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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy hands-on: This gorgeous remaster is still hard as hell

by Brandon Russell | December 6, 2016December 6, 2016 5:00 am PDT

If there’s one game—besides maybe Metal Gear Solid—that defined the PSOne era it’s Crash Bandicoot. The franchise, developed by Naughty Dog, came to represent Sony’s famed console, offering an exciting blend of platforming and action. Crash has earned his place in popular gaming culture and he’s making his triumphant return on the PlayStation 4 next year.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a remake of the first three games in the Crash Bandicoot series, a like-for-like recreation that put the titular character on the map. As such, the N. Sane Trilogy also carries over the franchise’s legendary difficulty, which is both good and bad.

Good because the remake provides a steep challenge for gamers who are gluttons for punishment. Bad because it reveals a lot of Crash’s flaws, exposing a game that maybe isn’t as good as people remember. Sometimes being so faithful can have its draw backs and Crash is a prime example.

While the N. Sane Trilogy looks incredible—the colors really pop and the graphics are crisp—I found my time with the remaster to be very frustrating. I had fun, no doubt. But Crash really highlights how far platformers have evolved in the past 20-some years. Remember how hard Crash was in Uncharted 4? It’s exactly like that but with HD graphics.

Maybe such a faithful remaster isn’t the best good idea

Crash is relying heavily on nostalgia with the N. Sane Trilogy and from that standpoint gamers won’t be disappointed. There’s an endearing quality to the franchise that doesn’t go away just because the game is difficult. But I wouldn’t be surprised if gamers suddenly start to find the franchise a little rough around the edges after they die at the same jump ten times in a row.

Even with the myriad of issues, my time with the N. Sane Trilogy was an enjoyable experience—and there’s no denying Crash looks flat out gorgeous in HD. I spent twenty minutes running and jumping through the first game’s early levels, and it took me right back to the mid-90s.

Whether Crash can find a modern audience with a decidedly old-school approach remains to be seen. The N. Sane Trilogy offers virtually no evolution to the franchise—a few tweaked camera angles and audio—which can be a detriment to the experience. But the fresh graphics, catchy music, and charmingly irreverent tone will no doubt propel the franchise back into public consciousness. Not that Crash ever really left.

Developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision for the PlayStation 4, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is currently scheduled for a 2017 release.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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