Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy: A Trend in Nostalgia

I have to explain endlessly to people why I don’t own a PS4. It gets harder every time a game like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Death Stranding releases or gets announced, but I’ll be honest, Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy was the toughest to swallow. I loved the Crash games growing up and those games alongside Spyro, who is also getting his own original trilogy remaster, were the first memories I made while gaming on a home console. I had all the different gameboys but I wanted something for the TV, and when I got a PlayStation One, Spyro and Crash were some of my first and closest friends.

When they announced the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy for PS4, my heart sunk. I had hoped for a wider release, at the very least on Xbox One. Once the game was announced for the Nintendo Switch, quite a long time after, my frown turned into pure giddiness. Now, having spent time playing all three games in the remastered trilogy and beating two of them, I’d like to share my thoughts on the game, nostalgia, and why some things are best left in the past. Spoiler alert: the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy is not one of those things, and is very much a great addition to any gamer’s library, whether they played the originals or not.

Gameplay

Each game in the N-Sane Trilogy plays roughly the same. The most diverse experience occurs in the original, where the controls seem limited and less fluid than in the second and third entries in the trilogy. Otherwise, the experience is largely the same as the original games. The same process required to traverse each level is present, and it actually brought back memories of rage quitting some levels. It was quite satisfying revisiting one of the early levels on Island 1, “The Great Gate”, and remembering how much trouble it gave me as a child. It took me back immediately to frustrated afternoons where I swore I was jumping when I was supposed to, only to find that I’d be forced back to the beginning.

Gameplay and nostalgia aren’t always friendly with one another. I’ve gone back and played games I loved, like Jedi Power Battles or Driver 2, and been amazed I ever played them so much. Perception and perspective are everything, and to adolescent me, Star Wars and car chases were the bee’s knees. I’m happy to say that Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy is just as enjoyable as I remembered. The frustrating moments where movements are choppy and seemingly simple jumps infuriate me beyond belief are forgiven. Much of the leniency towards Crash is nostalgia, but a lot of it has to do with the other categories I always keep in mind during reviews: visuals and sound.

Visuals and Sound

PS1 Lara Croft and Superman 64’s notoriously lackluster graphics have been meme’d to oblivion, but there is something charming about the blocky designs of the 90s and 2000s games. The graphics in Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy have dealt with the less-than-impressive visuals honestly, but still allow some room for graininess. While crisp, the game still looks like the adventures we remember from the original entries. Crash looks significantly more defined, and the background is detailed and thoughtful. Taking the cake in terms of upgrades, however, is the soundtrack.

The feeling of hearing songs like “Hog Wild” and the Tiny Tiger boss battle music was so exciting. The great soundtrack of the original Crash games never received the credit other platformers were given. Heavy hitters like Mario and Donkey Kong have entire games defined by a few compositions, and Crash deserves to be on that pedestal. The crisp strikes of a xylophone or snap of a hand drum come through in a much more dramatic manner thanks to the remastered soundtrack. I went back and listened to the music in the first two games on PS1 and was immediately appreciative of the work that went into sizing up the sounds behind Crash’s adventures. Visually, the game is a wonderful upgrade, but musically, the game accelerates into conversations about great platformer soundtracks, remaster or not.

Overall

When Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy was announced, I was disappointed I didn’t have a PS4. At the same time, however, I was thankful. Revisiting things we’ve elevated in our memories and minds is a dangerous game, often resulting in our expectations being crushed by the reality of things. Luckily, Crash held up his end of the bargain, but it was a little odd revisiting the games after so long. I enjoyed all three of them, but there’s something about things being left in the past, no matter how fondly upon which they are looked. The trilogy is a wonderful addition to my Switch library, and I anxiously await the Spyro trilogy, but I fear that a great memory of these games is now slightly tarnished because they’ve been remodeled and remade to be acceptable by today’s standards. To me, they’ve always been great. A little part of me wishes we didn’t reboot or remake everything that was moderately successful in the past, whether it be movies, games, tv shows, etc. This time it worked, and like 4 year old me, I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy

$39.99
8.5

Score

8.5/10

Pros

  • Great remasters
  • Music and visuals make a big jump forward

Cons

  • Still unforgiving gameplay
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