Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review – Vicarious Revisions

It is the law that you must refer to the titular hero of Crash Bandicoot as a marsupial every time you talk about him. I don’t know how or why this terrible law was put into place by Bill Clinton, but he did it and we all have to live with it.

I’m glad I got it out of the way early.

Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Format: PS4
Released: June 30, 2017
Copy purchased

If you had a PlayStation back in the day, chance were high of you encountering Crash Bandicoot in some form or other. It was difficult not to at least have a demo disc with those famous first levels on it, Sony being keen to show just how good those graphics looked – and believe it or not, Crash Bandicoot was a stunner for its time.

Though it formed a big part of the push toward a new era of game design, Naughty Dog’s original mascot platformer was chained to relics that kept it firmly rooted in the past. Its chief problem was a need for precise platforming navigation in an environment that simply was not built for such precision.

With third-person cameras still in their infancy, Crash Bandicoot suffered from depth-perception inadequacies and awkward framing that often confounded a player’s attempts to finagle abrupt ledges.

Nevertheless, it’s hard not to retain a certain fondness for one of the last memorable platforming mascots, and despite the N. Sane Trilogy‘s replication (and slight amplification) of the original frustrations, there’s a nostalgic worth in coming back.

Containing Crash BandicootCrash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Vicarious Vision’s upgraded trip to PlayStation Past is a visually impressive reworking, taking every character and environmental detail to a gorgeous new height that bursts with color and lively animation.

Crash himself, no longer a manic-eyed jumble of jagged pixels, is fully expressive and looks fantastic with his fully rendered fur. Those notorious Temple of Doom levels are terrific with an HD coat of paint, while bosses are brimming with the kind of personality they just couldn’t communicate when bound to such crude polygonal representation.

Additionally, some rerecorded audio gives us consistency across all three games. The antagonistic Dr. Neo Cortex is now voiced across all three games by Lex Lang, who does a solid turn as the cranially impressive villain.

For the most part, gameplay is untouched. From a purist standpoint, this ensures the old Crash you loved feels like it should, though an unfortunate decision to alter the way jumping works based on Warped means the original Crash Bandicoot can actually be tricker to control than he used to be – this is quite an issue considering he already handled awkwardly as an early 3D platform protagonist.

Despite this additional hindrance, Crash Bandicoot is still a considerable amount of fun. Dated, occasionally infuriating fun, but fun nonetheless.

The only other notable addition is the ability to play as Coco in the original two games after dealing with the first boss. She can’t be used in certain stages, such as Hog Wild, but she’s there if you’re sick of jeans and want to see somebody in denim dungarees.

Personally, most of the enjoyment is based in nostalgia and I can’t help but wonder just how much I’d enjoy the game if I were playing it for the first time. It’s not that Crash has aged so poorly as to be unplayable these days – it’s still a highly adequate platformer in a world bereft of them – but I’m not sure my patience would have remained had I not known characters like Ripper Roo were yet to be encountered and I just had to hit those familiar beats.

N. Sane Trilogy, I’ll admit, is a difficult game for me to personally quantify, so aware I am that rose-tinted glasses are responsible for much of my retained fondness, while nevertheless wishing to compliment Vicarious Visions on a largely faithful remaster that genuinely impresses in the visual department.

It’s one of those games where you have to carefully weight the quality of the game itself against the quality of the remastering, and determine which elements deserve the most critical attention. Again, however, I need to reiterate that none of the Crash Bandicoot games are bad, and in fact the trilogy gets mechanically more enjoyable as each game continues, but that may account for the difficulty in my assessment – if the original title was simply terrible, it’d be far easier to write it off.

Ultimately, I can only say I had fun going back to Crash Bandicoot, even if I found myself wanting to toss my controller at certain points and that notorious sky bridge level is still one of the absolute worst pieces of interactive crap you could ever suffer.

Probably just best to go for the safe score, eh?

7/10
Good

Brett-Sonoka Gau
Member

Good to know it’s exactly as good as BotW.

dr7sun
Member

Brace yourself for the irrational Zelda fans… 🙂

Roger Civit
Member

I’ve never been interested in 3d platformers, especially early 3d ones. The Ps1 was technologically challenged for its time and any PC back then, even though the idea of gaming pcs wasn’t a thing, was better than it as long as you had at least a Voodo1. 3d platformers’ camera issues, impossibility of knowing where you’d land due to perspective and the need for pixel perfect jumps – a mechanic inherited from the days of 2d platformers, where it made sense because you knew how much you’d jump in advance – made these games absolutely unplayable for me. If anything,… Read more »

Aroooonnnn
Guest
Aroooonnnn

Not my first time i played back in the day…I used the ropes too hahaha

Foolish
Guest
Foolish

But Yooka Laylee gets 2/10?

