Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

Crashback.

Back when Naughty Dog was still a fledgling studio, it took a gamble on Crash Bandicoot – a 3D character-based platforming game that, for many, would set a golden standard for the emerging genre, spawning one of PlayStation’s most iconic mascots.

Activision’s N. Sane Trilogy looks to recapture that magic of the nineties, rebuilding the first three Crash Bandicoot games from the ground up with a complete visual overhaul and one or two subtle alterations. With Vicarious Visions at the helm, there was never any doubt the project was in safe hands, having already worked on previous Crash games and, while it’s not for everyone, the Skylanders franchise, which has benefited hugely from the team’s involvement over the years.

Put simply, what you see is what you get: three PlayStation classics remade in 4K for returning fans and newcomers alike. Everything, from patrol patterns of enemies down to the distance between each gap you  leap over, has been accurately recreated with equal parts passion and precision. Dumbing down Crash’s brand of platforming action to make it more accessible could have been a tempting prospect for Activision, but thankfully that isn’t what’s happened here.

Although some sections feel a tad easier than in the original games, that’s simply due to having more detail on-screen. There’s massive improvements to character models, lighting, and texture work and it  all helps when timing jumps and judging distances. Part of what made Crash Bandicoot so challenging back in the day was its primitive, jagged 3D visuals, sending players to their demise for misreading the tiniest details.

That said, those levels that had you weeping into your wired DualShock all those years ago are just as punishing here. Crash’s debut is by far the toughest of the three games, mainly thanks to its sparse checkpoints and love of floating platforms. There’s a slight stiffness and lack of momentum in the bandicoot’s jump animation that will often frustrate as you slip down a crevice for the umpteenth time.

Levels such as the infamous High Road are deliciously brutal and will put even the most ardent fans of the genre through their paces. The placement of certain enemies and obstacles is definitely cheap in some parts, though can’t be faulted. Not without criticising the PlayStation originals.

Instead of simply making levels easier, Vicarious Visions has found a great yet small compromise. Continually fail a platforming section and a checkpoint crate will appear earlier than expected. Similarly, if you’re getting pulverised by the same boss or enemies, you’ll start spawning with an Aku Aku power-up. Without fundamentally changing the game, these little boosts help those that just want to beat the trilogy instead of mastering it. For the latter crowd, there’s plenty of reason to go back and revisit each level. Smashing every crate, running time trials and bossing stages without losing a life will quickly become an obsession for some, doubling or even tripling their potential playtime.

With or without 4K, N. Sane Trilogy looks fantastic, carrying the same punchy vibes of those first three Crash games. As touched on before, environments pack in way more detail, especially those areas covered in foliage. The characters look great too, including Crash, Coco, and Cortex, as well as the trilogy’s secondary cast. Many of these familiar faces are also brought to life through newly created cutscenes and recorded dialogue. For this long-time fan of the series, it’s the perfect amount of modernisation, staying true to the original games without the need for hyper-realistic visuals.

What’s Good:

  • Retains and enhances everything we loved about Crash Bandicoot
  • Goes well beyond a simple remaster
  • Looks and sounds excellent

What’s Bad:

  • The original Crash can feel cheap in places.

As far as remakes go, you can’t get any better than this. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is exactly how fans envisioned it – an unadulterated celebration of a PlayStation pioneer. With such a weight on their shoulders, Vicarious Visions have pulled it off with such diligence, infused with a streak of their own creativity. Then there’s Naughty Dog original  efforts, of course. Even those only acquainted with Uncharted and The Last of Us can appreciate how the studio first made its name, and the journey from Crash Bandicoot to Warped is one of continued innovation. Some two decades later, it’s great to see that some things never change.

Score: 9/10

Version Tested: PS4 Pro

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

17 Comments

  1. I have wanted this for years. I’ve got 100% on all three games (and CTR) more times than I can count. Can’t wait to get stuck into the remaster.

  2. Never played any of these, and this game wasn’t on my radar until reading this review.

    Sounds good!

  3. Got a free weekend (no wife, no kids!), so either getting this or Micromachines. Review for that incoming? Need help making my mind up!

  4. My copy dispatched today, woo!

    • Amazon said mine dispatched yesterday. I was hoping that might mean it’d be here today, but looks like I’ll have to hold out until tomorrow. Bring on the 3rd big PlayStation throwback of June after Tekken and Wipeout!

  5. just bought a copy in Asda. Didn’t think it was out until tomorrow?

  6. Just saw the video comparing it with the original on another, less reputable website. It certainly looks nice.

    They do spend about 1/4 of their article moaning about it not being 60fps, and say that the first game is too hard, or “unforgivingly difficult in a way that simply isn’t much fun”. But then you see the video and realise they’re just rubbish at games, obviously. I’m fairly sure the idea was to collect the fruit, not avoid as much of it as possible.

    • Crash Bandicoot “unforgivingly difficult”?

      Were they using both hands?

    • It wasn’t by that hack, Chris Bores aka the Irate Gamer was it? Because that sounds rather like something he would do.

      Or IGN. If it’s IGN, man, i gotta lower my standards for them. Well, even more lower.

      • No, it was one of the Digital Foundry people. Who obviously aren’t gamers, just obsessed with things that don’t really matter. Like pixel counts, the number 60, “frame pacing” issues nobody would actually notice, and how much money is in the envelope MS have given them this week.

        Another review of it gave a 6/10 on the grounds that it’s exactly the same game from 20 years ago. Which is entirely the point of it, isn’t it? Oh, and it’s too hard.

        Probably the same people who were claiming docking in Elite Dangerous was difficult, which I was dreading until my obsession with the game started this week. It’s not difficult, it’s kind of trivial. How they’d cope with 30+ year old original Elite, I don’t know. That was difficult.

        We need more games from 20+ years ago being remastered and left exactly as challenging as they were back then. Then we’ll see whose opinions we can trust.

  7. On a different note, are you guys aware of the psn account ban going on? It’s affecting those who have used paypal for a transaction recently. Unfortunately I am one of the unlucky ones!

    • We’re aware of people having problems with PayPal in the past due to chargebacks. Sometimes users will attempt to buy games/DLC then use chargeback to get a refund which leads to an obvious ban. This sounds like a PayPal error, however. We’ll hopefully have more concrete details soon.

      • It’s into the thousands I believe mate. Only affecting uk customers. Kotaku has the lead story on it.

  8. Just picked mine up from Tesco – £27.99 if anyone’s interested, seems really cheap to me :-)

  9. Remember when games were difficult? Properly stuck on the first Crash game currently.

    Also, remember when games used to sell out? Local Smyths, Asda and Tesco all sold out of copies.

  10. This is a great review. Other sites moaning that it’s too hard and just remake really pissing me off. A lot of time and effort was clearly put into it making it far more than remaster but not an actual re make. I’m not that old but I do forget how hard some PS1 games are (screw Driver 2) and I think there need to be more remasters of this quality!

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