Review: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

Reviving an old brand is a very thankless job. Not only do you have to adapt the often very archaic production to more modern realities, but you also have to be careful not to fall for the loyal fans of the brand. Companies can follow the line of least resistance and create a port quickly, without much effort, counting on quick income, feeding on the sentiment towards a well-known brand. Crash Bandicoot is a brand that has crowds of fans around the world. Originally created by the legendary Naughty Dog, it went to Activision. After years of not entirely successful productions, the time has come for a refreshed version of the original trilogy from PlayStation. Did the Vicarious Visions team manage to recreate Crash’s adventures?

The Crash Bandicoot trilogy is a series of games that started Naughty Dog’s career in earnest. It was through the work on these games that Sony became interested in the studio, which soon bought them. The brand is now in the hands of Activision and Vicarious Visions has prepared a real Remake. We are not dealing here with a remaster. The whole game was rewritten, because as it turned out, the developers did not have access to the original source code. And I must admit that they did a great job.

The first thing we notice is a completely new graphic design. The whole thing looks great and looks amazing. The stages were reproduced very faithfully. Old folks will immediately feel at home. The game has never looked better. What used to be just 2D background art is now a beautifully modeled 3D building. The character of Crash looks great too. The game has gained a new look that suits it very much. At the same time, the atmosphere of the original has been preserved. PlayStation has always been impressed with the facial expressions and gestures of characters and in N. Sane Trilogy it is just as well. All cutscenes have been faithfully transferred with only slight changes. Thanks to the new setting, it looks like a high-budget animation. A lot can be said about the graphic design, but a picture is worth more than a thousand words. I encourage you to read the gameplay, gallery and special Digital Foundry material that shows the differences between the original and the new version.

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It is worth emphasizing – Vicarius Visions approached the subject seriously and with appropriate respect for the brand. They gave very faithfully what we played when we were young. They kept the individual character of each of the scenes. There were no changes here by force, only necessary corrections. The biggest change is the writing system, especially in the first installment. Originally, to save the game, you had to get 3 tokens unlocking a bonus stage, at the end of which we could save our game state. It was an unnecessary complication. Naughty Dog alone improved this in two and three, in which we could do this manually at any time in the hub connecting the levels. Now only the auto save option has been added, which saves our progress after each stage. However, if you are purists, you can turn this option off at any time.

Changes took place in the mechanics and physics of the characters’ movement. Each installment of the series was different in this respect, so the creators decided to standardize the whole thing. I understand such a trick, because presenting three different ways of moving for each part would probably be a bad idea. It was decided to use the mechanics from the last part of the trilogy. And it causes some problems, unfortunately, especially in the first installment. This one has always been considered the most difficult of the series, but now it is even more difficult. The difference is min. on the fact that in order to make a long jump we have to gain momentum. Coupled with the platforms that are designed with pixel precision, this makes for quite an explosive mix. In some moments it turns out that without gaining momentum it is impossible to jump from platform to platform. In addition, there is a slightly different collision and environment detection, which means that Crash slides off the edges of the platforms much more often, while in the original game he stood there as if nothing. That’s why the first part of Crash not only was difficult originally, but is now doubly difficult. Further on it is better, because the levels are designed for a different motor skills of the character. Two and three are a walk in the park, compared to one.

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The games themselves also differ from each other. You can see that Naughty Dog has been learning the trade for years. The first edition is quite thematically hermetic. Most of the boards are variations on the Pacific islands, jungles, caves. There is more variety in subsequent editions. In the third installment, you cannot complain about boredom at all, because we are swimming in the depths of the ocean, racing on a motorcycle or flying by plane.

The creators decided to add some interesting novelties. First of all, Coco Bandicoot, Crash’s sister, is now playable in all three versions. Previously, it appeared only in selected levels in the third part. Now we can switch between siblings. Coco’s character moves exactly like Crash, so there aren’t any major differences between them. We can play Coco in all platform boards. We will not use it during fights with possums or, for example, in stages on a motorbike.

Another novelty is the time challenge mode, which was originally only available in the last installment. Now we can run all stages on time. Again, there is the same problem as with the character movement mechanics – the boards in the first and second installments were not designed for Speedruns, so running in them in time can be tedious and is definitely more difficult than in the third installment.

A lot of people complain about loading times in the game. And while I can agree that the loading time when starting the game or going to the main menu is really cumbersome, the loading times for individual levels are much shorter. I understand that if someone repeats a level many times, these few seconds can accumulate for quite a long time looking at the loading screen, but I still think that loading is not as bad as some argue.

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The team from Vicarious Visions managed to proudly revive the Crash Bandicoot brand. Old veterans should be pleased. They received a refreshed version of the childhood hit. In my opinion, the creators approached the topic with due respect for the source material. New additions in the form of time trials or playable Coco are only additions, but it’s nice that developers wanted to add them. Thanks to N. Sane Trilogy, new generations of players can fall in love with Crash and see for themselves what their dads were playing at their age. I highly recommend it, because there are really few such games. I think Naughty Dog is pleased with the N. Sane Trilogy Naughty Dog. And that’s probably the best possible recommendation.

Portal rating: 9