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- Supported Platforms: PlayStation 4
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Gameplay wise, these are basically one-to one recreations of the original trilogy. I'm sure there's probably some small tweaks here and there that I don't notice, but it feels the same as playing the original games. The only really noticeable gameplay change is that Crash 1 now saves after every level, which is a welcome change from the bizarre save system the PS1 version had. You can also use the analogue sticks now, and I found myself switching between the d-pad and the analogue sticks depending on the situation, which was useful. Being so faithful though, means that some of the less savory bits of the original level designs are still problem points here. This isn't so much a problem for Crash 2 (I haven't played either version of Crash 3, yet), but Crash 1 has some needlessly brutal levels, such as The Native Fortress, which is so cheap and full of fake difficulty I moved on to Crash 2 instead. This is no fault of the remaster, I had problems with these levels in the originals too, but coming from today's platformers it may be jarring for new players. Crash 2 is still a phenomenal game, and it doesn't so much have bad levels as it has little gotchas here and there that feel a bit cheap, such as a jump in one of the snow levels where you basically have to be off the ledge before jumping to make it, or some spots in the levels where you're running away from something where you just can't see an obstacle coming up and have to memorize the layout after a few failures. With that said, the parts that are great are still great. Crash is still a joy to move and play as, spin attacking enemies is still super-satisfying, most of the levels are pretty well designed, and the boss fights are fantastic.
The visuals are incredible. Every level is filled to the brim with as much detail as possible, and yet it stays completely faithful to the original artistic idea of Crash Bandicoot. Some pretty amazing lighting is on display and you can now see every hair on Crash's hide, which is impressive to look at. What really takes the cake though, is the animation. The original games were a lot more expressive than other PS1 games of the time, featuring some pretty advanced lip sync for their era, and the remaster team has taken that up a notch for the N. Sane Trilogy. Every animation, be it an idle, a victory pose, or the beautifully reworked cutscenes, is fluid and full of character, looking more like something out of an animated movie moreso than a video game. The sounds are all there as well, from the amazing music to Crash screaming WHOA and everyone's favorite, BOODABOOGA.
Overall, this is a great value, considering you get three full games in one package, each remastered with astounding care and attention to detail. Some aspects of these games haven't aged well, so newcomers may want to try it at a friend's house or wait for a drop, but if you're a lifelong fan of classic Crash, feel safe jumping right in.
All the same fun levels brought into the new age times of graphics in gaming!
While to note some levels have been slightly tweeked the producers left the more "classical levels" classic, and only updated the graphics
There's never been much of a story to the Crash Bandicoot games. If anything, one of the most surprising aspects of the trilogy was how they evolved. The first game is a basic "Save the damsel in distress," but unlike say... Princess Peach, the female bandicoot has no character or personality to speak of the way Peach has grown to develop one over the years. So it's surprising that in this one she actually does have flashes of personality (like punching out one of Cortex's henchmen in the opening scene). The second game went on to Cortex manipulating Crash to gather slave crystals for an invention and the third one revealed that it was an evil mask behind pretty much everything the whole time. They were basic, sure, but they made for fun games aimed at a young audience. It was a lot like enjoying cartoons than it was anything else. Ans sure enough the games had their comedic moments and cartoonlike appeal. All of that is kept in tact here. The stories were never good but no one was playing Crash Bandicoot for its storytelling. The way Crash Bandicoot presented itself, though, was fun and engaging. They absurd games that embraced their absurdity and hoped you would too.
In all of the games, Crash has a standard spin attack and a standard jump. But as the games progress he gets more moves such as a belly flop in the second game and a whole host of abilities by the third one. This can make starting with the first Crash game feel a little disjointed and limited. Once you get beyond the first Crash Bandicoot it's easy to see why it fell out of favor with fans more so than the other two. The first game is as basic as they come, even in terms of level design. Most stages are fairly short, basic and with basic enemies. One noteable change I do like that was made to the first Crash Bandicoot, however, is the ability to save anywhere. The original game you could only save upon collecting three tokens and completing the bonus round. If you failed the bonus round you lost your chance to save and the tokens DID NOT reappear. That's no longer an issue. Instead the bonus round is used much the same way that bonus rounds are done in the other two games. It's a chance to add crates to your grand total and get extra lives. Collecting all the crates in a levels earns you a gem which goes toward your completion percentage and will also showcase a secret ending. This is true of the other games as well.
