Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review
Crash Bandicoot defined the PlayStation Gaming Console as we know it Today.
Yes, I just made a very bold statement, but my claim is validly substantiated by Crash Bandicoot being THE Title that made me buy myself a PlayStation Console back in 1996. Similarly, this year, again, Crash Bandicoot made me spend money to enjoy it the way it was meant to be experienced. I needed an HD Projector to fill my lounge wall with N. Sanity, filling my face with nostalgia! This Bandicoot may not have these influential powers over you, but he should have them, because he has epic 90’s swag that will erode away at the defenses of your hardcore FPS and RPG coating to expose your soft and chewy arcade center!
In December 2016, when I first heard that the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy had been announced, I felt like my 10 year old self again, coming home from school and spending countless hours infront of the TV, mashing the directional buttons of my controller and smashing every box I could find on the Isle of Wumpa. 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!
What’s the Big Deal?
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 you).
The point to each stage is simple. Break as many boxes as you can by either spinning, sliding or bouncing on them! There are different types of boxes, some contain a single or multiple Wumpa Fruit, an extra life token or can be bounced on to reach the higher objectives. You also get 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 fatally explode on contact! As an added motivator, you get rewarded with a Clear 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” and certain stages have bonus areas that you can only access by collecting tokens from inside random boxes (in the first game) or by earning different Colored Gems that activate location platforms to take you to Secret Pathways or Zones that also have boxes placed throughout.
This gives players a choice in how they want to play, 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, or the 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. Let me be honest. This is where my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder developed it’s 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 the network capabilities that our PlayStation 4 Consoles have, our time trial times are now compared on a global and friend-list leaderboard, which is something we could not do back in 1996, allowing us to see who the better Crash is!
Is Anything Different?
As I write this, it is the day after the global launch. I have spent quite a few hours playing the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and even though I grew up playing the original trilogy and could easily skip to any point in the Remastered Release, I found myself not wanting to.
The story, the animations, the bosses, the stage layouts, the pre-stage arenas and the challenges are all the same as the originals, but yet it felt like I was 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, because the stages mounted “pet vehicle” stages are designed to push your hand-eye co-ordination to the max.
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!
Worth mentioning is that you are also able to play as Coco now, by warping her in through “Coco’s Time Machine” which you can access after beating Papu Papu! Coco comes with her own special abilities like a leg slam or a devastating hurricane spin!
I normally love watching my friends-list on launch days to see who is playing “what”, and for the first time in a long time, the majority of my “Now Playing” screen was filled with the same title, in this case, being the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy! It was also not specific to a certain age group, but was dynamic through teens to adults! I would not be surprised if all physical copies of the game in South Africa are already sold out or nearing the sold out stage, and I also doubt that you will find a Pre-Owned copy for purchase anytime soon, so I really hope you pre-ordered a copy if you are a fan of physical copies.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is exclusive to the Sony PlayStation 4 Gaming Console System and 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 version through PSN is R629.00 and a physical copy can be picked up from AWX (Johannesburg) for R590.00, which is a spectacularly affordable price for this trilogy. Quite honestly speaking, if it was on the shelf for more, I would happily spend what it was tagged at, because technically, it is R208 per game, which is very close to the selling price of the classics when they came out. Perhaps the “lower than average” cost is part of a greater strategy? Thank the true fans for their loyalty and reward potential news fans with hours of old-school fun at indie-title prices. I could also just be on my own runaway train, but ultimately, you want to know whether this Remastered Trilogy is worth your valuable time and money, and it is! Without hesitation, it is. Digital copies are great, but for fans wanting to add this to their library, I would encourage you to go grab a physical copy and leave it at the top of your “Games I’m busy Playing” pile.