For about a year now, PS4 owners (like myself) have had the opportunity to relive the nostalgia once felt roughly 20 years ago. Now, that exclusivity is over and the rest of the gaming world has the opportunity to experience Activision and Vicarious Visions’ remaster of the classic trilogy, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch!
N. Sane Crash Bandicoot Remaster
If you’ve followed any of my writings, especially my E3 2018 coverage of Activision and Vicarious Visions preview for Future Tense, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Crash Bandicoot and his N. Sane Trilogy. You also know from my other musings that my Nintendo Switch has become one of my go-to consoles. Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to review Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, it was a no brainer to get it for Nintendo Switch. The result was a unique gameplay experience so addicting, I had a hard time putting it down to write this review!
For those of you unfamiliar with Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, it’s a complete remaster of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, revitalized by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision. The N. Sane Trilogy is an all-in-one game that includes updated versions of Naughty Dog’s 1996 Crash Bandicoot, 1997 Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and 1998 Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The controls of the game are essentially the same, utilizing mainly spin and jump abilities, with the new abilities to, crawl, slide, and high jump being included in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. However, it’s not entirely the same game.
Vicarious Visions’ remastered collection features glorious graphics, putting a modern spin to everyone’s favorite Bandicoot and all the lands he traverses. That includes the iconic Wumpa Islands, the various lands in the Warp Room, and of course the memorable characters that inhabit these places, like Coco (Crash’s sister), Dr. Neo Cortex, and the various bosses like the mobster rat Pinstripe Potoroo and the crazy Kangaroo Ripper Roo, among others. All of these well-known characters feature a smoother, almost figurine-like, artistry that make them feel fresh and new.
One of the other major updates for the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a factor that is vital to revitalizing a game for today’s times, audio. Everything from the squeal of Crash falling off the map to Aku Aku’s tribal chant to Crash’s spin to even the Xylophone-like tones of the music have been updated to crystal-clear quality. Additionally, many of the same voice actors from two decades ago returned to voice all three games to go along with remastered cutscenes, making the story even more enjoyable than before.
Graphically and auditorily, Vicarious Visions did a beautiful job with Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, but they also included new features to all three games that will make most Crash fans smile. For starters, the addition of Coco as a playable character in almost every level is an absolute gem. There isn’t a huge difference in movesets between the siblings, but it’s the inclusion of this smart, strong female character that makes the difference. Having Coco as a playable character can draw in a new crop of young female gamers and allow them to experience the series us veteran gamers fell in love with all those years ago. Additionally, Vicarious Visions also incorporated Time Trials across all three games, as well as, the ability to save manually and automatically and several well-placed in-game checkpoints. All features that were desperately needed.
Vicarious Visions’ meticulous attention to detail is part of what makes this game enjoyable, but what makes it addicting is the unrelenting challenge it brings. I found myself spending countless hours on the same levels, failing, and being greeted by Uka Uka’s (Clancy Brown) sheepish grin telling me, “Game Over”, in a mocking tone. That’s just on a few normal levels, too. So, just imagine what it’s like on the unforgiving Stormy Ascent and the brand new level Future Tense.
After being part of the preview with Vicarious Visions and Activision over, the first new level in two decades, Future Tense at E3 2018, the first thing I did when I hopped into Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on Nintendo Switch was jump into Crash Bandicoot: Warped and take the pedestal in the Warp Room to Future Tense.
Much like how it was on the preview, the world is brightly-lit with several obstacles and elements from throughout the trilogy. Future Tense seamlessly transitions from a back-camera view, in the beginning, to a side-scroller with several jumping and crouching puzzles that require perfect timing to get around the obstacles, as you’re pulled along a moving belt. There were times where I found myself trying to channel my inner speedrunner to complete certain obstacles. Often times I would succeed, only for Vicarious Visions to throw another obstacle I wasn’t ready for and once again Uka Uka would appear to mock me.
Future Tense will test you, it will frustrate you, but if you find your way through it, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, much like upon completing Stormy Ascent; a feat few have been able to do. In a lot of ways, Future Tense feels like a rival to Stormy Ascent. One is dark, while the other is light, but both are tough trials to overcome. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself hours upon hours working through the same parts, and jumping for joy when you finally arrive at an area you’ve never experienced. If a game can cause that kind of response, over a minimal accomplishment, you know it’s a must-play experience.
The Switch Effect
Experiencing Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on Nintendo Switch really was unlike anything I’ve previously experienced. In the past, when I’ve played any Crash Bandicoot game it’s been on a TV, while holding a PS1 or PS4 controller. It may seem like it would be such a small difference, but having the Switch’s mobile console screen so much closer to my face, made the game feel smoother, easier to control, rather than with a controller and a screen so far away from my face. Furthermore, the transition from the TV to the smaller, mobile screen cause zero degradation whatsoever, making it an even better experience.
Other Switch features, like motion controls, don’t have a place in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. You can detach the Joycons, prop up the screen, and play it on the go, but there really isn’t an advantage for doing that. That is, unless you’re going for a more challenging experience. Otherwise, if detaching the Joycons is more of your cup of tea, you might as well just play it on the TV.
Much like how it was last year for PS4, the price for Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is $39.99. As Macklemore says about MoPeds, “That’s a helluva deal!”, especially when you consider that you’re getting three high-quality platformers in one game $20 less than the price of a new AAA release you’re unsure will be good or not. At least with Crash, you know you’ll enjoy it and be challenged in the process.
The drawback for Switch owners could be in the size of the collection. For the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy to call your Switch home, you have to have about 5.2GB of your 32GB storage free. Compared to other Nintendo games that’s pretty weighted. Although, if you compare it to other re-releases, like (Insert Bethesda Game Here) 5.2GB is really nothing. Also, considering that it’s three games in one, made by a studio that cares enough to want to add more to it, 5.2GB is a paltry expense to own one of the most iconic platformers of all time.