In the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot isn’t quite how he was 20 years ago: technically speaking, everything’s slightly better. Textures and lighting are both vastly improved, there’s an up-to-date save system, and there’s even a new playable character–sort of.
Despite developer Vicarious Visions saying it had to rebuild the game almost from scratch, all three titles feel almost exactly like they did upon release in the ’90s. Every hop, jump, and spin is faithful to the original trilogy, and that helps send the nostalgia glands into overdrive. The question is: do those original three games hold up two decades later?
Based on my half hour with the game, my tentative answer is ‘yes.’ The first three Crash games are still excellent platformers, and although they may look a little tired graphically on the original PlayStation, time doesn’t age good design. The updated art style may take some of the shine away from the originals’ charm–look at the remaster side-by-side with the originals and you’ll notice how much more ‘realistic’ the new ones appear. But that style undoubtedly breathes new life into a set of games that, at their core, are still excellent. Trees flutter in the wind, ice glints in the winter sun, and Crash’s fur looks thicker than ever; in fact, Vicarious Visions says this is the furriest game it’s ever made. And as much as I like to pretend otherwise, I am a shallow creature–I judge books by their covers–so Crash’s updated look is certainly welcome.
My only worry is that when the novelty of playing Crash Bandicoot again wears off, the buzz will go with it. Sure, these games are still great, but I have played each of them at least three times before, and nostalgia can only stave off familiarity for so long. Vicarious Visions is attempting to extend the trilogy’s shelf life by introducing Coco as a playable character, but as she handles exactly like Crash himself, the effect is limited.
Will my pleasant childhood memories and a current-gen makeover be enough to carry my attention over three whole games? A roller-coaster is never the same second time round, after all. But when the ride is this fun, I think I’ll allow myself another go.