Crash Bandicoot was great on the PlayStation 1. It had great graphics, a weird creature as it’s headliner, and it wasn’t Mario. On top of that it was a platformer, a genre I hold dear. However, just like any number of early platformers and side-scrollers, Crash did not hold up well. With the rerelease of some other games over the last few years, Bionic Commando & Contra notably, I was excited to see what Crash had in store. Crash should have stayed in the nostalgia vault.
Very little has been changed since the mid-nineties. The major overhauls were upgrading the graphics and adding Coco Bandicoot as a playable character. Adding Coco is a nice touch and adds some extra areas and levels. You quickly find her addition hollow though. Her levels play no differently than the original Crash. She is merely a reskin. This was supremely disappointing and I was really hoping that she would offer a different feel to break up the clumsiness of Crash. There was a lot of opportunity with Coco’s character and it was squandered.
I do love the bright colors and funky settings. It’s a wonderful departure from so many games today, filled with grays and browns. From Aku Aku to the Chinese kites and dragons to the many enemies, there is always a blast of color. The voice acting is great and a real bright spot in the game. Dr. Cortex (Lex Lang) is funny and Lang really captures his zany attitude and mad plans. John DiMaggio does a great job as the evil Uka Uka and is funny enough as Tiny Tiger. The whole cast nails the feel of these zany games. However, the pretty visuals and good dialogue can only carry this game so far.
I could not stand the controls; for a platformer, they are way too loose. There is no precision to the jumps and Crash constantly falls when he shouldn’t. What doesn’t help is the awful camera angles and the 3D environments making it almost unbearable at certain points. Early on in Crash Bandicoot this is on display when you have to ride the Coco’s pet tiger Pura. You are constantly careening into things that look out of the way until the camera angle shifts and you’ve smashed into it. It makes it trial and error without any real warning. Many games are kind of trial and error but you could make it in the first run. Crash on the other hand offers none of that. The reverse camera angle maps, namely the boulder runs, are impossible to complete. You have to run until you fall and then adjust and it will happen over and over because of the garbage angle.
The camera problems and clunky controls persist throughout the entire trilogy. The only one that is enjoyable, because of some quality of life improvements, is Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. The controls are a little tighter and the level layouts make more sense (for the most part). Camera angles at times are still completely unbearable. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy needed to be thoroughly redone and instead was a nostalgia driven cash grab.
I really, really wanted to enjoy Crash again but alas I have been wholly disappointed. Yes, the colorful world is fantastic and the voice acting is great but there is a plethora of bigger problems. The controls are clunky and loose, at best, and the camera angles are god awful. It results in a punishing trial and error type gameplay with little to no payoff. This is one of those things that ruins your nostalgia and to me a little bit of my childhood. If you “have” to play the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy I would wait to get it on sale. Keep it in the past and look upon it fondly from afar.