Video Game Review: “Crash N Sane Trilogy”

  As I’m sure it is with many other gamers, I anticipated the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy with some excitement. I loved the Crash Bandicoot series a lot as a kid and I especially always held Crash Bandicoot 2 in high regard. Furthermore, I also enjoyed the rest of the initial series, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure on the Game Boy Advance, as well as Twinsanity and Tag Team Racing, the latter two video-games being ones I’d be fine seeing receive the remaster treatment, or, at the very least, finding themselves ported onto the Xbox Store or PlayStation Network.

   Like many others, I lost interested in Crash Bandicoot in my later years. Some of that can certainly be credited to the series’ decline or evident loss in identity, as I recall Crash: Mind Over Mutant feeling a little mundane and pedestrian when the dust settled. If I ever have the chance, I would like to go through and review some other entries in the series as well, although, some entries like Crash of the Titans or Mind over Mutants go for a pretty penny online, and considering how lackluster I anticipate them to be, I really can’t justify the investment. Without further ado though, in this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on each individual Crash video-game from the N. Sane Trilogy, opting against dividing it out in increments, because I think a lot of what I’ll comment on will apply accordingly to each installment, especially now that each has added revisions made to them.

   Sometimes it takes going back to where something began in-order to fully realize what worked and decide the best course for thereafter. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a platform video game compilation developed by Vicarious Vision and published by Activision, although originally perceived as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, the series can now be found on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. As already iterated, Vicarious Vision were at the helm for the remaster and certainly deserves a lot of credit in-terms of its contribution to the final product, however, the games released originally, which include Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped, were developed by Naughty Dog for the original PlayStation back in the late-90s. This remaster has been met with considerable critical praise, as well as marketability, with the series having sold over two million copies worldwide by 2018, creating the hope that Vicarious Visions might be able to come together for a new standalone title for the series.

   The stories featured in each Crash video-game is simple and straightforward. It consists of Crash, a bandicoot with a high-desire for jumping on boxes and spinning, stopping Doctor Neo Cortex from taking over the world. You’ll traverse a series of levels, followed by occasional boss-battles, all while collecting Wumpa fruit.

   As far as less obvious changes, the remaster improves smaller details like the save system, adds time trials (which weren’t added in til the third game), allows the ability to play most levels as Crash’s sister Coco, and adds new recordings of the game’s dialogue with the help of the more recent voice-actors for the series. The more obvious changes can surely be seen in the graphical presentation though, because all three games look and sound fantastic, bringing the vibrantly colorful worlds to the modern-era, equipped with the stylish and unique music that helps make it feel hard not to love the series’ energy and upbeat enthusiasm.

Crash Bandicoot

   Something you might be curious to hear is that I wasn’t a fan of the first Crash video-game when I was a kid. As a matter-of-fact, I didn’t like the first Crash on-account of the difficulty I had maneuvering the camera-angles. Difficulty is a new word I’ve seen thrown around when everyone talks about this Trilogy and, firstly, I don’t understand why this is perceived as a new revelation and secondly, I don’t think it is an entirely accurate observation. The reason I disagree is because, from my perspective, Crash 2 and Crash 3 are very casual video-games. They’re straightforward and have an average-amount of challenge to them. If someone were to describe them individually, they’d more likely call them a good or a bad video-game. It’s only the first Crash video-game I would refer to as above the difficulty of typical plat-formers.

   And most of that has to do with its nature as a kind-of, almost 3D plat-former, blending side scrolling, front-scrolling, and back-scrolling, usually, to very good results, but oftentimes, as well, with maddeningly irritating quirks. You’ll find yourself constantly thinking you’re jumping one way, only to find yourself spazzing out and jumping in a completely different direction then what’s intended. The limited nature of your jumping can also make precision difficult to gauge.

   Unfortunately, for the remastered Crash, a lot of the problems with that remain. I appreciate it more now that I’m older though, and what made me dislike it as a kid doesn’t feel like a deal-breaker any more.

   The first Crash has plenty of fun moments and although I don’t feel it has the blissful playability of its successors due to what I’ve mentioned, I do think it’s a solid, mascot-based plat-former.

