I was only 5 years old when Crash Bandicoot spun his way onto the PlayStation in 1996 and became a likeable gaming mascot. The first Crash games (Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped) were developed by Naughty Dog (famous for their work on Uncharted and The Last of Us) and it’s their entries in the series that captured the character’s most memorable moments. Two decades later and I’m happy to report that all three titles are back with an almighty bang.
Nowadays, most developers aiming to remake an old license will simply give the graphics a polish and wrap it up for market. However, under the watchful eyes of a passionate studio named Vicarious Visions, the N. Sane Trilogy dismantles the original Crash Bandicoot games down to their bare framework and meticulously pieces them back together to reach today’s high standards. That means fresh voice work and music has been recorded, the controls have been refined and the graphics (including cutscenes) have been rebuilt from the ground up to support a glorious 4K resolution. To say that this trilogy is a simple remake would be a huge understatement, it’s closer to a reimagining.
Picking up the pad twenty years later has been both nostalgic and frustrating. I forgot how hard Crash Bandicoot used to be (especially the first game) and Vicarious Visions haven’t aimed to tone things down, either. If anything, the changes to character animation and jump physics have made them harder. For instance, if I made Crash jump on the spot whilst on the edge of a wooden plank in the original Crash Bandicoot, then he would stay in the same spot every time he landed. In this new version, Crash’s more ‘wobbly’ landing animation makes it more likely for him to fall off a tight ledge if the player isn’t precise. It’s all part and parcel of moving to a more advanced animation system and it may have made the first game a bit harder, but personally I like the extra challenge.
What has become crystal clear to me whilst replaying these games as an adult, is just how little I managed to complete of the first two titles when I was a kid. This collection hasn’t just been a nostalgic trip, it’s also been a chance to dive further into the adventures I loved as a kid but failed to complete due to either a lack of skill or patience – probably the former. Its hard-as-nails gameplay might be enough to turn even Bruce Banner green, but ultimately overcoming its challenges makes it all worthwhile in my books. This is 90s gaming at its best.