Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: June 30, 2017
ESRB: Everyone, PEGI 7
Players: 1 (Single Player with Online Leaderboards)
Available Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Here’s a fun fact: It has been 21 years since the first Crash Bandicoot came out. Crash Bandicoot 1 was released on PlayStation 1 in 1996, Crash 2 in 1997 and Crash 3 in 1998. All three games were originally developed by Naughty Dog, the studio that more recently made the Uncharted series and The Last of Us.
With the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy you get a visual remaster of the first three Crash Bandicoot games for (less than) the price of one. It is being developed by a different studio, Vicarious Visions.
I cannot think of another remaster that made such an immense leap in graphics. There’s something fascinating about playing a game three console generations later with modern day visuals — it’s a testament to how far gaming and technology have come in such a relatively short period of time. Intriguingly, the gameplay hasn’t changed. All levels, enemy placements, secrets, item unlocks etc. are the exact same.
Officially, the trilogy is being promoted as a remaster on the front cover of the box art. Which is normally just a visual overhaul of an old product, but in the case of the N. Sane Trilogy some adjustments and additions were made. Each game has its own trophy list (3 platinum trophies total), time trials, online leaderboards, and the alternate character “Coco” have been added. A few levels have plus/minus one breakable box and Crash Bandicoot 2 includes a completely new item, called the “Speed Shoes”. It is rewarded for beating the final boss and lets you run much faster (did not exist in PS1 version).
The online leaderboards are a nice touch. They keep track of your best times in speedruns and let you view times of friends, random players, and the world record. A bunch of trophies are tied to speedruns as well.
One could argue that the Crash Bandicoot games were way ahead of their time because now, 21 years later, they are still perfectly enjoyable by today’s standards. The concept is simple: you run through levels as a funny looking bandicoot with the goal of breaking as many boxes as possible, collect Wumpa Fruit for extra lives and reach the end of the level. There are traps and enemies everywhere. Some people are calling it the “Dark Souls of Platformers” because it is absolutely challenging and unforgiving just like the Dark Souls franchise. Each death sets you back to the last checkpoint and losing all lives has you restart the entire level. Be prepared to die and replay the same sections a lot. This repetitiveness may be a turn-off for some players, but it’s the same with any other platformer. Especially the first game is tough due to clunky controls. The second game is a bit easier and has more control options. The third game has lots of abilities (such as a Fruit Bazooka) and is by far the easiest.
My favorite is Crash 3, then Crash 2 and Crash 1. Crash 3 is the best looking, has the best controls, the most diverse levels and lets you use different abilities. Crash 2 is solid in every way. Crash 1 didn’t age too well. Some of the levels (e.g. “The High Road”) are a pain to play, let alone to speedrun without dying.
Many players claim that the jumps feel off. I didn’t notice this so much in the second and third game, but in Crash 1 I definitely do. Accurate jumps are hard to pull off. Sometimes Crash is sort of “sliding” off of objects. Especially for speedruns it can be frustrating. It’s a matter of practice through repetition. Repeat the same mistake so many times that you stop doing it.
One thing that stood out to me right away was the slow loading. Platformers need to be responsive and have fast loading, otherwise they are just annoying. There’s no restart button (except in time trials), so you got to quit out of a mission and reload it from level select. This takes a minute of loading! These games absolutely need a restart button. For example, there are motorcycle races in Crash Bandicoot 3 and if you mess up once it’s impossible to win the race. So you have to quit the mission and reload it which is not player friendly and puts you in a minute of loading cycles. They implemented a restart button for time trials, but not for normal level playthroughs. This makes no sense whatsoever and is inconvenient.
As a hardcore trophy hunter I’m happy to see a platinum trophy for each individual game. They may be rated E for Everyone, but make no mistake about it — the platinums are challenging and require maximum completion. You must speedrun all levels for the gold relics (depending on how fast you are there is a sapphire, gold or platinum relic). Breaking all boxes is also a requirement. Each game takes roughly 20 hours to fully complete and platinum (around 60 hours for all three). This is highly skill dependent. You might be able to pull it off in 15 hours, or if you struggle with the platforming genre they could be unobtainable platinums. I rated Crash Bandicoot 1 an 8/10 difficulty in my Trophy Guide.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
+ Cool level designs with a lot of variety. Was among the best platformers back in its days and still is today.
– Clunky controls (especially in Crash Bandicoot 1).
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Story: Not applicable (not rated) – there’s no “story” to speak of, just some arcade-style levels one after the other with no cutscenes or story in between.
Multiplayer: Not available (not rated)
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
+ Most impressive visual improvement! The upgrade from PS1 to PS4 is eye-popping.
– Slow loading times.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
Really great value for $39.99 (3 full games). New content (Time Trials & New Playable Character in Crash 1 + 2, Speed Shoes in Crash 2, Trophies for each individual game with 3 Platinums total).
*Rates how much fun the Platinum / 1000 Gamerscore is to achieve: Are trophies fun to do? Do trophies restrict freedom of gameplay? Missable trophies? Multiple playthroughs required? Luck-based trophies? Pointless farming/grinding? Glitched Trophies? Are stats/trophies tracked correctly?
Crash Bandicoot 3 is the easiest, Crash Bandicoot 2 in the middle, and Crash Bandicoot 1 the hardest. The main problem is that in the remaster Crash “slips” off ledges more easily than in the original. Some levels are infuriatingly difficult and even unfair (especially in Crash 1). The difficulty is not the issue, the bad controls are what’s off-putting in the pursuit for triple-platinum.
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
Visually, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is the most impressive remaster I have ever seen! The leap from PS1 to PS4 graphics is truly fascinating. You get three already awesome games made even better – including new bonus content – for only $39.99. That’s a really great deal you shouldn’t miss.
Played on PS4 Pro with Patch 1.01. A free review copy was provided. I have beaten Crash 1, fully completed Crash 2 & 3 and earned their platinum trophies.
While you’re here, why not check out the trophy guides? See estimated difficulty and time to platinum ratings:
- Crash Bandicoot 1 Remaster Trophy Guide
- Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Trophy Guide & Roadmap
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped Trophy Guide & Roadmap