So we’ve discovered lost cities, hung from derailed trains, stolen valuable treasure and dealt with disreputable villains as the dreamy Nathan Drake in the Uncharted franchise. We’ve also taken on ghastly clickers, runners, bloaters and encountered other horrors of the zombie apocalypse as the stoic Joel in The Last of Us, all whilst our heartstrings have been seriously tugged.
However, before all of that, we were smashing wooden crates, collecting Wumpa fruits and colourful masks as the lovable goofball Crash Bandicoot. It’s been over two decades since Naughty Dog’s whimsical platformer Crash Bandicoot first crashed into our lives – and onto our games consoles. After a while, Crash Bandicoot quickly became the poster boy, or bandicoot rather, for PlayStation and an icon within the world of gaming.
Crash Bandicoot recently made a surprise cameo in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, during an early scene between Nathan and Elena (because nothing says ‘I love you’ more than Crash Bandicoot, right?) much to the huge delight of fanboys and fangirls everywhere. After we got a little taste of video game nostalgia in Uncharted 4, as well as a brief glimpse of how much video games have evolved over the past two decades, we were craving more.
And now, over two decades after he first made his debut, Crash Bandicoot makes his glorious return and he’s spinning his way back into our lives in all of his fully remastered glory, thanks to Vicarious Visions and Activision. But not without any bumps and flaws.
Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy allows us to relive our childhoods with the collection of three titles, originally released on the PSOne, packed into one – the original Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped.
The best thing is that you can play any of the three games in any order. For example, if you wanted to play the third game, then you wouldn’t have to complete one and two in order to do so.
The remastered game has the most amazing visuals with the excellent attention to detail, especially with the level and character design. From the sand-dunes, to the movement of the grass and the leaves and the intricate Mayan-style decorations on the sculptures, the levels do provide an aesthetic treat. You can also see the details of the fur on Crash Bandicoot, which goes to show how much care and attention has gone into the more aesthetic elements of the game.
The colourful levels of The Wumpa Islands in particular certainly give off a very Disney-like vibe and are a lot clearer, compared to last time. The game performs extremely well now that it’s running at a much higher frame rate.
There’s also the classic soundtrack, which has been polished, which is instantly recognisable to the long-time fans of the franchise. There’s no deep narrative as such so the game offers some very light-hearted entertainment.
In spite of the vivid aesthetics, the gameplay can be a very bumpy ride at times. It’s still relatively the same as the originals were. The biggest let-down, however, is the very awkward controls, which take a long time to get to grips with. These are extremely noticeable when you’re jumping over the platforms. These issues are particularly present during the side scrolling platform levels, like The Native Fortress, as when jumping from platforms, the controls were really slippery.
The issue is also present during the Hog Wild level, in which there are lags when bouncing off the drums and that can be a real pain. So the key is to be wary of timing issues when jumping across platforms.
Another noticeable problem is that there’s an input delay when you come to spin attack enemies, which mostly results in an annoying instant death. This is another aspect which makes the game highly frustrating to play at times and made it quite a slog to play through.
If you are someone who played lots of platform games during the 1990s, like Battletoads for example, or even the more modern-day indie platformers, like Super Meat Boy, then you’ll fully understand how damn difficult they are. And this is absolutely no exception. There’s going to be lots of patience and tenacity needed, as you will die. A lot. So you better get used to seeing that extremely terrifying Game Over screen frequently!
Overall, it’s an aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable piece of nostalgia, but not without its weak points. The often slippery controls are a hindrance to the nostalgic experience and present the game with its biggest let-downs. Whether these will be patched anytime soon remains to be seen, but it’s all about trying to adopt a good strategy in the meantime.
If you’re totally new to the Crash Bandicoot franchise and approaching it with fresh eyes, then it will definitely take you a while to get to grips with the controls, so bear that in mind. It’s great game nonetheless but after a while, you may find it extremely annoying.
Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy - Review
Overall - Good - 6.0/10
Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy is great if you enjoy a challenge and have lots of patience and tenacity. But it’s not without its many flaws and annoyances. Nevertheless, this game would make a great addition to any retro gaming aficionado’s collection.
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