The Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is the latest in a long list of classic Playstation titles brought back for the PS4 generation. How does this selection of games that’s two decades old hold up?
I always found it surprising that Crash hadn’t been brought back for a newer generation. He was one of the few characters exclusive to the original Playstation that really made a mark, but he kind of vanished for a long time – reappearing in Skylander Imaginators last year for a brief cameo. Now, Skylanders developer Vicarious Visions is releasing a remastered compilation of the first three games in the franchise – after Naughty Dog took care of development in the PS1 days. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t seen a reboot earlier – Naughty Dog is now firmly attached to Sony, whereas Crash is an Activision brand. Or perhaps we’ll never know… either way, we’re glad he’s back.
Aside from a few small tweaks to the gameplay (most importantly, a more forgiving save system), the games in the N.Sane Trilogy are all faithful reproductions of the original titles – but with a heavy layer of paint coated over them. Character models, objects and backdrops have all received significant upgrades – and cutscenes have been completely redone, as well as the audio/voiceover work. I didn’t fully appreciate the upgrade myself until I looked at some PS1 Crash footage, but that probably has more to do with my memory making classic games appear better looking than they were than anything else.
Having said that, I would have believed it if someone had told me that this trilogy package was running on a PS3 and not a PS4 – the Ratchet & Clank trilogy for the PS3 sports similar quality visuals, but the relative jump from the source material is much greater here. Understandable, since that trilogy came from the PS2 days.
Crash’s age shows in some of its design through – which can feel dated at times. The level design in the platforming sections is consistently excellent, but some of the racing/vehicle-based parts of the game feel floaty and unrefined. While the 2D platforming sections are a nice nod to the past, they don’t come close to what we’ve seen from that genre in the past five or even ten years. Here, nostalgia wins over pure quality – while Crash is also a challenging platformer, don’t expect Rayman-like quality. The 3D platforming sections hold up best, and luckily that’s the majority of the game.
Looking at all three games in the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, there is a consistent level of quality and delivery that makes for a well-rounded package and great value for money. Depending on how eager you are to go after collectibles, you’re looking at 15 to 30 hours of gameplay here. These games may show their age, but as far as early 3D platformers go they are three of the better examples out there – and they’ve never looked better than this.