Those are not apples…
Crash Bandicoot was a game cemented in its own time. By today’s standards it would have felt limited, but nostalgia is a heck of a drug. I was a huge fan of the series when it launched on the original PlayStation, and was sad it never got the rebirth it so rightly deserved. Vicarious Visions has remedied that (in a sense) with the N.Sane Trilogy. This rebuilding of the first three games does a great job of rekindling my memories of the series, while also introducing a whole new generation to the wacky marsupial.
Activision seems to be of two minds when it comes to remasters. Either crap out an up-rezzed version of a 360/PS3 game, or go whole-hog and really put in the work. The N.Sane Trilogy is certainly the latter. Vicarious Visions has rebuilt all three games taking advantage of new hardware. The end result is a beautiful package that is well worth the $40 asking price.
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
When I say Vicarious Visions recreated these games, I meant it. This is not some slick upscaling or high resolution passes, this is re-working the entire trilogy. Each game now boasts immense detail. Lush foliage, gorgeous water, and spectacular lighting really showcase these old games. It almost feels like a new experience at times. On PS4 Pro we even get an upgraded resolution, and the game looks fantastic running on a 4K TV.
While the exterior has been enhanced, the underlying game itself remains mostly unchanged. Sure I can now play the game with an analog stick, but the hit boxes and mechanics remain mostly untouched, for better or worse of course. Some of the platforming in these games is difficult, both in part to the design, but also the controls at times. Crash dies by barely touching an enemy and that can get frustrating. Vicarious Visions remedied some of that with a better save system that allows players to track progress in between each level, but make no mistake, this is still a very challenging game.
Not all is lost though. The developers have made some changes to some enemies making them more bearable. The enhancements are subtle though, and for anyone that only played the games casually when they released, it will feel unnoticeable.
Returning to the trilogy also exposes my ignorance as a child. It also demonstrates how wholly unique each game truly was. The first game remains the weakest and most uninspiring of the bunch. It relies on a few simple mechanics and repeats them ad-nauseam. The second game is by far the best in the series. It seems to strike a balance between what works, while also improving on so many levels and adding in its own flavor. Warped falls flat due to its reliance on too many vehicle segments, which also come with plenty of frustrating controls.
The N.Sane Trilogy is the epitome of what is right with the gaming industry. Seeing Activision bring back a fan-favorite game, and giving it the proper work it deserves is awesome. The price of $40 for all three games is a bargain, and this isn’t just a quick and dirty port, Vicarious Visions really retained what made these games so special to us all those years ago. I really wish Crash Team Racing was included, but there is always hope it comes later down the line. Now about that Jak and Daxter remaster…
Review copy of game provided by publisher.