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I was playing all of these games for the first time and I quite enjoyed them and didn’t have too many issues with the platforming due to having never played the original games(Those bridge levels are still tough though, but can be skipped over if you use the ropes).

Deus Ecks
Member

I think you mixed up the Coco paragraph and the “despite this additional hindrance” paragraph. Or are you saying being able to play as Coco is a hindrance?

WhackedOffFanboy
Guest
WhackedOffFanboy

WTF? This package is a 6.9/10

Who’s sucking you of for the extra .1 score that has no significance?

ObsidianWarPJs
Member

Excellent score snark aside, would folks recommend this for someone who never played the originals as a kid? Most of my platforming experience is in 2D Mario / Sonic games, though I’m finding I’m really enjoying Super Mario 3D Land.

Tufan Ö.
Guest
Tufan Ö.

Thank you Jim. For giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity to use the word ‘marsupial’ within an actual context.

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

While I wish Crash Bandicoot went up and beyond to reclaim its right as a AAA franchise alongside the likes of Metal Gear and Final Fantasy, I did become doubtful about the original PS1 games themselves living up to modern standards. I’m glad it turned out good for a remaster but that was efforts from Vicarious Visions. Activision deserves no credit because they didn’t want to finance mid-tier platformers and their previous remasters like Protoype 1&2 and CoD4. I hope the game sells well enough for Activision to greenlight remasters of Crash Team Racing and the Spyro trilogy. Those games… Read more »

Jack Philipson
Guest
Jack Philipson

I’ve heard bad things about the jet ski. How did you find it?

Dan Century
Member

I’m glad I’m not the only one frustrated with this game. Replaying it now, after playing it when they first came out, I can’t imagine how the the younger me completed the game without tossing the controller through the non-flat CRT tv screen.

Frustrations aside, I think the success of this remaster should signal to the industry that there is a market for more mascot-driven, fun for most ages, dare I say “delightful” games for the PS4 & XBOX. PS4 & XBOX need more variety.

mjc0961
Guest
mjc0961

“Probably just best to go for the safe score, eh?

7/10”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

(and now I take my leave before the triggered Zelda fans show up)

Ekul
Guest
Ekul

But is it better than Yooka Laylee?

Toby Jones
Guest
Toby Jones

Good review. Feel like they were in a hard place with the control scheme, they couldn’t exactly have 3 separate tutorials for similar games on one disc, and they probably didn’t want to edit the jumps in 1 and 2 to suit it due to fans and their tendency to get mad. Not to say it deserves a complete pass, but I feel they probably did the best they could without it getting complicated or tedious.

The Ginzburg
Guest
The Ginzburg

Yeah the original games definitely had issues to begin with. I’m going to hold off buying this one. Our tolerance today for BS or frustrating design is lower than ever, and rightly so. I honestly think they should’ve been more liberal with the remake and modernized some of its aspects, fixed some of the issues. I’m still disappointed they didn’t go for 60fps too.

I still hope for a Jak 1 remake, or hell, a Jak 4 that goes back to 1s roots. IMO it was NDs best game.

Linda Sofia Hartlén
Guest
Linda Sofia Hartlén

It is proven you can’t argue with a 7 out of 10.

jsc315
Member

The controls feel more than just a bit off to me. I tend to be very picky about bad game controls. And to me the 1st game of this trilogy is almost unplayable for me as it just feels awkward to play and die because of the poor controls. So I hooked up my ps1 and thought maybe I was just remembering this game differently. To my surprise the motion and controls in the 1st game in this remake, seem like it’s not as smooth or fast as it is in the original ps1 game. I’m not sure why they… Read more »

Max
Guest
Max

Meh, I never had a PlayStation growing up so I’m not sure nostalgia would be a factor. Maybe later, good review Jim

Josh G.
Guest
Josh G.

I found the jumping mechanics to be abysmal by modern standards. I was constantly sliding off the edges of platforms even though I landed on them, and having to hold down X to jump higher rather than simply double tapping it to do a double jump was really frustrating.

I feel like the game would have benefited if VV didn’t chain themselves to nostalgia so much and instead worked on updating the gameplay as much as the visuals.

Chris
Member

So this game is exactly the same as Breath of the Wild then.

Austin Barnes
Member

Oh Jim, so cheeky as always.

But I’m glad to hear it wasn’t a bad port, at the very least.

Daxtear
Guest
Daxtear

7/10??????????? klsghar.g-iöanevtilueil-u via btirwilvzawil.-zcntrwu-c

I can agree with basically everything you said.

alex beatty
Guest
alex beatty

so it like zelda breath of the wild then