If you were brought up in the 90s like myself, you've probably been waiting for this for a long time. With the like of Mario and Sonic still at large in the middle of that decade, Sony too were looking for an iconic platformer and whilst characters came and went, Crash Bandicoot was the one that stuck out in many peoples minds to the point that he became the mascot for the PS1. Known for his wacky personality and playing the unlikely hero, this marsupial became a massive hit when he was first revealed and has spawned numerous sequels and spin offs over the last 20 years. And now he is back in glorious HD and 4K gameplay with probably the most memorable, first 3 games. Excellent.
So lets dive in, how does this masterpiece look? Well brilliant really is the only answer. Great use of the vibrant colours and scenery that we remember from the original games but still keeping that retro game feel. This for me is the first true remaster I've played; taking an game thats 20 years old and bringing it up to modern standards, not just grabbing a 5 year old PS3 game and saying its been 'Optimised for PS4' (I'm looking at you Modern Warfare...). Every level from Crash 1 through to 3 has had a proper tuning up. Sharper graphics to the levels we've got used to in this age of gaming and sparing no expense on anything; the colours and the shades on everything are pitch perfect to exactly the way I remembered them. Whether you've played these before, it is a good looking game.
And then theres the characters. Again 10/10 for effort here, they all look amazing. Tuned up to look good whilst keeping their personality that made them such a likeable bunch in the first place. Of course Crash is back along with his sister Coco, who is also now playable in almost every level in another great twist added for this game. She now has the same abilities as her brother too so you neither gain or lose an advantage playing as her. The baddies are back too. There's Cortex of course along with his henchmen, including Ripper Roo, N. Brio, Tiny Tiger and, my personal favourite N. Gin. Never knew why I liked N. Gin so much.
Vicarious Visions (VV, because I can't be bothered to type their name everytime) seem to have kept this nice and simple by keeping the characters as close to the original designs as possible, which for me is by far the most effective way of doing it. Crash for example, the orange fluff ball he is. Blue shorts, brown shoes, crazy Crash dance(This was great to see again). Job done. None of this crazy tattoo malarkey on his back or making Tiny look like your pet cat. (Thanks for ruining that Sierra by the way. Top job.....) It's exactly what you'd expect but more importantly, its what you want. When this game was announced I was worried VV would stick to the Crash of the Titans era of character design but alas no, I thankfully was wrong, and we have our great set of characters just as we left them on the PS1.
So the gameplay, and this has been a big talking point. The gameplay mechanics changed quite a bit in the old days of Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot right from the first game up until, at least, Warped. The first Crash Bandicoot is a very basic game. When I say basic I don't mean easy, oh no. I mean it is pretty bog standard, very good but very simple. You jump and you spin to attack to clear levels, thats all. Fast forward to Crash 3 and you can slide, double jump, sprint, even have a bazooka amongst many other abilities. It was a perfect show of game development. So as the first Crash was so basic something had to change. VV decided to take the jumping mechanic from Crash 3 and use it throughout all 3 of their remastered games. This sounds great no? Well yes and no. For first time gamers this levels the playing field, you have to run up to take a jump and can go further with more well timed jumps just as you would do in any modern day platformer. For hardcore fans like myself it has been a bit harder than that. The mechanic in Crash 1 allowed you to jump the same distance from wherever you are be it a standing start or a running start, there was little to no variation. These days to get a longer jump you have to have that run up and extra timing which makes, at least the first game, quite difficult to get the hang of. Heard of people talking about a level called The High Road? This is a perfect example of this new mechanic placed into an old game. There's parts in that level that, back in 1996, you could hold and have a safety jump before going across. In the N Sane Trilogy if you take the safety jump to steady yourself, you wont have the momentum to get across due to the Crash 3 mechanic being used. I hope I haven't lost you there? This being said I always felt that Crash 1 was the hardest Crash game anyway, given that I never went back for gems or anything because the 6 year old me would complain that its 'too hard'. And by golly I was right.
Don't let this distract you from the other ways of playing. It's still the same lovable platformer that we knew, despite a change in the hit makers making it that little bit harder to jump on what you're aiming for. Jump your way across levels collecting gems, crystals and relics whilst spinning and sliding your way past the numerous evil scientists, robots and..... frogs, that want to hinder your progress. It's still your typical old school platform game and with such comes the major challenge; 100% completion. Speed running your way through the story completing 25 or so levels and beating Cortex is satisfying but its only half the picture. If you want achieve greatness in these games, you're going to have to aim for 100% by collecting every other item the games have to offer, and believe me it is immensely satisfying. I wasn't a great gamer when I was a kid, I'll be honest, and I never really took the liberty to go for all these extras. I only completed one of these 3 Crash games to 100% and that was Warped and even then I was in my late teens. But the added element of such a classic game series that I've played a million times being brought back to life and the fact it includes trophies (Man I love getting a trophy) means I'm more willing to go for it. And that's my target, at least 100% in each game. Wish me luck!
In gaming, Crash Bandicoot has always been my man (I'm fully aware he is a Bandicoot and not a man). I can't remember the last time I loaded up a new game and felt so happy to play it. The look, the feel, everything, I felt like I was 6 years old again, a08nd yet it keeps that core part of the originals that we remember so well. There's nothing that seems out of place for me, the characters even sound the same despite the fact most of them have different voice actors these days. The camera angles are dot on, near perfect to what they were. Don't get me wrong there are parts in this trilogy that are insanely difficult, but there always was. I've seen a lot of people mention that this remaster is harder than the original. I disagree. I think there has been no change in difficulty from Crash 1, 2 or 3 just that the jumping has become more difficult to master in the early games. I haven't found any complaints from people saying that Crash 3 is harder than the original, just the first 2, probably attributing to the different jumping methods in the 3 games. It's still a challenge and that thrill of playing through a level and losing 43 lives in order to get a clear gem that looks exactly the same as the other 39 you've collected is still a great feeling. Yes I am talking from experience.
I paid £32 for my copy of the N Sane Trilogy and it is worth every single penny. It's a game that I'd have willingly paid more for as well if the human instinct of saving money didn't kick in. But it is that good. For new players, maybe it's something different to the GTA's or FIFA's that you've been so religiously loyal to these past few years and it's a great addition to your game collection, showing that the classics never die. For fans of the series it's a whole new level of amazing and a must have. I'll give huge credit to VV for remaking these games and to Naughty Dog for letting them, it's everything the old school gamer ever wanted and has been beautifully done. Hats off to you.
What do you think? Is this everything you hoped for? Do you wish something was different? Or did you not like it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, I'll leave the links below. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and hopefully I'll be back soon. Just one last thing, When are they remastering Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash then?
Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy - 9.8/10
PSN - Jaymess24 Twitter - @jaymess24