The Crash Comeback Part 2
As I’ve discussed before, I’m a huge fan of Crash Bandicoot, or at least the games that came out for the original PlayStation (Crash 1, 2, 3 and especially Crash Team Racing). After that time, I sort of fell off with the series, and I know its quality has seen ups and downs. I was super excited to see the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy announced for PS4, which collects modern remakes of the original trilogy of games. I’ve been playing the first game in the collection off and on since it’s release for over six months now and finally managed to beat it. It’s matches surprisingly well with how I remembered it, and the remake is an excellent recreation that stays true to the original.
In a lot of ways, Crash Bandicoot feels like a half-step between the types of games that existed on machines like the Genesis and the SNES and more advanced games of the time period like Mario 64, Bnajo-Kazooie, and Spyro. I think most people who have played Crash have realized this at one point or another. Crash doesn’t make as good use of the third dimension as something like Mario 64 does. While those other games are about adventuring and exploring in these big open environments, Crash is really still about getting across a level from the starting point to the finish line in a rather linear fashion. The player primarily moves forward into the screen without a whole lot of space to move horizontally or vertically. Truth is that while I love those old Crash games, they’re really not as innovative as they could have been, they simply extrapolate games like Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario World into the third dimension. But while playing the remake, I realized that this is especially true for the first Crash game, because a lot of the levels (and I had completely forgotten there were as many as there were) are played from a sidescrolling perspective, barely making any use of the third dimension at all.
Crash Bandicoot is also a much harder game than I remember. One issue with this game is that it’s really hard to understand Crash’s position in three-dimensional space, making certain jumps and enemies harder to deal with than they should be. There were plenty of times when the collision felt off, like I would die from touching a hazard but to me it didn’t look like I had even made contact with it. I don’t think I noticed this issue with the original game, but that was probably more because 3D gaming was completely new at the time. I chalk this up to the fact that you can’t move the camera in the game. It always sort of floats behind and above Crash, and since you can’t reorient it like you would in other games, you have no tool through which to better gauge distances you might not understand so well.
But more than that, I think the game is just hard at a core level. I personally had no memory of the game being this hard. Really, it’s just certain particular levels that stand out, while most of the rest of the game is fine. The Road to Nowhere specifically stood out to me as being absurdly over-the-top in terms of difficulty. It took me well over an hour (maybe two) just to get through that one. I learned that for the remake the studio altered all three games to have similar physics as the third game. I think what this essentially means is that they made Crash move and handle like he does in Crash Bandicoot 3, so that it would feel consistent across the entire package. I think this may have ended up making the first game harder, since it was built around a more forgiving method of determining when Crash successfully landed on flat ground. There are several articles and discussions out there which explain this better than I am, fortunately.
Difficulty aside, so far this package has been a really great way to re-experience Crash Bandicoot. (I say this having only played the first game so far.) Crash Bandicoot was always a stunning game to look at, and I think that the graphics of the original game have held up fairly well over the years for a PS1 game. When Uncharted 2 launched, Naughty Dog really became known for their powers at creating amazing graphics, but I think they’ve always had a visual edge over their competitors. The Crash Bandicoot series always made amazing use of colors at a time when most PS1 games were very dull to look at. And Crash himself is an extremely expressive character that is incredibly well animated. I always felt that the exuberant animations of Crash Bandicoot in that original game always gave him a level of personality that characters like Mario and Spyro and Banjo never had.
The new remastered collection completely rebuilds the games from the ground up, and I think they’ve done a good job of making a game with graphics that are up to modern standards while still recapturing the style and feeling of the original Crash Bandicoot. They’ve stayed fairly true to how the games were meant to look. Aside from staying true to the original, the game is just great to look at, having some of the best graphics I’ve seen from 2017.
I think this playthrough has really solidified Crash 1 as a game I think I love so much mostly because of my own personal history with it. I still think it’s a good game, but someone who doesn’t have a connection with it will probably bounce off it as its nothing particularly special. It has some great character to it, but, particularly later in the game, some of the levels can be maddeningly difficult, while others feel rather bland. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever really harbored any illusions about Crash 1, though. I think I’ve always kind of known that it wasn’t a truly amazing game, and that its popularity was mostly boosted because it was supposed to be Playstation’s competitor to Nintendo’s Mario.
That said, I’ve always felt its sequels were far better and much more worthwhile games. As I finish the first game, its only made me more look forward to starting the second game, which I hope will be much more fulfilling. Actually, I don’t have a lot of experience with Crash 2. Back in the day, I only ever owned Crash 1 and Crash 3, and I rented 2 a few times. I’m excited to finally have a real playthrough. I know it’s a lot of people’s favorite game in the series.