So many people have their gaming history involving moving from the NES, to the SNES, through the generations. Personally, my first home console was that glorious PS1 thanks to months of begging after playing a young Crash Bandicoot. It was a birthday and Christmas present for myself and my sister, but it was worth it to be able to start playing the role of that little orange bandicoot, and in 2018, thanks to the N.Sane Trilogy, the originals are no longer only for PlayStation kids with a release on Xbox One and Switch. Naturally I checked it out on the Switch.
There is plenty of hate for the third person platforming genre. Without nostalgia for specific games people can be hypercritical to a level the humble 2D platformers don’t get stung with. Personally, I am still a fan, as someone who enjoyed Yooka Laylee, despite its flaws and Super Lucky’s Tale, despite its simplicity. This makes Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy perfect for me, a dose of nostalgia, with an overhaul to make it easier on the eyes.
The graphical overhaul doesn’t only smooth out the edges, Vicarious Visions has rebuilt the game from the ground up and it’s gorgeous. Crash’s initial style being rebuilt give the whole game the perfect Saturday morning cartoon feel, not dissimilar to the level of overhaul seen with the Ratchet and Clank remake.
The rebuild from the ground up fixes the issue of the games aesthetic aging poorly like 3D games form that era have, but controls are another thing that can age badly. Fortunately, this has also been rebuilt which comes with a range of benefits and setbacks. The game controls like a game from this era, but people with history will find some snags with the landing boxes. Crash’s feet don’t hit the areas they used to, which in most cases is good, the game plays as you would expect form a new one, but some of the old exploits, like running along the rope on the high road levels in Crash 1 are significantly harder. Maybe you will have to learn these levels the way they were designed.
The levels themselves, across all three games still hold up. The game has been described as a 2D platformer in a 3D world, and this couldn’t be more apt. While most 3D platformers introduced open worlds and hubs, Crash has linear levels, start to finish, and I love it. The linear levels lend themselves well to replaying, especially with time trials, but while this may not appeal to everyone, it’s so damn fun to play through again.
Another thing that cropped up when the trilogy was released on PS4 was the games brutal difficulty. This is a little off, because despite it not being that easy, I managed to hammer it out on PS4 in under a few weeks. Some levels took me a couple of days to beat, but most of them were easy enough to breeze through, thanks to the games liberal distribution of lives.
The Switch version in handheld mode on the other hand does become a lot more difficult, for frustrating reasons. Jumping, especially in boss battles or vehicle/animal riding levels were significantly harder to judge depth. I’m not sure if it’s the small screen, the Joy-Cons or something more technical, but in handheld mode I died a lot on levels I breezed through on PS4, or when I docked the controller. Jumping dragons when riding the tiger, or jumping things on the jet ski were rough, but this is fixed by popping it in the dock, or powering through.
If replaying an excellent trilogy isn’t quite enough to convince you to go back to this series, maybe this will help…New Levels! Soon after its PS4 release, some DLC was released by way of a classic level, built by Naughty Dog but cut because of its difficulty in The Stormy Decent. This is built into the new release of the N.Sane Trilogy, and can be accessed immediately from the map, but it is brutally hard, so you will want to wait until the end of the last island before you even try it.
Vicarious Vision didn’t want to leave it there with old stuff and decided to make a brand-new level themselves in Crash 3: Warped called Future Tense. It’s another hard level, but with no history to it I couldn’t help but feel snobby about it. Once I let that preconception disappear I found it was as fun as the rest of the levels in the game and can now only hope that Vicarious Vision makes a brand-new Crash game, as they have what it takes.
The Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy is a wonderful rebuild and re-release of an excellent platforming series. It’s the perfect example of how a linear 3D platformer can be in the current gen, and to be honest I hope more devs are inspired to create more. Its clever levels, silly story, and fun aesthetic make for the perfect gaming experience for people of all ages. Despite its flaws on Switch meaning it’s not the best way to play, it’s still an excellent way to play an excellent game if you can handle its undocked quirks.
Blair received a code for Review.