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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

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Summary

Available June 30 on PS4

Crash Bandicoot’s return was greeted with rapturous applause during its announcement at last year’s E3. However, a subsequent gameplay trailer seemed to quell much of that excitement, with eager fans disappointed by the visual quality – or lack thereof – of the game.

Getting the chance to play three chapters, it’s clear that the N. Sane Trilogy is a remake very true to its source material, which is both a blessing and a curse. How you feel about the original series will determine on which side you’ll fall on June 30.

Pre-order Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

The N. Sane Trilogy combines the first three Crash Bandicoot games together into one HD-ified package, rebuilt from the ground up from their PSone roots. Developer Vicarious Visions has completely redesigned the vast majority of things in the game, using only the basic architecture of the originals’ level designs. However, in an opening presentation, the developer insisted that the core of what made these games so special is still present. Meaning that any exploits, secrets and cheats used by speedrunners will be in the remakes, too.

I got the chance to play three chapters from the third Crash game, Warped. The first, Double Header, is a nice example of exactly what Crash Bandicoot is and why the mischievous marsupial is still loved almost a decade since his last proper outing.

Related: E3 2017

crash bandicoot

The best way to describe a basic Crash Bandicoot level is an endless runner, but with buttons. As one of the very first 3D adventure titles, the Crash series broke the mould of its time, but in the modern setting it’s positively old school. Running forward across a plane of limited width, dodging enemy attacks, collecting Wumpa Fruit, avoiding TNT and Nitro boxes and finding hidden secrets is pretty much it.

That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, though. While not offering the complexity or the tight controls of, say, a Nintendo game, it’s still an enjoyable 3D platformer, something all too rare in 2017.

One thing that was a little annoying was Crash’s double jump. When executing the second jump, rather than continue his momentum and it be used to reach higher or further ledges, Crash seems to instead do this weird mid-air vertical bound, which almost completely stops any forward momentum you had.

Running through Double Header, a marshland-type level, it’s clear to see that the game is much better looking than what was initially shown off a year ago. It certainly won’t blow anybody’s socks off, but it’s a pretty, colourful game. It lacks the lighting effects and details of the latest blockbuster releases, but it’s perfectly nice to look at as you smash and grab your way through the terrain. In the opening presentation the developer talked about taking advantage of the PS4 and PS4 Pro, though from a graphical standpoint, I don’t see this trilogy even pushing the former console.

Related: PS4 Pro vs PS4

crash bandicoot

What it will push, though, is your will and patience. Much like many old-school platformers, Crash will challenge even skilled players. Thankfully, a series of fun and entertaining death animations help cushion the blow of the demise, watching Crash fly into the TV screen or be chopped in half helps deal with the frustration of him not doing what he was supposed to a few seconds earlier.

What the game does do, rather cleverly, is adapt the difficulty of levels based on how much the player is struggling. Die in the opening segment of a level and the game will gift you an Aku Aku mask so the first hit no longer kills. It’s a great feature, if a little too quick to lend a hand. Many criticise the 'Golden Tanooki' of recent Mario games, but the reason it was brilliant is it was an option for players struggling, and only activated after five deaths. In Crash you’ll get a mask after your very first death, making the effort at times feel patronising. But with lives being a much less frequent grab, it makes sense for the game to try and help when it can.

The three levels I got to play showed the variety the trilogy will offer, with the second outing, Orange Asphalt, being an entertaining racer that again looks very much like the birth of an endless runner. What this also revealed was Crash’s ability to continue to appeal to high-score chasers and speedrunners.

At the start of every level is a spinning stopwatch, and running into it will mean you’re now taking on the level in speed-run format. Some wooden crates will be swapped for yellow boxes with numbers, indicating the amount of seconds your overall timer will be paused, so trying to hit all of them in one run will significantly reduce your 'lap time'. This was where the game sunk its hooks in, as I tried desperately to get below the 'target time', restarting over and over to try and make the perfect run, it suddenly became very nostalgic.

Related: Upcoming PS4 Games

crash bandicoot

First Impressions

I enjoyed my time playing the N. Sane Trilogy, but I don’t know if that’s purely because I have the frame of reference of having played the original games. I don’t know how a younger player will take to a trilogy with all the sentiments of a '90s platformer, with all the baggage that brings.

The controls are fine, but the mechanics themselves can be a little sloppy, with some deaths feeling entirely not your fault. It looks nice, but doesn’t have the 'wow' factor of modern games. There’s loads of content, but I imagine much of it will begin to feel familiar before you get to the end of it.

Will the N. Sane Trilogy be a hit? I certainly think it’ll appeal to fans who played the games on PSone, but in terms of introducing Crash to a new generation, I don’t think this will be the game to do it.

Joe Jacob

May 27, 2017, 10:57 am

Did you really call wumpa fruit "apples"?

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