When Sony revealed they would, with the help of Vicarious Visions, be remaking from the ground up, the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy from the PS1 era, the nostalgia hype train was put in motion. Not seen since 2008’s Mind Over Mutant the original Sony mascot is back. All of the PS2 games were overlooked and that’s fine, these are the three developed by Naughty Dog, that game studio which made that zombie game I forget the name of…
Oh the Nostalgia
So, growing up I loved the Crash Bandicoot games, it was one of the first games I ever played and me and my cousins would spend hours trying to get through the levels, passing over the controller if you lost a life, good times. I remember Crash Bandicoot being very difficult like most games of that era, punishing the slightest mistakes, the dreaded game over screen and the like. Vicarious Visions has done a great job of updating the game for modern audiences but still keeping the tone, and almost cruelly unforgiving gameplay intact.
First up all three games look beautiful. The remade graphics make the games look right at home on PS4, improved textures, character and enemy models look more detailed, environments are more vibrant and colourful than they have ever been. The voice acting is no different from in the original games and the remastered soundtrack is a familiar and welcome accompaniment to gameplay.
The original Crash is probably the most challenging of the three games. The pacing is a bit off with some levels out staying their welcome and level design can be almost unfairly punishing. Some of the platforming requires absolute perfect timing and even then what would normally be a perfect jump can lead you to fall to your death. It can get very frustrating. Even more so if you are trying to go for the gems and relics which require you to smash all boxes and finish the levels with no deaths and next to no mistakes. I couldn’t do it and I have no shame in admitting it. Nevertheless the game is as difficult as it was on the PS1 and I appreciate that, but most importantly it is also as fun as I remember. Plus analog controls make running through the levels a bit smoother.
All in all a good starting point in the collection, introducing platforming which will be featured throughout the series. Boss battles in this and the other Crash games still involve trial and error to figure out how to beat them, although Vicarious Visions has generously included hints in the loading screens.
Now Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is where both Naughty Dog back in the day and Vicarious Visions really hit their stride. Not only is Crash 2 the best Crash game, it is legitimately one of the best platformers of this or any generation. Level design is a lot more polished, the platforming is more rewarding and fair without losing the sense of difficulty. The controls are also much better, giving you more control over the bandicoot and the addition of sliding and belly flops is a welcome layer to the gameplay. The levels also have a nice amount of variety, freshening things up when needed. The addition of death routes, optional areas if you have thus far survived the level, also encourage you to replay levels with added challenge and incentive. The relics and gems are much more attainable in this game compared to the first and more fun to attempt.
If you have no interest in the Crash Bandicoot series or hate the first game, hold back any opinion or returning the game until you have played Crash 2, it’s worth it.
Finally Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Arguably the weakest of the three which surprised me as I remember it being better than the first. Whilst the traditional platforming levels are as fun to play as they are in Crash 2, Warped includes way too many ‘gimmick’ levels which leave a lot to be desired. Scuba diving, jet skiing, air plane flying, and oh good lord those motorcycle levels. It sounds like a good mix but some of these levels just straight up punk you if you aren’t patient. Still a good game and true to the original, but some of the gameplay tropes feel a little forced and unwelcome.
It is also worth noting that all three games give you the option to play through as Coco Bandicoot which is a nice extra. The inclusion of autosaves also make getting a game over, which will happen a lot, not the complete reason to throw your controller as it might have used to. Loading times however are way too long and once you start the game there are some unskippable developer intros which are cool when you first put the disc in, but annoying any time after that. However when you die the game is quick to put you back at the last checkpoint which is appreciated.
Overall this is a fantastic collection of three classic games. Old fans will be bathing in nostalgia and new fans will gain a glimpse at one of the original pioneers of the platform genre. Hopefully this will continue the platformer revival. The games are still very challenging, it seems it doesn’t matter how old you are, but they are also fun and for the most part will have you gaming with a smile on your face. Now all we need is a remastered Crash Team Racing!
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