   Some criticisms about Crash in 1996 are still relevant today when they say that Crash didn’t necessarily innovate. Although its presentation was smooth and notable at the time (and now, with the visual overhaul), most of what you see in Crash has been seen in other earlier titles like Donkey Kong Country. Another fact is that the boss-battles themselves, unlike the levels, felt very undercooked and like more could have been done for them.

   Crash Bandicoot is a solid plat-former for its time and a decent plat-former looking back and with Vicarious Vision’s fantastic job sprucing it up to the modern-era, makes a nostalgic trip for fans and a decent starting point for young gamers.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

   Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is rightfully considered (generally) as a superior game to its predecessor. The game’s graphics, control and music have continued to improve, and, more importantly, it fixed pretty much all the criticisms I had in-regards to the camera-angle and platforming of the first.

   The story-line is straightforward and stays simple, which is what I think is likely for the best with a mascot game like this because it allows the charm to be appreciated, whereas, if it were featured more robustly, I think the humor and novelty of itself would start to have its faults overexposed. In this one, Crash is abducted by Doctor Neo Cortex and is tricked into gathering Crystals across various levels.

   Crash 2 captures a wonderful playability in-nature and while I think you could still argue a lot of the faults I mentioned earlier about the first (the boss-battles are easy and the game-play itself isn’t too innovative), I think it bucks off some of that stigma simply because of how much more fun and fluid it is.

   The visuals at the time of release for Crash 2 were considered of a high-quality, and Vicarious Vision does a fantastic job of making them a high-quality once again.

   I’ve tried to look at Crash 2 as objectively as one can with a subjective opinion. Similar to those might’ve grown up on Mario or Sonic, I was brought up on Crash and Spyro (and subsequently, Ratchet and Sly), and so, I spent a lot of time with the series. In-particular, I spent a lot of time on Crash 2 because I didn’t own a copy of Crash 3 as a kid and, of course, I had my faults with the original game.

   Crash Bandicoot 2 doesn’t break the mold the way I would’ve liked. It isn’t embroidered with groundbreaking concepts or sophisticated puzzle-solving, and it does have glaring weak-spots like it’s boss-battles. However, Crash Bandicoot 2 does provide a very fun video-game, with humor and charm, and a seamless, rhythmic game-play that feels very polished and very realized. I would have called it an above-average plat-former before Vicarious got their hands on it, and now, it has only gotten better.

Crash Bandicoot: Warped

   Something I hadn’t expected when I bought the N. Sane Trilogy and began playing is I hadn’t expected for Crash Bandicoot: Warped to be the best entry in the series. I had definitely played some of Warped as a kid, but, evidently, a lot of my notions about the series titles must’ve become blurry over the years.

   The game takes place immediately after the events of the second game after Doctor Neo Cortex unleashes Uka Uka’s (the mask often seen following Crash around) evil twin brother, who joins with Cortex and Doctor Nefarious Tropy in their effort to gather Crystals that lay across time, looking to enslave Earth. Crash and friends set out to stop him.

   First and foremost, although the storyline itself continues to rightly take a backseat to the game-play, it’s definite that the charm of the characters is allowed bleed through more robustly this time around.

   Not only that but Warped introduces a lot of new and interesting locations for Crash to explore, alongside an inspired variation of different music to accompany us, setting the mood. Although Vicarious Vision has widely closed the gap in making the Trilogy visually on-par with one another, Crash: Warped looked the best then and it looks the best now, benefiting from so many unique locations for the developers to depict, whether it be in the prehistoric era with dinosaurs or the Middle-Ages with wizards and knights.

   The new, unique settings are one thing, however, what really sets Warped aside is how it beautifully blends everything established before with newly integrated ideas, making small tweaks and modifications that make all the difference in-terms of making Warped step out of the shadow of some of the other plat-forming entries it’s often compared to.

   The easy, overtly simple and undercooked boss-battles of the previous installments have been improved a considerable amount. Although I will admit a couple of the bosses felt throwaway in nature, I do think Crash 3’s boss-battles deliver where it counts most.

   Crashed Bandicoot: Warped delivers a very good video-game experience, enhanced terrifically by Vicarious Vision’s remaster. The video-game keeps the sheer playability of Crash 2 and improves on it, adds more charm to the characters, and through its unique settings, allows an experience that improves on its predecessors in virtually every way possible.

Rating: – 4.0 out of 5.0