PlayStation in 1996. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped were released in 1997 and 1998 respectively. This Trilogy plays out the story about a bandicoot, that through an experimental lab failure, became the iconic lead and hero for generations to come. Notably, the trilogy needs to be played in release order to follow the very basic, yet entertaining story of Crash, his sister Coco and their Tribal Guide Aku-Aku (The floating mask guy) who have a love-hate relationship with Dr. Neo Cortex, the primary antagonist in each game, who is ultimately the “Mask” of a much larger threat that is revealed later in your progression through the series (If you know who it is, then this statement was pun-fully placed just for your giggles).
The core aim of the game is to locate and destroy all the boxes on each stage. You break these boxes by either spinning, sliding or bouncing on them. There are different types of boxes, some containing either a single or multiple Wumpa Fruit, an Extra Life Token or Bonus Stage Token, and if you are smart, at certain points you will notice that you need the help of some sneaky-placed boxes to bounce on and reach higher objectives. Dangerous boxes that are not to be spun into are TNT Boxes which trigger a 3 second timer once bounced on and lastly you get green Nitro Boxes that you need to stay clear from, as they simply explode on contact, taking away a mask shield or killing you! As an added motivator, you get rewarded with a Clear Gem and sometimes a different colored gem if you are able to find and break every box within a stage. It might sound easy, but stages consist of the main Obstacle Course, Bonus Stage and some have what is termed the Death Route that you can only access by collecting tokens from inside random boxes or said Different Colored Gems that unlock previously inactive platforms.
This gives players a choice on how they want to play the game essentially, but also encourages players to become a Compulsive Box Breaker or Stage Explorer.
Players can choose to complete each of the three games in two ways; The Fast Way, where you follow the story development only by breezing through each stage not focussing on collection, which will not take you very long at all (but you will miss out on the “real” fun) or the Really Devoted Way, where you attempt to collect every Crystal and Gem in each stage, which will unlock an Alternate Ending or Challenge to each game through collecting Artifacts.
Let me be honest. This is where my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder developed its existence and is something that has ghosted itself onto every game I have ever played since 1996 (thanks a lot Crash).
Additionally, after completing a stage, you unlock the Time Trial Mode, where you replay a stage racing against the clock to earn either a Gold, Silver or Bronze Ankh (Relic) dependent on how quickly you get through the stage. In this mode, certain boxes within the stage are replaced with Yellow Time Freezing Boxes that if broken, freeze the time counter for a specific amount of seconds. I found the trick here is to try and spin enemies that are in the your path into the yellow boxes instead of running toward the boxes to break them individually. With our chosen platform online status, our time trial times are now compared on a global and friend-list leaderboard, which is something we could not do back in 1996, now allowing us to see who the better Crash is! Bragging rights anyone?
So What Is Different?
In last years review of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for PlayStation 4 I mentioned that I grew up playing the original trilogy and that the Story, the Animations, the Bosses, the Stage Layouts, the Pre-Stage Arenas and Challenges are all the same as their 90’s originals, but playing the Remasters was like experiencing Crash Bandicoot for the first time. The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is still as frustrating as the Classic Crash, where mistakes are exceptionally easy to make and where repeating certain sections of a stage are required because your reflexes are not on point. Often times you need to very quickly memorize a “left, left, right, left” dodge sequence while rampaging through a village on a runaway hog or rushing over the “Great Wall” on the back of a tiger, pushing your hand-eye coordination to the limit.
In 2017, fans and players “complained” about how difficult the Remaster was when compared to the originals. The answer to why this was so, was due to the pixel render of your “hitbox” on Crash, Coco or the rideable characters. Originally, your hitbox was a square, but with the remasters, you now have a pearl-shaped hitbox, which is why in last year’s livestream of me playing the first few stages, you could see how much I sucked! (It was deleted, due to my shame). Picture it like this: A Chessboard, where your pieces had square bases on them, the same size as the white and black zones. If you land with just a small section of your piece on the edge of a white or black zone, you would not fall off. With the pearl-shape hitbox, if you land on an edge, naturally you are going to slip off. I found that the controls on the Nintendo Switch are much easier to handle and I die a lot less than I do on my PlayStation 4 version. Is it a mental thing? Could it be because I feel like I have more control over Crash because he is in my hands instead of seperate from me on a TV or PC screen, or have the guys just done a great job with the control mapping on the Nintendo Switch. I think it is a bit of both.
