- Cartoon Violence
- Comic Mischief
Video game mascots used to be all the rage back in the day (around the 80’s and 90’s). But, as the adage goes: that was then; this is now- these iconic characters are not immune to the sands of time. Much like MTV, these lovable videographic figures may still be in existence, but their appreciation value is limited to the generation that they were born in. That is, the younger generation does not realize how influential and different they used to be. In the gaming industry of old, game mascots sold systems and, in turn, the games that they were featured in. It all started with Nintendo and a certain Italian plumber, before Sega came up with Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991 as a rival for Mario. By the time Sony finally had their own mascot in Crash Bandicoot (1996), the mascot wars were ending and the emphasis on game mascots fading. I would be amiss to not mention that by the time Sypro came around in 1998, the wars were officially over and mascots were not selling consoles anymore. Now twenty-two years later, the original trilogy is going to be on a Nintendo console for the very first time through the release of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
I personally was never a big home console gamer outside of the Super Nintendo until the Playstation 2 as I was primarily a handheld- well… Pokémon– player when I was younger. This meant I never played a Crash Bandicoot game and only one Spyro game, which I believe is Spyro: Year Of The Dragon. Ergo, this archetypal marsupial collection (and the upcoming Spyro Reignited Trilogy) was made especially for me: someone who has always wanted to truly play the two series, but never got the chance to in their youth. With Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy now also on the Nintendo Switch, it brings the platformers onto a handheld console which I have always said the genre preforms best on. So how do the remaster versions of the first three, and many consider only, games in the series fare in 2018?
Pretty damn well, actually. Being remastered from the bottom up really makes the games feel fresh and current, plus it helps the collection stand on its own in the current gaming landscape. While there are some points when in the overworld of the first game where the graphics feel flat and blurry, it is not enough to distract from the game or raise any red flags. With that said, when the player is in the levels of the first game and throughout the entirety of the other two games, the character model for Crash and Coco are fantastic with the added touch of their very emotive faces. The subtle look back of the already scared face when being chased by a boulder and the grin and thumbs up when about to ride an animal are just two of my favorite facial expressions shown in the game. Then, if the player leaves Crash or Coco alone without moving them, after a bit they will entertain themselves in their unique ways that is humorous and cute.
And while there are no technical hiccups to be experienced from our time with the game, there are some minor issues the player will experience. Even with the volume turned all the way up, the cut screen volume is on the low end in handheld mode. This works itself out in actual gameplay, but in the later games where this is more of an occurrence it is a minor gripe unless players use headphones. Then there is how Crash and Coco feels in their actions, which is very floaty and slippery. The latter is likely due to the hitboxes around the models being rounded off instead of the squared hitboxes from the original games. This ramps up the difficulty tenfold and causes some jumps that looks easy to actually be really difficult at times. When precision is key, as it is in platformers, this can cause players to feel the game is playing unfair to them. However, the way the later games are presented helps make up for this.
As nice as playing the games all the way through in order feels, the later games feature quality of life improvements that makes the overall impression much more favorable for them. One of these improvements is actually a subtraction from the first game and that is the removal of the missed boxes animation. After a level in the first game, boxes would crash onto of Crash/Coco’s head for each one you missed in the level. Not only was this annoying, it took a lot of time to get through if the player missed a lot of boxes. Also related to level design, the bonus level in each level went from being tied to the collection of collectables to just being open when you reach it. It makes levels much more seamless and gives players one less thing to keep track of. Lastly, the addition of auxiliary mechanics like crouching and slide attacks makes the platforming much more bearable and dynamic.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is by far one of the best game packages to be released in a while, with the added benefit of it having no game-breaking bugs whatsoever on launch. It is abundantly clear why the original games were so well received back in the 90’s and again last year for this collection’s original PlayStation 4 release. With the collection hitting at a perfect price point as well, it is one that every gamer should give a playthrough, as they will almost surely not be disappointed. While there are some issues and 90’s quirks that some may find hard to look pass, the sheer enjoyment and remastered look that the collection brings makes those issues and quirks very minor. It will be a shame if today’s children do not get a brand-new Crash Bandicoot game in the vein of this trilogy in the near future.
Review copy provided by Activision; reviewed on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.