The problem with the original Crash Bandicoot was that it was unusually difficult. Sometimes even unfairly so. Combine that with the fact that saving required you to succeed in the bonus round with no second chances and you have a game that was easily one of the hardest of its era. It's not really that different here. The game is still challenging but it's not quite as challenging as it once was, especially for those hoping to smash every box and collect every gem. Not only has the save system been changed up, but in the original in order to go through a level perfectly you also had to smash every box on the first attempt. Here any box you smashed before hitting a checkpoint box will remain smashed upon finding a checkpoint. These instances make the first Crash Bandicoot easier. Likewise, there is now a crate count so that you have an idea of how many boxes you have smashed. The first game also adds in time trials to collect relics and complete stages as fast as possible. All of these things were brought from the latter two games.
The first game easily gets the best improvements. The second and third games are hardly touched at all. Which is fine because they were the better games and already had a solid foundation. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, in particular is likely the best of the trilogy simply because of the leaps it made above the first one. In its original release in 1997 it was already better than the first first ditching the world map in favor of letting the player jump into different portals to go to each level. Likewise, in the warp rooms you could go and save your game at any time. That's still true here, but the game also auto-saves so it's hardly an issue. The levels also had more variety to them, greater challenges, and more intersesting things to do. Crash Bandicoot 2 had hidden stages and hidden portals that might take you back to previous stages. There were also lots of branching sections to keep you playing for a long time. The variety of enemies also encouraged players to experiment with Crash's new moveset. In the second game Crash got a belly flop and a slide. So on occasion there are enemies that Crash can't use his standard spin attack to defeat or jump on, but they can be defeated with a slide or a belly flop. There isn't much added to Crash Bandicoot 2 aside from time trials, but Crash Bandicoot 2 wasn't a game in need of several improvements.
Needless to say these additions made for a big leap in quality. So much so that Crash Bandicoot 3 didn't really offer a ton of new additions aside from certain vehicle segments and time trials in its original release. That being said it still has some of the most creative levels in the series, but it didn't quite as go as far as the second game in terms of gem collecting or challenge. In fact, the introduction of some of Crash's abilities made for a relatively easy game. Things like a high jump or an extended spin that also lets him cross chasms sometimes made the game far easier than it needed to be. Nothing did this more than the bazooka where getting through most challenges was simple because it could be done from a distance. Nevertheless the third game was nothing but a masterpiece in its own right.
Seeing all three games here is a treat. Everything has been rebuilt from the ground up. It still has its humor, still has great levels, but everything has been given a new coat of paint. And the games look rather amazing. They hold true to the style of the original games. To this day the original games still have a fantastic art style that, despite not being graphically superior to today's technology, make the games stand out. The remaster honors the style but makes it look better. There are a lot of games out there that were remade with better graphics, but where the art style was neglected in the process that despite being the same game, it can feel rather different (ex: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X). Here the style of Crash Bandicoot is still intact. This makes for a true visual upgrade rather than just a mere graphical one.
The best upgrade, however, is to the audio and sound. The sound effects in particular. The background music has been remastered and it's great. The original had good music to begin with, but the updated music here is also welcome. All the tunes sound familiar, just a lot better. It's the sound effects that are amazing, however. Where as before you might eventually not care for them, here it's hard to ignore how the sound of Crash's footsteps change depending on the surface he's walking on, or how some of the enemies make funny little noises. These tiny additions don't seem like much on paper, but experiencing them in gameplay gives the three games unrealized character that you might not have found in the original releases.
Of course the big issue with this remaster is that they might be too on the nose to their originals. There are certain things that the developers might've done well to update. In particular, a fixed camera doesn't really do well by most games in this day and age. There are moments in the games where a path might fork and you'll have to take one path down, but if you insist on smashing every box you'll have to run back up the other where the view is obscured. This makes it easy to accidently fall into pits you have no way of seeing if you're backtracking through these areas or to run into enemies you won't know are there until you hit them. Running forward this is no problem, but these forked moments actually come up quite often. Especially in the second and third games. It also feels like one may need to relearn the games, even if you played the original Playstation trilogy recently. The controls and movements also feel looser than they did in the original. While the original games had tight controls, relied heavily on precision jumping and timing, these remasters often have moments where the controls take some getting used to. They don't always feel as tight and that can lead to jumps that aren't properly timed. It's not that the controls aren't good. They are. The controls are literally the exact same controls as the original games. What it is to say, however, is that it is an adjustment because of the hardware they're running on. Once you get used to it, Crash Bandicoot plays smoothly. During that time, however, expect to have a lot of unexpected deaths or screw ups. The controls still function well, they just have a loose feeling. If you manage to adjust to this you'll be fine, but I'm willing to bet that some players will have a much harder time adjusting to this than others.
In spite of that, the three games run and play pretty well. If you were a fan of the original trilogy it's at least worth checking these games out and having some fun with them. Their age does, at times, show, but at least they have, for the most part, withstood the test of time.