The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a much-needed return to classic form that revitalizes the long dormant and otherwise forgotten Crash Bandicoot series. The collection brings together three of the original PlayStation games where Crash made his debut but gives each of them a complete visual upgrade and small gameplay adjustments to improve their experiences. But while all three games look different than their 1990s counterparts, they still control and ultimately feel the same way they did back then. Nostalgia will be a huge factor for many who dive into it, but the N. Sane Trilogy reminds us of all the good and bad reasons for why we love Crash Bandicoot games.
The biggest addition to the N. Sane Trilogy is the complete visual overhaul that all three Crash games receive on the PlayStation 4. No longer do we have primitive cartoonish polygons, but fully rendered background and character models that feel pulled from a CGI animated feature. Crash’s original design has never looked this good before, nor has he looked so at home in the levels around him. Different level effects, such as fire or electricity, which once blended into the background too much now pop out with brighter colors. While all three games are the exact same locations and levels you had back on the PlayStation, the new look does well in making them feel brand new.
Gameplay is the exact same as before on the original PlayStation, with very little changed about the traditional Crash formula. If you never played the first three Crash Bandicoot games, then you’ll be caught off guard at first by the tough platforming challenges that started for the series in these three games. You’ll be collecting crystals and striving to find gems across all three titles, with a few little surprises scattered around that long-time Crash fans will appreciate, including all of the hidden secrets from their original releases.
However, unlike in the original games, you now have access to an additional playable character in both Crash Bandicoot 1 and Crash Bandicoot 2. You have to play through a few levels at first, but then you’ll have full access to using Coco Bandicoot in all levels afterward, which is a neat bonus that gives a lot without changing much to the core game.
There are some quality of life changes for the N. Sane Trilogy, but not for every game included. Crash 1 finally has the ability to save at any time on the world map, which makes a huge improvement to the overall experience. However, the rest of the gameplay remains untouched for the most part. Levels with harsh difficulty spikes remain the same as the original release, with a few spots still bordering on doable and impossible.
A lot of this is due to how stiff and weighted down controlling Crash feels compared to later games in the trilogy. Maintaining the original design of the first game is great, but it would’ve been ideal to make enough changes necessary to Crash 1 and have it feel more consistent with the other two games.
While the first game receives the most changes, the other two games in the trilogy don’t get as many adjustments to address some of the series’ lingering issues. Crash Bandicoot: Warped still has levels with vehicles that don’t handle very well, and can be frustrating to play when you’re trying to obtain all of the hidden gems to get the true ending. The same can be said for Crash 2’s animal riding stages, which feel somewhat sluggish when trying to make critical turns during a level.
These issues don’t hurt the total experience of playing through both games, but they go completely ignored for the sake of keeping the games authentic. While this may be good for the faithful fans diving into these games once again, it feels like a missed opportunity to iron out these small problems.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy gives us everything that we loved about the series before its fall from grace, presented it in a newly minted package. Even if you’ve never played these games before, you’ll appreciate the presentation and challenge within this collection that gives a great overview of what made Crash Bandicoot so great back on the first PlayStation. The visual upgrade to the games is fantastic and the bonus extras are a nice addition to an already well-valued collection. Though only so much has changed from their original releases, this is the definitive way to play the first three Crash Bandicoot games.
This review was based on a digital review code of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for the PlayStation 4, provided by Activision.