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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review


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On 07/26/2018 at 02:28 PM by Nick DiMola

N. Sanely beautiful.
RECOMMENDATION:

If you love Crash, this is an amazing remaster that you shouldn't hesitate to grab. All others might want to consider renting, because outside of Warped, this experience feels dated and rough.

Back when Crash Bandicoot hit the scene, I was a firmly entrenched Nintendo fanboy. Crash, to me, was a second rate 3D platformer that was put to utter shame by the fantastic platformer offerings of the N64. I’ll admit, the N. Sane Trilogy has done little to elevate the core material for me, but it does leave me wishing that other companies would show as much love and care to their older 3D games as Vicarious Visions has shown here.

These remakes are gorgeous and they’re incredibly well done. Ignoring any opinions I may espouse later in the review, if you’re a fan of Crash, you absolutely should not hesitate in picking up this remaster. From what I understand, the Switch port greatly benefits from the extra year of development and comes complete with fixes and bonus content that was only recently released on the PS4. Despite the resolution being a bit lower in TV mode (720p upscaled to 1080p), it’s a game that plays smooth and looks great in portable mode, which would likely be the reason you’re eyeing this on the Switch.

For everyone else, especially those without any strong opinions on the Crash games, a recommendation on picking up the N. Sane Trilogy becomes a bit more complicated. Having played through all three games for this review, the only game in the trilogy that seems to really stand the test of time is Crash 3. While Crash 2 isn’t bad, it still has a handful of carryover issues. Frankly, Crash 1 just isn’t worth playing at all. It feels like a proof-of-concept that’s punishingly hard for all the wrong reasons.

While I played the games in chronological order, approaching in reverse chronological order, may actually have been a better approach. Crash 1 is an absolutely jarring experience. Physics and collision often feel off in a way that’s hard to pinpoint or describe (which, to a certain extent carries into 2). Jumps that seem easy actually require incredible precision to hit perfectly. Other levels require a combination of perfect timing, perfect accuracy, and the foresight to know what hazards come next. Colliding with enemy hitboxes also feels super easy, which results in frequent deaths, even when you know exactly what to do.

In brief, Crash 1 stacks the deck against you. There’s a lot of muscle memory you’ll need to build up to get through the game and score 100% of the collectibles. Small miscalculations can ruin your attempt and it becomes extremely frustrating. Towards the end of the game, just getting through some of the levels with no intention of getting everything feels overwhelmingly difficult. The bridge levels immediately come to mind (they’re terrible).

Playing Crash 2, I realized just how much I had been punishing myself with the original game. To say the least, it’s a much better game. It adds the slide attack, which provides a bit more variety to the gameplay and allows you to perform a longer jump, which addresses some of the precision jumping issues found in the first game. Hit detection generally feels better. Level variety is improved. However, the game adds the nitro boxes which also have annoyingly unforgiving hit boxes, as well as random jumping animations that make them frustrating hazards that are everywhere in levels.

Despite feeling much better to play, there’s still something off in Crash 2 that disappears in 3. Generally speaking it’s a more forgiving game, but a lot of it feels uninspired. There’s still lots of tricks baked into levels that will force a death so you learn and memorize what’s coming up next to get through. Hidden stretches of levels are tough to find like in the first and it makes it generally tough to get through the game and grab everything without the assistance of a guide.

Like the first game, the boss designs are terrible and the encounters often go too long. It’s super easy to get killed and will take lots of memorization to make your way through each encounter, other than the battle with Cortex, which is surprisingly easy.

Crash 3, on the other hand, is just a good game; no need for caveats. All of the ideas put forth in 1 and 2 are fully realized. The control and hit detection feel like they’re finally right, and things like the nitro boxes are thinned out to be more manageable and less of a deadly hazard as they are in 2. The vehicle stages don’t control particularly well, but you adapt and eventually do better and make it through.

The best feature of 3 are the new powers you earn upon defeating bosses. One boss will allow you to glide after jumps with your attack, another lets you double jump, one unlocks a fruit bazooka to destroy hazards from afar. Each upgrade feels valuable and opens up the experience a bit more and gives you a real sense of progression. Getting all of the collectibles is a bit more of a joy because there’s a degree of puzzle solving to destroying all the boxes that doesn’t always rely on pureplay platforming

3 also has a ton of bonus content that’s totally worth playing, extending the experience considerably. The secrets are neat and there’s some real fun to be had in tracking them down. This is a game I wouldn’t mind revisiting in the future and most likely will.

But therein lies the big issue I have with this trilogy; Crash Bandicoot: Warped (3) feels like the only game really worth playing and eventually revisting. Though Cortex Strikes Back (2) isn’t horrible, it’s nowhere near the caliber of Warped. With only half of the offering of the N. Sane Trilogy really being worth your gaming time, you might be best off renting if you’ve got no nostalgia for the series.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


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Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Super Step Contributing Writer

07/28/2018 at 02:10 AM

I actually enjoyed what I played of Crash 1 and was welcoming the compact level design and super-precise platforming challenges to a point. Having said that, I think I may take your advice and work backwards in order to get more out of the experience. I think I need to finally abandon the shame associated with not wanting to continue games I find difficult or frustrating. There are just too many I want to see through to the end to adopt that mentality and I'm not sure the challenge is really adding anything to my experience after a point.

Having said that, I do want to feel the gratification of completing all three games and in the context of a platformer I'm in my element enough it's not a dealbreaker; but I think adult me needs to learn it's ok to take breathers from things that ultimately don't help the rest of my life.

Nick DiMola Director

07/30/2018 at 10:46 AM

With Crash 1 it probably depends how far you got. By the third island, every level requires extreme precision and controlling Crash is anything but precise. The bridge levels are especially frustrating and there's another that has no checkpoints (that I can recall) that's just brutal to get through.

The compactness of it definitely remains true through all three games, so it's likely that whatever you appreciated in 1 you'll appreciate a lot more in 3 and to a lesser extent 2.

I don't mind frustrating and difficult games, if they're "tough but fair". Crash 1 never felt that way. I felt like there was a level of perfection required that was just unreasonable given the control.

Super Step Contributing Writer

07/30/2018 at 12:39 PM

I got a couple levels past the one WhatCulture kept complaining about (a bridge one), and I think I'm decently close to the end. "The High Road" was a couple levels or so ago for me I believe.

I can agree with the control being the issue to an extent, but ultimately the developer said they made the hit boxes a bit weird and I figured I could get used to that. I definitely used plenty of checkpoints though. I think the camera was a bigger issue for me in several cases.

Nick DiMola Director

07/30/2018 at 01:44 PM

Oh you're definitely near the end. Just truck on through at that point. May as well continue through chronologically.

Super Step Contributing Writer

07/30/2018 at 06:43 PM

There was a factory level giving me trouble, if memory serves.

mothman

07/30/2018 at 11:45 AM

I picked it up twice. Once for PS4 and again when it landed on the Switch. I'm not really good at platformers so I die a lot but I enjoy playing until frustration sets in. My son on the other hand managed to complete all 3 and wring every last drop out of these remakes. 

The originals were some of my wife's favourite games so I did not hesitate to pick them up again. Did not succeed in bringing her back to gaming though.

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