IT’S CRASH BANDICOOT!!
Back in the glory day of the nineties the Crash Bandicoot series had everything. It offered an exciting new mascot for the relatively new PlayStation console, it was bold, delightfully animated and the gameplay, level designs and the boss battles were simply superb in a time where 3D games were emerging the forefront of the industry. But like many things the turn of the century wasn’t too kid to our favourite dancing marsupial, after parting ways with Naughty Dog, Travellers’ Tales failed to truly capitalise on on what the former had moulded years prior with Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity and Radical Entertainment’s attempt at bringing Crash into the 21st century with Crash of the Titans and Mind Over Mutant fell unnoticed (because tribal tatts do no favours for anyone am I right?). But like other franchises a good way to build a better future is to look to the past and that’s exactly what Activision and Vicarious Visions have really driven home in amazing fashion with Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, the first 3 PS1 classics in one gorgeous package built from the ground up in GLOOOOOOORIOUS HIGH DEFINITION! Upon its announcement children of the nineties went into a frenzy and rightfully so.
The N.Sane trilogy delivers in practically every aspect the originals did all those years ago and Vicarious Visons did an incredible job with utilising the PlayStation 4’s capabilities in creating a beautifully crafted, lively and bold experience from a source material that at the time of their respective releases already looked staggering and everything has been amplified to the nth degree. The solid colours of the trees and dirt in the jungle levels are captivating, the snow levels are heart warmingly elegant, the underwater levels are still as graceful as ever and the fire and stones of the Aztec levels show off a heated and intense atmosphere.
This is complimented perfectly with the brand spanking new character models which look great. The facial expressions of Crash look zanier and more animated than the originals and the finer details in his fur show that the devs really wanted to go all out, and al l the supporting characters being brought into a new light is a breath of fresh air (the new rendering of Papu Papu’s arse crack is especially impressive) the all-out animation doesn’t do the villains many favours however not so much for Cortex as he does have a certain aura of comic relief about him but the 4K rendering doesn’t give antagonists like Uka Uka the intimidating presence that he had on the PS1, alongside this the revised voice acting is a nice touch and is still done well but I just feel it doesn’t hold the same depth as the originals (I’m knit picking I know, sorry). These features are all wrapped up with a wonderfully remastered soundtrack of the originals which drives the nostalgia factor up to 11 and brings you back to a time where the music in video games were straight up catchy, before the times of the full orchestras and Paul McCartney tie in singles and just left you with catchy little bits of music that constantly loop in your head.
Where the outlook has changed though the gameplay has pretty much stayed the same, while journeying through the three classics I was instantly taken back to playing them in my childhood, the challenge is still there, the dangerous jumps, the treacherous climbs and riding dinosaurs, polar bears and tigers are one things we all remember about this franchise and revisiting all of this in such a way is beyond electrifying, the level layouts remain untouched and the danger of rage quits are still there twenty years on, the one more try turning into ten more until you notice your lives are dangerously low is what this bygone era is all about. The boss battles are still among the most stimulating, crafty and memorable and a time goes on the perils on N.Tropy, Ripper Roo, Dingodile and Koala Kong come back like uninvited guests you’re actually glad to see and it’s funny that even for this Crash veteran these bosses still hold somewhat of a trial. Having all three adventures in one package shows how far the series progressed mechanically in its hay day, some players may see this as a warning sign of the earlier game looking pale such a proximity to the other two but personally it was a great experience seeing all of this come together.
A copy of Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy on the PlayStation 4 was purchased by the Reviewer.