Crash Bandicoot, a gaming icon from my childhood, is back and much better looking than he used to be!  The N. Sane Trilogy takes some of the more memorable 90’s video games and polishes them up in this wonderful remaster.

A quick shine brings Crash up to modern times.

  • TL;DR: A great remastering of three equally great Crash games.
  • Platforms: PS4
  • Developer: Vicarious Visions; Naughty Dog
  • Time Played: ~20 hours
  • What I Played: All Crash 3 levels and roughly half the levels in Crash 1 and Crash 2.  Got 13 platinum relics so far.

The N. Sane Trilogy doesn’t set out to do anything new, which was a great plan because the old Crash games were good from the start.  Instead, Vicarious Visions polished the original level data up to give each game new life.  It isn’t purely cosmetic differences, though, as they added relics, items you can collect by replaying levels without dying under a time limit, to Crash 1 and 2.  In the original games, there wer a few levels where you could play as Coco, Crash’s sister.  There is now an option to switch and play as her in any level.

For those who may not have played a Crash game before, they are platformers starring a human-like bandicoot wearing jeans and sneakers with the ability to jump and spin (which serves as an attack).  Crash 3 expands on your powers as you unlock new ones after each boss including double jumps and a bazooka.  Levels are designed to be challenging, often requiring a combination of precision in timing and almost always testing your patience.  As you navigate through the 3D levels ranging from standard platforming fare to vehicle races and blowing up blimps in an airplane, you can break boxes which contain wumpa fruits (see: Mario coins), extra lives, or sometimes TNT.  Many levels have bonus levels and hidden locations packed in.  On top of the relics I mentioned earlier, you can also get gems for collecting all the boxes in each level.

A nice part about Crash is that gems and relics are totally optional so you have the ability to choose your own difficulty.  Beating a level just requires you to navigate the obstacles, get to the checkpoints, and not lose all your lives.  Getting all the boxes feels like the next step up and getting a platinum relic for certain levels can require a blood sacrifice ton of time.  That comes with one major caveat — these games are NOT easy.  You should expect to become familiar with the “game over” screen.

You’ll see this when you close your eyes.

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what makes the N. Sane Trilogy feel so much harder than the original games, leading to a lot of complaints about the controls being “wonky” or messed up.  Crash 3 is the only game I have played recently enough to compare and my opinion is the controls are, if anything, improved.  It is especially apparent on levels where you’re riding a hog or a motorcycle (note: two different things) but it feels like I have more control to make those quick saving maneuvers.  Of the hundreds and hundreds of deaths I’ve had in the game, few have felt unfair and I can almost always tell that I jumped too early, didn’t jump long enough, or came within 20 feet of those goddamned turtles.  Instead, I think the games were always this hard and people just forget that.  If there is anything to complain about, some of the enemies feel like they can deal damage a little further than makes sense and some require a little too much precision to kill them.  All of this is to say the game is very challenging and can be N Sanely (heh) frustrating at times but I’m not willing to say its the fault of the new developers.

Whether or not you played the original Crash games is likely to have a big impact on how you view these games.  I think a fair question to ask is whether the trilogy is worth the $40 for those who do not have the nostalgia factor behind it.  I am not a member of the group so I can’t really answer that but I think it depends on the type of gamer you are.  The games have 75 levels and 15 bosses (plus bonus levels), which is a lot of content but can be fairly quick to go through if your only goal is beating the levels. However, if you’re an achievement hunter, I cannot think of many games that provide the combination of fun and complex challenges the the N. Sane Trilogy does.  The addition of relics to all three games is a big factor there.

On one level in particular, I spent close to four hours over a few play sessions just trying to get the platinum relic.  After about two hours, I finally finished the level without dying only to fall 0.11 seconds short.  Last night (as of the time I am writing this) I finally got the platinum relic, this time by 0.70 seconds, and felt so accomplished.

My precioussss

If you have played the original games then the questions are simple: did you like them?  Do you like significantly improved graphics?  Great!  Then you’ll be happy with the N Sane Trilogy.  It provides all the fun and frustration of the original trilogy with a few nice additions in a much more attractive package.  I’ve been so hooked by it that I have all but forgotten about Nex Machina, a game that Matt added to his short list of game of the year.

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