By Adam Ouakli (@AdamOuakli)
Being a 90’s kid, if I were to list the top 3 things that I wanted in life to satisfy my need for nostalgia from a bygone era, it would look a little something like this:
1) Pokemon being real
2) Oasis reforming
3) Crash Bandicoot re-mastered
With number 1 probably being a more realistic expectation that number 2, it’s safe to rule them both out. That leaves us with number 3 on my list: Crash Bandicoot practically raised me. Since I got my first PlayStation at the age of 5, I’ve been playing the orange marsupial’s games – hell, I even used to have dreams that I was scaling the Native Fortress as a kid. It’s a game that, for me, has stood the test of time, a classic that will go down in history as one of the best trilogies every produced.
So it’s safe to say that the recent remastering of these three games, aptly titled the N.Sane Trilogy, was a very much anticipated event in the gaming sphere. They’ve had a total HD makeover and it truly shows: starting from the beginning, washing up on N. Sanity Beach again after all these years was special. I didn’t move forward in the level, I just sat for a few minutes taking it all in. It was beautiful. It is how I always dreamed a re-master of the game would look like – full of vibrant colours, amazing visuals, animations and detail like a modern cartoon and it blew me away.
Advancing in the level I noticed that even though the music has a fresher, clearer sound, it is still the basic original sound we know and love. The animations look and feel just like they should and Aku Aku, well, his “Wooga booga” had me emotional. The sound of breaking boxes, of collecting Wumpa Fruit, of jumping on a tortoise – everything is pretty much perfect. Naughty Dog who originally developed the Crash Bandicoot games in the 90s were not involved in making the re-masters, leaving the task to Vicarious Visions to bring Crash Bandicoot back into our lives, and they’ve done the originals and Naughty Dog proud.
All three games play very much like they used to as it’s a re-master not a re-haul. Personally I think this is how it should be; if too much was changed it wouldn’t feel like a proper Crash game. So far I’ve played through an awful lot of all three games and I’m absolutely loving it. I have seen countless people on social media complaining about how hard the game is, which confuses me a little. Yes, the game is tricky at times (Don’t get me started on levels like ‘Road to Nowhere’ and ‘The High Road’) but the majority of games out there will have tricky parts in them. If a game isn’t challenging it gets pretty boring pretty fast. I even read one review where the critic wrote that “the 3D throws off your depth perception” and that “the colourful designs on levels like ‘Hang ‘em High’ trick you into thinking there’s space to land on trampolines when there isn’t.” These are pretty petty complaints: the only substantial one that holds any real weight is the change in physics for Crash 1 which makes certain levels a bit more difficult than they should be.
Nine times out of ten, though, the game requires some precision and timing – when you don’t succeed at landing jumps, that’s not the game’s fault. Having completed these games before I was 10 years old, in addition to the fact that not much of the gameplay has changed from its original release, it’s odd for people to compare this to Dark Souls in terms of difficulty. Some people are either just bad at the game or have forgotten that there are several tricky levels and have lost a lot of patience now that they’re older. There have been some comments calling the game ‘monotonous’ and ‘only good for nostalgia’: well pal, if you think the game is boring then why did you buy a re-mastered version of the very same game? The games are extremely refreshing even two decades after their initial release which says a lot.
Despite the fact that a lot has remained very similar to originals, there are a few changes that are mostly welcomed. As well as a refined saving system, something that the original Crash game was sorely missing, and online leader-boards, players are now given the chance to play as our titular hero’s laptop wielding sister Coco. While she plays exactly like her big brother, it’s a nice addition which helps the trilogy to feel like you’re playing a more improved version of the game you played years and years ago.
One thing that must be said about this trilogy is that if you’re buying it solely for that nostalgia factor, you’ll be more than stuffed. However, newcomers may feel like these feelings for a bygone genre will wear off quickly, leaving them £35 lighter and with no real urge to fully complete the games. They’re arguably limited in content though with the time trials and gems, some of which are attached with some challenges, but others may feel like the campaigns are too short: altogether I’d say it only took a few days to complete all three titles. As I’ve mentioned though, this is only an issue for those who don’t intend on getting all they can out of this game: for those that do and want to get 100% (or more *hint* *hint*) then there’s more than enough to get your money’s worth.
Overall, this trilogy has next to no shortcomings, at least ones that didn’t also come along back with the games during their original release. Criticisms regarding clipping and such are overblown considering how rare an occurrence of this could be with the only real negative these games bring being the controls being not quite as fine tuned or polished as the beautiful visuals and sound design. Every minute of these three games I’ve enjoyed thoroughly and while they aren’t perfect, enough has been done to recreate these games as perfectly as possible.
The only other criticism I have: I’m now left with the urge for a remastering of Crash Team Racing. Please Vicarious Visions, do this and I can die a happy, happy man.