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Review: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy- Spin It Again, Sam.

Oh no…….oh god….

I’ve mentioned before in several reviews, mostly these two that I absolutely adore the Crash Bandicoot series. I grew up playing the second and third games as a kid and while I was never the BIGGEST fan of the first one I still enjoyed it for what it was. Growing UP as a Crash fan, on the other hand, was very difficult because much like Spyro, the license holders for the series (Vivendi Universal first and then Activision) had no idea what to do with the little bastard. They tried going back to the classic formula, party games, a glitchy open-world game, and two beat ’em ups with a horrid art style. To be honest with you I fell out of the franchise pretty hardcore after Twinsanity and didn’t even both picking up any of those games as they were coming out because as far as I knew, the Crash I knew and loved was long gone and was never going to come back.

Then he did.

At Sony’s press conference in 2016, the crazy bastards decided to announce “Oh yeah we’re remaking the first three games.”. HUH? That shocked the hell out of EVERYONE but it also got people excited. While I’m sure a lot of people would have preferred a brand new game in the franchise, I always thought remaking the old games made more sense. Those games were already good they just needed to redo the visuals and modernize them a bit by tweaking the controls and the stupid dumbass idiot dickbrained gem and save requirements in Crash 1. I pretty much got the game the day it came out back in 2017 and I played the ever-loving hell out of it.

Yes! For once on this website, we’re talking about a game I have not only played already but fully completed as well! The reason being is because in a few weeks we’re finally getting a brand new Crash Bandicoot game. Not a remake, not a remaster, a brand new game officially continuing the story of Crash Bandicoot Warped. I really wanted to revisit this collection to prepare myself for it, and it was just as fun AND frustrating as I remember it being.

General Overview

What do you think the “N” stands for?

The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is the brainchild of Vicarious Visions and is an amazing compilation of the original Crash trilogy. VV really went above and beyond in terms of bringing these three games into the modern age while retaining what made each game fun and memorable in the first place. Each game feels silky smooth in terms of controls and while there are slight hiccups when it comes to hitboxes and collision detection, it still ends up feeling tight and responsive (outside of one VERY bad gameplay section, but we’ll get to that in due time). The visuals are very…interesting, to say the least. While the trilogy has very solid art direction and environments, the lighting they used for the game doesn’t do it any favors. Things such as water and fur end up looking off in certain levels and good god I don’t know what they did to Crash but his model is all over the place when it comes to light detection.

Why do his eyes have shadows?

These complaints aside, though. I do think the N. Sane Trilogy has an overall good visual style that fits in fairly well with the art and character designs. One last thing I want to bring up before we go into more detail with the games themselves, I thought Vicarious Visions did an amazing job with the soundtrack. Every track was lovingly recreated and remixed and are all very faithful to Josh Mancell’s original compositions. While I do wish you had the option to play the games with the original soundtracks, that doesn’t mean that these aren’t perfect substitutions for them.

ANYWAYS, enough with the shared nonsense, let’s talk about each game in this package and talk about why I both love each game and fucking hate them.

Crash Bandicoot

Cutscenes look beautiful, by the way.

Just gonna be straight up with you: Crash Bandicoot is the star of this collection. It got the most improvements, it has the best visuals, it has the perfect length, and it’s just flat out fun. In terms of mechanics, what on earth do you want me to say? Crash 1 is by far the most basic of the package as Crash can only run, jump, and spin his way to the end. There are three types of levels to be found in this game, hallway styled levels with a behind the back perspective, standard sidescrolling sections, and the stupid pig levels that I hate and can’t stand. While it’s a tad on the hard side, playing Crash Bandicoot is generally a good time as the levels are fairly long with a lot of great platforming challenge and really fun level design, especially in the hallway levels as you can take alternate routes that each provide their own challenges. Where the TRUE difficulty lies, however, is in the box breaking.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. You can play as Coco in all three games. Cool.

Scattered throughout every level in the Crash Bandicoot series are little brown crates that house either wumpa fruits or extra lives if you’re lucky, along with the occasional time-based TNT crate. If you break all of them in a stage, you get a gem and in some cases, a colored gem but that requires you to also not die. Which is easier said than fucking done. Now in the original PS1 version, this remains true except You Can’t Die Period. Even if it’s a standard colorless gem you HAD to break every box and you COULD NOT DIE. And this was the only way you could save your game. That was fucked up but thankfully the N. Sane Trilogy fixes this issue.

The game has an autosave feature which means you don’t have to do that, and you can die as many times as you want if you’re trying to get a normal gem. While the levels themselves can be tricky like I said above, trying to break every box is a different story since you have to backtrack in many levels in order to break every box and some areas can only be accessed with a colored gem that can only be found in certain stages. Some of these challenges go a BIT too far in terms of difficulty (SLIPPERY CLIMB) but I do think this adds a nice bit of challenge to the game

Now, would I recommend 100%ing it? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. All you really get out of it is an alternate ending that is, in my opinion, worse than the standard one. It’s really up to you if you want to take up the challenge. Overall though Crash Bandicoot is still a really good game and has only been perfected even more so on the N. Sane Trilogy. Easily the highlight of the package.

Oh yeah, the bosses suck, by the way. They’re too easy.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Where did Coco come from anyway?

Crash Bandicoot 2 is by far the most beloved game in the franchise. It’s where the series finally started picking up steam and developed an even greater personality. It’s also the first game in the series that I ever played! So nostalgia might play a small part in this section, but not by much. Crash 2 essentially takes what 1 did and improves on almost every aspect of it. The levels offer far greater variety with new locales such as ice lands and sewers and are more tightly designed than in the previous game. While Crash 1 was more basic in terms of level geometry and traversal, Crash 2 adds a ton more stage hazards, level gimmicks, and even secret areas to discover that take you to entirely different levels to grab extra collectibles.

