by Alessandro Di Fraio
1996 was the year of the bandicoot for many. Sony had finally found a mascotte to compete with Nintendo’s very own Mario and it came in the form of an orange marsupial.
Developed by Naughty Dog, “Crash Bandicoot” is one of the most successful franchises of all times and for good reasons: an incredible presentation, clever level design and ingenious use of lighting and polygons crowned it as one of the most well-crafted games of all times. To this day, after a couple of failed attempts to resume the IP, “Crash Bandicoot” and its sequels are remembered with nostalgia, as a distant memory long gone with the original Playstation. Until the 30th of June 2017 at least, when the entire trilogy has been remade, exclusively on Playstation 4, for an all new audience!
The game has been published by Activision and developed by Vicarious Visions, a company mostly known for developing games for Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS, although they had already worked on a fairly decent Crash title for Playstation 2 back in 2003 (“Crash Nitro Cart”).
“Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy” follows the same plot of the original three games, with our favourite marsupial jumping his way through the elaborate traps of the evil genius N. Cortex, a scientist who aims to conquer the world with his army of anthropomorphic animals. It’s included in one single disc “Crash Bandicoot”, “Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back” and “Crash Bandicoot: Warped”.
From the very first screen, the game’s presentation is extremely colourful and vibrant, with a distinct cartoony look. Although the game has good-looking graphics and models the lighting looks slightly off compared to the rest of the visuals, this little detail is not particularly distracting, except for some specific cases in which some items tend to blend with the background as the light colour and saturation modify the gradient of some objects. As a whole, the game faithfully captures the atmosphere and mood of the original, thanks also to the amazingly rearranged soundtrack, setting the ground for a smashing return and presenting the same gameplay scheme of the original trilogy.
One problem that the classic version had, back in the nineties, was its clunky and, generally speaking, terrible controls. This aspect of the game has been properly fixed and it now resembles much more “Cortex Strikes Back” and “Warped”, giving to the new trilogy more consistent and smooth controls throughout the entire experience. Nonetheless, the level of design stays the same:
All levels had been remade with methodical precision; enemy patterns and obstacles had been carefully studied and placed; nothing seems out-of-place. However, this aspect of the game could have been tweaked with more thought for the time trials, especially in the first two games, where the levels were not designed to be rushed but required precise planning (some small modifications of the enemy cycles would have been much appreciated). This could lead to some frustration while trying to achieve the 100% completion and the fact that Crash’s movements feel slightly different from the original, with the inclusion of some serious game breaking glitches, don’t help in making this experience much more enjoyable. Glitches are, in fact, the elephant in the room here. Although they don’t occur often, when they do they could be incredibly annoying. Sometimes invisible walls appear from nowhere, sometimes the entire level just stops working and enemies disappear. Most of these glitches tend to occur during the time trial sections, when you’re most focused and drugged into the game and this fact alone could be extremely penalizing.
As mentioned before N’Sane trilogy brings some new cards to the table, most notably the ability to switch characters between Crash and Coco (Crash’s sister) at will and a free dlc called “Lost Treasures” that, at the moment, only comprehend “Stormy Ascent”, an additional level that was scrapped from the original game, considered by many one of the hardest levels of the platformer genre. It would be safe to assume more levels will be added in the near future due to the plural form used in the name “Lost Treasures”, although nothing has been officially revealed to this day. Despite that Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy is a fun and energetic collection comprehending three really solid games at a really low price. Does it stand out from the original?
Not quite. But the fact that it doesn’t want to be just a remake of the classic but tries to have its own identity, with improved visuals, great new soundtrack and constant additions makes it worth picking up, even just for the sake of seeing an old dear friend after all this time.
Video courtesy of: PlayStation