I am going to quote the graphic section from our original review: “The classic textures have been magnificently improved upon, and all three remastered games share the same HD texture pool, as where the original trilogy obviously had separate texture packs for each release. If you are a PlayStation 4 Pro owner, then you get to play the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy in glorious fur-k (4K), and it really is magnificent! Seeing Papu Papu wobble while swinging around his Giant Club or the Particle Effects blowing from N. Gin’s flames, breathed new life into how I remember these characters looking when I was younger. The Classic Sound Effects and Original Crash Bandicoot Theme Song have all been left neatly intact, but the Stage OSTs have been resampled beautifully! I say resampled, because they are exactly the same as I remember them being in their arrangement, but just sound a lot more modern. I could not hide my cheesy grin while running through the “Snow Go!” stage, or muffle my childish giggles while running through the “Medieval Madness” stage, because everything just looks and sounds so darn good!” – End Quote
That applies to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows PC versions as well. Particularly where I have been inseparable from my Nintendo Switch since receiving my review copy, I am playing Crash Bandicoot wherever I go in Handheld Mode! (Even at work in Tabletop Mode to hide the JoyCons under my desk….shhhhhh!) The best is getting home, and popping the Nintendo Switch onto it’s Dock and seeing the stunning graphics go full-screen on my projector (as mentioned in our original review intro) and me being able to carry on from where I left off. Later, I can easily undock my Nintendo Switch and carry on playing while laying in bed. Too much? Heck no! This is what I never knew I needed in my life! Crash Bandicoot all-up-in-my-face!
The Honey and Hatchet
I do however need to stay true to the CodeBro Creed and be totally transparent with you on my experience with the different Switch Modes. In the Nintendo Switch Mobile Modes (Handheld and Desktop) the game renders frames fantastically, with little to no frames being dropped at all or control latency, but when you dock the Nintendo Switch to play on your TV, the resolution drops instantly to 720p. Not only does this affect the visual quality of the game, but the Nintendo Switch tends to get real hot, real quick and that is when I experienced intermittent frames being dropped and short intervals of control lag. In essence, I have not been playing it docked much, because at first I thought it was perhaps my Nintendo Switch, but I then googled remedies for frame rate issues or JoyCon interference, only to see that it was a problem most players on the Nintendo Switch have been experiencing. I am hoping that this is just a simple fix on the pixel render rate through an update or patch, as it feels like a bottleneck of graphic goodness gets stuck and then gets blown out the pipes before resuming normal frame rates.
Granted, this is something that you can expect from a game that is so slick. The textures are so sexy on the Nintendo Switch. Something that came bundled with the 29 June launch, was the inclusion of two brand new, never before seen stages! Stormy Ascent (Crash Bandicoot) and Future Tense (Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped). You get to see the graphic intensity right away in Stormy Ascent, as you climb the slippery walls of the Cortex Tower, with water droplets running down your screen and lightning striking in the background lighting up the detailed cracks in the walls. I just stood still watching the atmospherics for a while before playing the stage, it is a masterpiece, but puts some strain on the Switch’s rendering capabilities at present. Both of these new stages are playable after you complete the starting sequences of each respective game, but are not 100% completable (breaking each box) without finding those rare colored gems later in the game.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, launched 29 June 2018 for the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One Consoles, as well as Windows PC, was “re-developed” by Vicarious Visions (Originally done by Naughty Dog) and published by Activision. At the time of this review, the price for the digital PC version through BT Games is R555.00 and a physical copy for your consoles can also be picked up from BT Games for R555.00 on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, which is cheaper than the PlayStation 4 Exclusive Launch price last year. It is fantastic that fans of the franchise can now enjoy Crash on the platform of their choice, and bias me, I will be honest, I absolutely love my Nintendo Switch, and being able to play Crash Bandicoot on-the-go, is a real treat, especially at the current retail price. Wumpa waiting for? Go get your copy now!