Crash 2, again, isn’t that difficult if you’re just playing it normally. In fact, this time around I only got about 69% of the collectible objects in this game by just playing around and only collecting the crystals, which are required for progression. You may be asking why I didn’t try to 100% this game as I did with Crash 1, well that’s because much like Crash 1 this game is also pretty difficult to complete. You have to do A LOT of backtracking in this game to collect every gem and you NEED those if you want to see the true ending, which to be fair is much more substantial and satisfying than the one in Crash 1. Crash 2 is filled to the absolute brim with gems to collect and they are WAY harder to get this time around.

I meant what I said.

Some stages require backtracking, some require colored gems, some require finding secret areas, and some require you to find secret EXITS in unrelated levels. Now, I already did all this in my initial playthrough of the game and I TRIED to 100% it again, but in the end, I decided against it. While this game is much more difficult and rewarding to complete I just…bro I got other stuff I want to play, man. I already did this. I paid my dues. Now would I recommend people take up the challenge? Absolutely. Some of the secret levels and optional death routes (which you can only access by not dying in a stage) are really fun and the ending you get is really entertaining and really wraps up the game in a nice little comedy bow.

One complaint I have with Crash 2 in this package though is that unfortunately A LOT of the charm of the original game ended up getting lost in translation. While the stages look great and all the shading is by far the WORST in this particular game. The warp rooms are weirdly bright and Crash is strangely dark (that’s where the picture above came from) and the warp room cutscenes aren’t as nearly as fun and animated as they were in the original. This really is just a shitty nitpick but it’s one of those things that ended up sticking with me. I’m sure it won’t bother new players, but it’s still worth noting. Crash 2 is still a wonderful game and probably one of the best sequels in video game history.

Bosses still suck and this game has the lamest final boss though.

Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Why did they bring a polar bear to a tropical island?

Crash Bandicoot: Warped (can I just call this Crash 3?) is another game I grew up with but I definitely don’t remember it as well as 2. That’s not really a knock on the game or anything like that I was just young I guess. I was really looking forward to this one since I’m a slave to my own nostalgia and I was excited to experience again and, well, it’s certainly a Crash game. It’s still a good one, but it’s…something.

Crash 3 is everything Crash 2 was but slightly better. Crash still runs, jumps, spins, and slides (which was introduced in Crash 2….why didn’t I mention that?) his way through levels while smashing boxes and collecting gems and crystals along the way. It’s still great stuff and it’s only enhanced by this games WONDERFUL theming. Crash 3 probably has my favorite locales in the entire series, along with some of my favorite musical tracks. The platforming levels have been PERFECTED and are so much fun to explore and play in. The secrets aren’t as egregious as they were in Crash 2 and is overall a pretty pleasant experience. Is what I would say if a ton of the levels didn’t have these stupid vehicle segments.

This stinks.

So while writing this review, I found that many reviewers were ragging on Crash 2 a little bit. Many of them were saying that there wasn’t enough “variety” in it, thinking that they should spice things up a bit. I guess Naughty Dog (the original devs) saw that and decided to laugh at us and put these in the game. These add variety I guess but they jsut…aren’t fun! There are a few different types of vehicle segments in this game. There’s the motorcycle races (hate them), the tiger riding sections (I’m okay with these actually), and fighter plane levels (my stomach hurts), and the godawful, piss poor, asinine jetski levels with Coco that suck my ass. From what I’ve seen the physics in the N. Sane Trilogy didn’t transfer over that well to the jetski portions and have been cited by many reviews as being WORSE than the PS1 version, which is INSANE to me. And you have to do some crazy stupid stuff in these levels if you want to 100% them.

THIS CONTROLS LIKE ASS!

And you know what? I was at 46% by the end of this one because it’s THE WORST GAME IN THE TRILOGY TO COMPLETE. There are WAY too many gems that are hidden away in this game and trying to get the box gems in the vehicle sections? Good. GOD. Plus, even AFTER you get every gem in every level you STILL aren’t done! Now you have to get the relics! You have to run through every single level in the game AGAIN and achieve at least a sapphire relic in order to face the true final boss and see the real ending. This isn’t a problem on the platforming levels, it’s not. It’s when you get to those stupid vehicle segments when things start to go off the rails. I swear to god when I played this game for the first time I was on the DAMN fighter plane level trying to get that relic for OVER AN HOUR. I didn’t want to put myself through that again. No way in hell. Not even for a review. Do NOT 100% this game. It’s a NIGHTMARE!

but uh…um. The game is still good. It’s still fun on a basic level. I like the little powerups you get. The Death Tornado Spin is fun. Game has the best bosses in the series.

Yeah.

Let This Review End

I really enjoyed revisiting the N. Sane Trilogy for this review. It reminded me why I love Crash Bandicoot and why he’s stuck with me for so long. His gameplay is tight, the platforming is fun, the music is great, Crash has a loveable little face. But my GOD are they frustrating sometimes. I understand that you can’t make a game too easy to 100% complete, that’s just ridiculous, but they could have toned down on the bullshit a little bit. I’m hoping with Crash 4 and having it be the first truly original Crash Bandicoot game in a decade that it still retains a bit of challenge, but maybe scale back a bit with the backtracking and vehicle stuff, or at least make them fun to control. I know it sounds like I got sick of this collection by the end but those feelings are mainly with Crash 3. 1 and 2 are still really, REALLY fun and I do think you should check them out, especially in this collection. Vicarious Visions treated Crash with a lot of love with this and I’m glad they helped bring my favorite little Bandicoot boy back into the mainstream.

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