Kyle is back again with more musings. This time he’s having at it with Crash Bandicoot and its seriously tough platforming.
As I’ve written here on this site before, the PS1 days were full of random gaming moments due to not actually owning the system. So my Crash Bandicoot playtimes were all dependent on where friends were in the game or what communities had the titular disc with the accompanying hardware. My memories of the orange menace was mostly positive and definitely something I can remember with enjoyment. Unfortunately, I was either an incredibly patient kid (which is beyond me) or I’m just more methodical now because those rose-tinted glasses were on tight.
You see, my recently completed playthrough of the first Crash did a toll on my psyche. In fact, a controller almost went through my TV. With pleasantries included, was Naughty Dog’s first title always this hard? I died more times than I could count and restarted many levels with vicious bemusement. So much so that I took day long breaks if I got “stuck” on a level. This barely controlled rage got me thinking all the reasons for my anger are very similar to another game series…Dark Souls.
Now let me first address something that will shock many PlayStation fans. I do not like the Souls series. The longest I’ve played one of those titles was Bloodborne and for all about three hours. That doesn’t deter what these games mean for other players as I fully understand the value they bring to the gaming industry. I acknowledge why they are great games and why people love them. However, the heavy repetition, slow to respond controls, and questionable hit detection issues were too much for me personally. It is with those factors I bring over to Crash.
With Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, etc., it’s all about learning the methods and movements of the enemies. Very trial-and-error, if you will. Once you respond to those actions with near perfect reflexes then you’ll be successful. That’s what the orange furball has going for him too, but with the level design. The platforming is probably the hardest enemy in the entire game. You have to more or less learn every part of the level and what buttons to push and when, to pass it. Sound familiar? Just like those accursed bosses, you probably won’t finish a Crash level on your first try without dying.
Furthermore, Crash Bandicoot is unapologetically retro. The questionable controls and platforming make a return. There are no words for how many times I nailed a jump in confidence only to fail miserably. Hell, even moments where the character animation showed me landing sent me plummeting to my demise. At some points only absolute, precise timing would get you to the end of an area. No margin for error or freedom which most games have given us nowadays.
Same goes with the hit detection. Especially those dirty, dirty turtles. (Goddamn you Franklin’s family.) Once again there were times when I jumped on an enemy and failed to land on them or avoid them. Even if the screen showed Coco hitting ground and safely away from harm, she’d pop up daisies regardless. Tell me how many times that has happened to you while playing the Souls series? Not unlike the platforming, you had to learn and be prepared for enemies in your way.
Luckily, I’m more than halfway through Cortex Strikes Back and it’s decidedly easier than its predecessor. In fact, it’s more aligned with my memories of the series as a whole. Still those painstaking hours getting by the prodigal title was akin to my frustration with the Dark Souls series. Although I was able to overcome the former due to the last five levels being incredibly easy for some reason. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to write this short piece so that you youngins who enjoy From Software’s work might find something to like in this game that first released when your parents were kids.
No seriously, f*ck those turtles and their awful hit detection.