QCF: Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy

hile there are dozens upon dozens of gaming franchises that are languishing in obscurity these days, none have quite sparked the sort of fiery demand that Marsupial Mascot Crash Bandicoot has. The once revered Sony icon had recently resurfaced as a cameo character in the latest Skylanders entry, and the fan service in response proved that plenty of folks had still held onto their memories of the edgy Jorts-wearing furball fondly, which didn’t go unnoticed by Activison or Sony.

Wisely banking off of the nostalgia of the Bandicoots earlier titles during his prime, the two companies had finally decided to pull the trigger, Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy, exclusively for the PlayStation 4, a remastered collection of the first three titles newly developed from the ground up by Vicarious Visions.

The question here however was never whether or not Crash Bandicoot could be brought back but rather, whether or not he SHOULD be—many of the charming elements of the series are also some of the same rough-edged quirks that relegate the games into being the clumsy 3D relics (pun gratifyingly intended) that they ultimately are.

While there are few conventions that haven’t aged well, and a few new glaring issues that weren’t there before, the trilogy still manages to iron out a lot of the wrinkles of the originals, delivering a wonderful compilation of the Bandicoot’s early outings that both fans, and new comers alike.

Interestingly, the trio of games originally developed by Naughty Dog was always known to be more of a knee-jerk reaction from Sony to pioneer their own exclusive brand of 3D platforming more so than ever being quality platformers in their own right. The concept of designing a game with three-dimensional movement and perspective in mind was still in its infancy at the time, leading to some factors like shoddy camera angles and poor depth-perception that lead to these earlier titles not aging so well.

Thankfully, Vicarious Visions found a way to refine all of these imperfections within the core 3D dynamics of the game without compromise the nostalgic ruggedness that defined them.

All of the reflexive-heavy obstacles and traps are here, and are still just as punishing as they were in their prime, if not more so with the tweaked jumping physics that Vicarious Visions implemented into the remakes. The precision involved is no longer about threading the needle but doing so with new physics to the jumping dynamics in the remakes, which Vicarious claims was implemented to retain the sense of difficulty from the original within the high-definition recreations of the game’s character models and stage environments.

The jumping is tweaked to where Crash will descend faster to the ground after hitting the apex of his jump with significantly less hang-time, and a shifted landing position from the previous point of takeoff, regardless of whether or not you’re moving while you leap, or jumping in place.

This new dynamic to the physics introduces an entirely new degree of timing and rigor needed to successfully navigate all of the game’s platform challenges. While the alteration may potentially betray the muscle reflexes of those who’re already familiar with the game’s platforming mechanics at first, the learning curve within the changes isn’t drastic enough to hurt the experience that it promises to deliver.

There are other changes to the titles that were done in hopes of refining some of the old hang-ups that plague the games back in their prime. Collision detection has been refined to a point where Crash’s hit-box is condensed more tightly around the frame of Crash’s model, affecting the elements surrounding a lot of the instant-kill traps and obstacles that demanded an admittedly ridiculous attention to detail like the boar chase stages in the first game and several other small touches of polish.

 Graphically speaking, the game is breathtaking. Every stage is meticulously recreated with updated designs that flesh out the sort of vision that original could have only hoped of aspiring to. Even the most nuanced of details have received the upscale treatment, whether it’s the tufts of Crash’s fur that dynamically move with each frame, or the immaculate lighting effects against the vivid colors of the game’s more exotic environments, the titles easily stands to be one of best looking platformers currently out to date.

Overall, Crash Bandicoot: The N Sane Trilogy is the definitive way to play the icon’s old-school outings from the 32-bit days, but it also stands to be one of the most lacking collections of its kind. The bundle adds little incentive for non-fans to check out the famous trio of games in an era where the games especially haven’t aged very well.

While the collection itself is mostly faithful to the PlayStation classics, it doesn’t offer much of anything else beyond a high-definition coat of paint and some minor tweaks, relying entirely on nostalgia to deliver any sort of appeal that can be had with these undeniably antiquated adventures. Sure, the addition of being able to play as Crash’s sister Coco is equal parts fan service, and progressive for anyone who’s either revisiting the platformers, or diving into them for the very first time with the update, but there’s no real meat to the set otherwise.

Still, you could do worse with forty dollars; just be mindful of what you’re in for with this package if you decide to buy into the hype.

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