As a conscript in the Nintendo army during the Great Console War in the 90s, ads like the one where Crash taunts Mario at Nintendo's headquarters used to get under my skin. Who did this—bandicoot was it?- think he was, challenging the great Mario? I had to hate Crash Bandicoot, even if I was secretly jealous every time I played the games over at friends’ houses.
Of course that was just me being a stupid kid. Now I’m an adult who is confident enough to own his life choices. I’m perfectly fine admitting that I enjoyed the original Crash Bandicoot games when I played them and that I was very excited for the original trilogy remaster on the PS4.
Vicarious Visions has poured a lot of care into this remaster. Every thing about the original games are here, warts and all. Except it’s all in glorious HD which means the warts are even more noticeable than they originally were.
The accidental deaths from falling into pits due to poor camera angles and sometimes difficult to judge depth return from the original games. With the addition of concessions to modern gamers like an autosave feature and a top to bottom beautiful remaster of the graphics, sound and music, it’s hard to forgive Vicarious Visions for not fixing the camera and control issues that occasionally cropped up in the original releases. Occasional is the operating word there. For the most part the games play amazingly, which is why these moments tend to stand out— they really mess up the games’ immaculate pacing.
Perhaps the development team was afraid of upsetting the purists, and believe me, I get how risky it is making any changes to gameplay when remastering a game, but sometimes its a risk worth taking, especially when dealing with a 3D platformer from the beginning of the 3D console era.
Still, when the gameplay is working the game is beautiful, nostalgic fun. Much like the originals, the N. Sane Trilogy just oozes charm. The sound design, music and aesthetics are all reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon, which makes the game a joy to play through…until you fall down a stupid pit again because the camera was in a very inopportune place or because the jumping physics from Crash 3 have been copied and pasted to Crash 1 without any modification to the level designs.
As such, I found Crash Bandicoot 1 the most difficult and hardest to replay, Crash 2 a little strange to play, but overall still the masterpiece I remember it being and Crash 3 feeling the truest to the original in terms of how it plays. While I understand what Vicarious Visions was going for with this choice, wanting each game to feel uniform- going from Arkham Asylum’s rhythm of fighting to Arkham City’s in Return to Arkham was very jarring for me— I would have liked them to make adjustments to the levels of Crash 1 and 2 to accommodate the different physics.
+Gameplay is as fun, addictive and rewardingly challenging as ever
+The game looks beautiful
+Modern-day concessions like auto-saving
- Crash Bandicoot: Warped jumping physics have been applied to Crash 1 and 2 making for some difficult jumps
-Camera and angle problems from the originals have not been corrected.
All in all, I think Vicarious Visions did an admirable job remastering three of gaming’s most classic entries. While fans of the original entries may have some trouble adapting to the wonky physics in the first and second games, and new players may need some time to adjust to the “trial and error” mentality of platforming in the 90s and both will have to fight against an uncooperative camera at times, The N. Sane trilogy is beautiful enough, addictive enough, and most important of all, fun enough to warrant a look, especially for fans of platforming. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see a resurgence in interest in the 90s style 3D platformers.