Going Fur-ther Beyond Death: Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy Review
I’m happy to say that the worst part of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is the marketing. The first of course being the “Fur-K” and the other I’ll get into later. After completing all three games, I can say that these serve as a great reminder of why I loved crash. This Trilogy is a great callback to the originals, which while frustrating, are still fun. So let’s dive into why this trilogy drives me N. Sane.
So all three games in the Trilogy look great. Vicarious Visions did a great job of giving the series the facelift it needed, while still staying faithful to the original. They lovingly recreated all three games from the ground up, and I couldn’t be happier with the way the game looked. The levels in each game look almost the same, which is amazing. The fact they didn’t make any real changes visually except upping the quality, was a great move that really allowed the nostalgia to flow.
I did enjoy the little updates that they did make to the levels to help distinguish them from each other though. The best example I can think of is in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the two jungle levels, Turtle Woods and The Pits, are changed slightly to be more distinguishable. By that, I mean that the Turtle Woods level is raining but the The Pits level takes place at sunset. Little touches like that are nice and a fun way to distinguish levels without taking away really anything of the original levels.
The sound for each game is great. Crash Bandicoot, in particular, blew me away. I always remembered that soundtrack in that game being more about ambiance than anything, but here it has been given the boost to be proper background music. All the music in the game sounds like it belongs in the game. I know the original composer for the three games did not come back to do the sound for this game, but it’s hard to tell he didn’t. All the songs sound and feel Crash, which is all I was hoping for.
I typically just lump this section in with the gameplay, but I felt with the slight controversy about the N. Sane Trilogy that it deserved its own section. People have been complaining and talking about how hard the trilogy, specifically Crash Bandicoot, is. If you’ve been on the internet, you’ve probably seen the memes comparing it to the Souls series, my inspiration for the title of this article.
The truth is, the games are harder because of the new mechanics of the game. Vicarious finally confirmed that the game was built from the ground up using a new physics and collision system. This is why Crash’s jump feels “off” or “broken,” which is what I thought when I first played it. This is why you will slide off ledges and why enemy collisions seem a little funky.
In the statement acknowledging the new systems, Vicarious said that old players will have to unlearn their muscle memory, yes the statement specifically said “muscle memory.” Normally this would be okay, but the game was advertised as just a “Fur-K” version of the originals. It banked on nostalgia and advertised that everything would be the exact same, except the graphics. That’s the problem at the heart of the matter.
We were given something different when we expected something the same. Besides the “Fur-K” thing, that’s why the marketing was bad. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way onto the gameplay.
While yes, Coco can be played in the first two games now, she plays exactly like Crash. She just has some different animations that don’t seem to affect anything. So this section will apply to both of them.
Additionally, time trials were added to the first games. It was a fun addition that definitely livens up the first two games a bit. I welcome them as I struggle to get platinum on every level.
It plays. That’s really about how I feel about the gameplay of this one. The new physics and collision system really just leave the entire game feeling “off.” The new engine makes Native Fortress, Road to Nowhere, and The High Road significantly harder to navigate and complete. I slipped off so many ledges during these stages. The High Road also contains a jump that, due to the new physics, you can’t make if you lose your momentum. Which really sucks.
Admittedly, I get this feeling because I played the original. Taking my muscle memory out of the equation, it plays like a Crash game. The jumping is meticulous, the spin is tight, and Slippery Climb is still a pain. The fact only colored gems require all boxes and no deaths is an excellent addition to the game. It’s a nice middle ground between the old game and the new game. It makes getting clear gems easier while keeping the hard parts for colored gems.
Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back
This one feels almost exactly the same as the original. The new engine did get me a couple of times, specifically getting to the secret warp in Air Crash, but it felt much better than Crash 1. The slide never gave me any trouble, the jumping felt better, and the spin was still good. It was definitely an upgrade and probably the best game in the set. It really strikes a middle ground between the difficulty of Crash Bandicoot and the variety of Warped.
Speaking of variety, the polar bear did feel much better to ride. The controls felt a bit tighter than the original. I feel like it was an improvement. I was overall delighted with how this game felt.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped
This game feels the best of the three. I don’t remember a single time where anything funky happened because of the new engine. All of the controls in this one felt better, except the Jet Ski missions. The motorcycle still felt terrible, but not as bad as the original; even Pura felt more responsive. The underwater levels are still underwater levels, but even in the swimming controls, there was a noticeable improvement. The only downgrade was the Jet Ski, which was much looser than the original. It didn’t turn nearly as sharply as the original and really felt awful in a lot of situations.
The jumping feels the best in this game. This game the physics engine worked perfectly, and I never called BS because of the engine in this game. It was also by far the easiest of the three games. The way the platforming felt in this game, made me wish there were more classic Crash levels in it.
I feel there were a lot of stuff that was missing that they should have done. The loading screens were really bare and definitely could use something other than Aku-Aku and a hint. Something fun like the number of boxes smashed, or gems collected would have been a nice way to liven it up. Also, a quick restart would be fantastic. You got it if you did time trials, but a level restart is needed. You have to exit to the world if you die on a level where you need a death route or can’t die, which sucks. A level restart would go a long way.
The N. Sane Trilogy, while feeling a bit different, really captures the feeling of all the old Crash games. It’s definitely a model for other from the ground up remasters to follow. While a few changes were made, most were good changes. There were some missed opportunities to add some things, but it doesn’t really detract from the game. If you like Crash or platformers, it’s definitely a must buy. Also, it’ll be hard to find anything with this much content for $40.