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 »
Tonglongninja
Guest
Tonglongninja

You’ve got a skewed perspective as far as the tech of the time goes. In the west the PSX was out for a year before Voodoo became a thing, but considering widespread glide support was still a ways off, practically it was more like 2 years, and that’s if you were an early adopter.

The reality at the time was software rendering, and probably at 320×240. Compared to that the PSX was actually pretty competitive.

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?

some nerd
Guest
some nerd

it’s like, his opinion, man

Left4Coragem
Member

Yooka Laylee is a new game that chooses to not have modern mechanics to would make it better.

Crash is an old game with graphical improvements and its flaws are because it was the best that the developers could do with what they had.

In the same way i can give the first Doom a better score than Doom 3.

DrLangeskov
Guest
DrLangeskov
I think I know why you are upset. You see these two “older” platformers that have very different scores. Both have that a nostalgia factor surrounding them. The one you like Yooka Laylee got a 2/10 yet Crash bandicoot got 7/10 and you think to yourself: They had the same issues yet he gave that one 7/10!! Bullshit!. The thing you are missing or didn’t read is context. I will give you a example of why context is important. Lets say someone punches you in the face. Are you going to punch them back? Or Talk to me? If you… Read more »
DrLangeskov
Guest
DrLangeskov

Talk to them XD*

mjc0961
Guest
mjc0961

“I say watered-down because many factors lead to a score (those factors are explained in the words before the score)”

Oh man, I am absolutely loving this shade.

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?

commanderkyubey
Member

I read that the same way, was kinda confused initially.

Justin McDaniel
Admin

Yep, that was a mix up, he said. Got it corrected in the right order now. Thanks for pointing that out!

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?

Eggabooha
Guest
Eggabooha

I’d guess…. No one.

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.

Kirk Hammer
Member
Kirk Hammer
Some of the levels (especially in the first game) are frustrating, but there’s a lot of solid fun to be had regardless of if you’ve played them before, and the presentation – music, animations and levels – are really quite charming. Plus you can play them in any order, so you can switch back and forth if you’re getting cheesed off with a particular part, and if you do like them there’s secrets and time trials to add replayability. (Disclaimer: While I 100% completed them for the first time as an adult, I first played them as a child so… Read more »
machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I certainly would, I never played the originals growing up(never owned a PS1) but I still immensely enjoyed this game. I actually think people who never played the originals might have an easier time with the controls since they won’t have muscle memory issues.

mjc0961
Guest
mjc0961

I would go for it, but if you get frustrated with Crash 1, don’t quit the entire collection. Just move on to Crash 2.

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 »
machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I’d like to see a remaster of Wrath of Cortex myself, I think that game was way underappreciated and was actually the very first Crash game I ever played, it got me into the franchise.

Rob
Guest
Rob

It’s been a top seller for a while now. It’s scratching an itch the market is missing so hopefully they remaster Spyro or even make a new Spyro game. I’m not looking forward to chasing egg thieves again or to those dated skateboarding sections.

Jack Philipson
Guest
Jack Philipson

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

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

The motorcycle levels are far worse since you can only go forward and can’t restart when you know you’re gonna lose.

Kirk Hammer
Member
Kirk Hammer

In truth the Jet ski was always a bit frustrating (especially when you’re trying to get a box right next to a bomb) but it does handle differently to the way it used to so some of the complaints may be tinged with thwarted muscle memory.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I found the handling for the jetski to be very smooth, it’s certainly no Wave Race: Blue Storm.

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.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I miss platformers myself and i’m very glad that we’re getting a 2-D sonic game next month(and i’m sure Sonic Forces will be good as well).

mjc0961
Guest
mjc0961

I do hope that’s what it signals to the industry. However, I fear the message the industry will actually take from this is “MOAR REMASTERS!!!!!”

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?

yes
Guest
yes

yes

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 »
Kirk Hammer
Member
Kirk Hammer

They didn’t have the source code for the original games, sadly, so they had to rebuild the whole thing in a modern engine. I suspect that’s part of the problem – in the high road levels for example I noticed the edges of the planks and the tortoise bounce pads seemed “rounded” slightly, causing me to slip off sometimes.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

From what “I hear they did have the source code, but it was far too ancient for them to be able to do anything with it.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

As someone who never played the 1st Crash game, I thought the controls for the new version were pretty damn good, there were some cheap deaths to be sure, but nothing I couldn’t handle, certainly wouldn’t go as far as to call it unplayable. Didn’t feel lazy to me at all.

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

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

Same here.

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.

Linda Sofia Hartlén
Guest
Linda Sofia Hartlén

But you know if they changed things people would scream bloody murder too. An option for classic controls and updated controls would be nice.

Scott Elliott
Guest
Scott Elliott

That sliding thing is actually new because of the shape of the hitbox! The new game appears to use a pill shaped hitbox as is the norm now instead of the original box shape.

Either way you don’t slide off like that in any of the original three.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

The jumping mostly felt fine to me, I quickly got used to holding down X.

Chris
Member

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

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I mean I’d say more Dark Souls, but sure why not.

Chris
Member

It’s the Dark Souls of video games.

NotaRealperson;)
Guest
NotaRealperson;)

We should call for blood 7/10 !!! It’ll affect Golden Turd of the year award!!!

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

wpDiscuz