Crash Bandicoot Review: N’Credible Remakes

Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy is an authentic recreation of the 1990’s platformers, with every detail you remember expertly crafted in stunning HD. You will have a hard time spotting any major differences though there is one nagging gameplay change that you may think is just in your head but is real. Overall, N’Sane Trilogy gives long-time fans a rewarding trip down memory lane and newcomers a primer on 3D platformers in the 90’s.

There is a bit of a renaissance for 3D platformers happening right now. Super Mario Odyssey looks to go back to the open, exploration heavy style of Mario 64/Sunshine this holiday. Playtonic Games released Yooka Laylee this past April, a spiritual successor to the Banjo Kazooie series. Add to this the upcoming Sonic Mania, which is a 2D sprite-based platformer but no less a game capitalizing on 90’s nostalgia, and it appears that the 30 to 40 year olds who made up Generation X over 20 years ago have taken the top spot of demographics to appeal to through nostalgia. N’Sane Trilogy should be right up your alley if you’re enjoying this 90’s comeback.

If you remember, back in 1996 Crash Bandicoot was tough as nails. You still break boxes, jump and spin to defeat enemies. Saving wasn’t as easy as it is today and the game was going up against NiGHTS: Into Dreams and Mario 64. Sadly, Sega didn’t have a NiGHTS sequel ready in time for this review so we’ll have to settle for just Crash and Mario games in 2017. Everything you remember about the original three games is here: The 90’s attitude, Cortex as a cheesy saturday-morning cartoon villain and Naughty Dog’s expertly crafted level design.

Yes, there are certain levels that will make you scream at your TV for hours. I’m looking at you High Road and Cold Hard Crash. Fuck those two levels in particular. These infuriating levels require you to be absolutely perfect with your button presses and timing. You will throw down your controller in frustration, you may even break it. Once you’re done pouting, you’ll want to keep playing like I did.

While a handful of levels could be more forgiving, they are made somewhat easier by a much more reliable save and checkpoint system. In the original Crash, you can now save between completed levels and there are more checkpoints than before in all three games. If I had to rate each game in terms of difficulty, it would go in chronological order as each game’s challenges get progressively more palatable.

The new checkpoints are a welcome addition but the most stunning change is the revamped visuals. Crash has real fur now! Character models and environments are finally as vibrant as we imagined they were when our youthful eyes first saw them decades ago. The music also serves as a charming backdrop for the lovingly recreated graphics so there can be little doubt that Vicarious Visions did a fantastic job in updating a classic for modern audiences without compromising the identity of the originals. This means leaving some N’Sane (get it!?) difficulty spikes in.

My only real disappointments come down to two things: The lack of a real-time 90’s to today graphics swap, like in the Halo CE remake for Xbox 360 and the increased difficulty.

Yes, Vicarious Visions has confirmed that due to physics changes in the game’s engine that some portions of levels require more pinpoint timing than the original games. These sections are brief and minor in the grand scheme of things and by no means common over all three games. This is largely due to most of the code from 1996 being lost. This also explains why there is no quick swap between 1996 and 2017 visuals like in Halo CE Anniversary. Unless there was an emulator built into the game running the originals through emulation on PS4, I doubt Vicarious Visions would be able to pull this off. Its something I really wanted to see but since Sony likely hasn’t even created a PS1 emulator for PS4, it was not to be.

In the end, N’Sane Trilogy does the best job you could ask for in terms of re-creating games over two decades old while still maintaining what made fans love them back then. The visual overhaul is breath-taking, the core level design is still challenging and superb and the value consumers get from this $39.99 package is impossible to argue against. If you had written down Crash fans desires for these remakes before telling them this was happening, there would be no wish list changes overlooked in the final product.

Final Thoughts

Crash Bandicoot: N'Sane Trilogy is largely a perfect recreation of the original PS1 games. Some minor difficulty changes, lack of present to past graphics swapping feature and standard 90's difficulty spikes to leave a little to be desired but not much.

Overall Score 85%