It would likely be harder to find a PlayStation gamer that didn’t once own a Crash Bandicoot game, rather than finding one who did. This early game series was a staple of the PlayStation brand, creating an iconic mascot for the platform and single-handedly turning many of us into the gamers we are today. That’s why I, like many others, was so excited when during E3 2016, the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy was announced to be bringing the classic PlayStation games Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped into the visual glory of the current generation. I recently got to sit down with the Trilogy to learn about what has changed and what has faithfully remained the same.
There are three separate adventures here, but they will not be arranged into one homogenized mass. Each individual game will be its own isolated experience, just as if players were cycling out three separate games, giving each their proper space to be appreciated. Additionally, nothing is getting cut from any of the three experiences. Each game will have its full adventure intact, plus a few bonuses added in to bring the experiences up to speed with the modern day.
The first and most immediately noticeable upgrade is found in the visual design and fidelity. Developer Vicarious Visions designed the game using its own Alchemy Engine, built from the ground up to make the most appealing looking Crash games to date. Each blade of grass sways in the breeze, enemy animations are smoother than ever, and the vibrant colors honor the aesthetic of the original games. The developers made a particular note of the games’ new realistic hair physics used on Crash himself, a design format that made its way into other texture art throughout the experiences. The visuals don’t hit a tier of hyper-realism, as it would be off-putting in a cartoonish game like Crash Bandicoot, but the upgrades to each title’s visual design compliment them just enough to feel both fresh and familiar.
Another advancement of the older formula are time trial options added to almost every mission across the three games. Granted, time trials were already part of the third game, Warped, but now fans can enjoy the two earlier games with the same challenge. Some missions, like boss fights, won’t accommodate time trials in the Trilogy, but almost all the other levels will support this new way to play.
Apart from this, the core gameplay across the each experience remains primarily unchanged. The games still feature the linear and skillful platforming from both 3D and 2D perspectives, but improvements mainly come in the form of subtle, quality-of-life changes, such as reworking analog stick character movement to ensure control in both perspectives is as user-friendly as possible. Another example of such improvements are found in the aforementioned enemy animations, which now more clearly telegraph attacks to rid the games of some old combat ambiguity.
During my time with it, three missions were playable to get a feel for the Trilogy‘s visual and gameplay tweaks. I admit, it took a while to get back into the swing of platforming in the linear 3D space, but it would no longer be Crash if the developers starting digging into its most core systems. Racing challenges were another returning feature playable in the demonstration, and like the standard levels, they hit the right nostalgia notes for those willing to come to terms with the older style of control.
Crash games come from a simpler time in gaming, and just like the originals, the levels aren’t overburdened with complexity. Missions are about honing your platforming skills and scooping up all the collectibles you can. This may not be deep enough for some gamers of the modern age, but it stays true to the old games that people fell in love with.
When rumors were swirling around last year about a new Crash Bandicoot game coming down the line, many were hoping for a brand new installment, but Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy seems to do the series justice. Who knows if this won’t pave the way for something down the line, but in the meantime, the remastered experiences look better than ever. While the additional content is slim, too many changes could have stolen some of the old charm. Returning fans will know exactly what they’re getting with Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, and the gettin’s good.
Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is a PlayStation 4 exclusive dropping on June 30.