Sony's promising mascot platformer debuted over two decades ago and now he's finally back to delight (and frustrate) new audiences. Containing three visually revamped games, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is surely a collection that gamers shouldn't overlook.
I remember buying an original PlayStation back when Final Fantasy VII debuted then discovering the addictive platforming of Crash Bandicoot via a demo disc that was packaged with the console. Before then, platforming was all about running to the right but this newfangled 3D approach was something different. My friends had Super Mario 64 which was a far less structured and a completely different beast altogether but there was something about Crash that kept me hooked. Now that the first three of his adventures are bundled together with an incredible graphical overhaul, it's definitely an interesting experience to replay these journeys so many years later. One of the first things that I noticed is just how difficult these games are. Clearly, my gaming skills were far better twenty years ago because I remember mastering all three of these suckers back then without much problem. However, this level of challenge is undeniably satisfying and makes this collection all the more worthwhile.
As I've touched upon, the graphics in this trilogy are a huge step up from the originals. Simply as a PlayStation 4 game, it's impressive to witness the amount of detail put into the environments, animations, and characters. Whereas modern gamers may find the originals to be blocky and lack texture, most would find the upgraded graphics here to be surprisingly high quality. The music is as catchy as ever with plenty of jungle rhythms and wacky tunes that'll keep your toes tapping. In fact, the music is so catchy that I remember most of the tracks clearly from my childhood. Overall, the sights and sounds of Crash remain at the top of their game even in this day and age.
One aspect that makes the original Crash Bandicoot games as enjoyable as they are is the amount of variety within the many stages. The classic level setup where you run into the screen while jumping on the odd enemy's head and collecting wumpa fruit as well as the occasional Aku Aku mask and extra life is as enjoyable as ever. Of course, you'll also sometimes have to run towards the screen away from a boulder. Other stages may have you do some retro 2D platforming, swim underwater, fly a plane as Crash's sister Coco, and ride a motorcycle, bear, or tiger. On top of this, there are loads of challenging boss fights to master. This amount of variety remains one of this collection's best attributes yet it also contains a few additional surprises. For example, you can decide to play as Coco in the original Crash Bandicoot game even though she wasn't introduced until Crash Bandicoot 2. Also, the save system in the original has been improved so you can save your progress between stages. It's great to see more improvements than just visual ones.
It goes without saying but these Crash games contain their fair share of retro baggage. As I've mentioned, the difficulty can be quite high and with my years of experience reviewing games, I can now see that it's actually problematic for a few reasons. First, many sections rely almost primarily on memorizing patterns. This is okay if done sparingly but when you have to remember when to time a dozen or so jumps between checkpoints, it can be more annoying than rewarding. There's also an element of trial and error. Beating a boss or mastering a race stage will likely require many attempts seeing as overcoming these types of challenges aren't often intuitive. My final complaint is that I can't stand being forced to replay portions of a game in order to complete it entirely. Therefore, systems such as collecting coloured gems to unlock paths within the stages are not only needlessly convoluted; they also involve too much repetition.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a phenomenal collection of games with incredible updated visuals and a few cool extras. It may have some retro baggage but there's no denying just how classic Crash's first three adventures are.
- + Includes three challenging classic platformers in one comprehensive package
- + Fantastic upgraded visuals
- + Some nifty additional features
- - Difficulty often relies on memorization of patterns and trial and error
- - Being forced to replay stages to collect everything can be a drag