Although I feel very sure of my opinion, this is still technically in-progress as I’m about 2/3 through each of the games. If anything happens while finishing them to change my opinion I will be sure to post an update.
This is an interesting product to review, as I feel it’s multi-faceted. Vicarious Visions produced a gorgeous remaster of Naughty Dog’s trilogy. They re-built the game from the ground up to look stunning in 2017, yet the physics are dead-accurate to the originals (to a fault in my opinion).
For a Crash Bandicoot fan looking to re-play a nostalgic favorite in glorious HD, it’s a no-brainer. The package is light on extras like additional art or modes, but you can’t beat the N.Sane Trilogy for the purest form of remaster.
Gamers without attachment to the franchise, interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, are in for a mixed bag. To quote my A 90s Kid colleague Matthew Owen “It’s good, except when it’s bad”.
All three titles are oozing charm. From the colorful levels, to the satisfaction of picking up bunches of wumpa fruit, the games are often a joy to hop around in. But there are issues aplenty that make this the Dark Souls of platformers. Crash is usually one hit away from death, and it’s often unclear which enemies you can damage, and which will damage you. There are protective masks that Crash can collect, but unlike Mario, they are few and far between. The platforming can also be tediously unfair, with ridiculously tiny margins of error. Far too many pits are stretched just short of Crash’s full jumping length, demanding near perfection to clear. The camera angles often obscure upcoming danger and Crash’s flip makes it more challenging to guess where he will land. A more defined shadow or other marker would have gone a long way.
This is where I struggle to assign a rating. Vicarious Visions did their job exceptionally well, it’s not their fault the game has archaic problems. I’m now incredibly curious to imagine what Naughty Dog might have changed if they were in charge of remaking their former property, or if a new entry was made. Easier jumps, more power-ups, and a better camera could have made the challenges a lot more fun than frustrating.
I believe the sole purpose of a review is to inform buyers of potential game purchases, and obviously there are different buyers out there. Like Yooka-Laylee, this can be easily divided amongst those who want a remastered Crash, and those who have zero attachment whatsoever.
If you wanted a visual update that kept the games 100% true to the original, this is a fantastic bargain at $40 USD. If you have zero attachment to the franchise, you will find this trilogy a mixed bag of fun and frustration. Even without nostalgia however, I can still recommend the game giving enough entertainment for the dollar, while preserving a piece of gaming history.