Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy PC Review

There's no beating around the bush here, it's an amazing game.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is supposed to be a return to form for the beloved Bandicoot we’ve spent our childhoods playing games with. I remember my earliest memory of the games being playing Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back through the Interactive CD Sampler Volume 6, who could ever forget the epic intro to that demo compilation?

I still remember that E3 conference where a remaster of the first 3 Crash Games was announced. All the way back in 2016 until 2017 I was on the hunt for news regarding this remaster until finally a trailer dropped promoting the N. Sane Trilogy.

Not only would I see the three games I mostly had my childhood with, I also had the capability of playing all three at once at a price of $50 USD. I was hooked from the very beginning and only wondered what would happen if the game just so happened to not meet my standards nowadays.

However, I’m glad to have been proven wrong regarding my cautious optimism. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy only shows that any series can return to form gracefully while also showing a few new things and tweaks that make for a completely new experience for veterans like me.

And yes, I believe that reviewing Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is better done when looking at this as a complete standalone game for reasons I’ll get into in a few minutes. I am taking a look at this game and often making comparisons to the bits I played on the PlayStation 4 version.

A better approach can be tackled when addressing the issues that the console version had and talking about the changes done to it. Needless to say, there is a lot of stuff to cover regarding the games that come with this compilation, so let’s dig in.


Crash is Back and Better than Ever!

The first thing to mention about this new Crash Bandicoot outing is that it’s been developed by Vicarious Visions. In case you’ve never heard from them before they have developed Crash Bandicoot games for the GBA (Namely Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure and Crash bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, both hugely recommended).

I was pretty confident on their skill to translate Crash into (Initially) the PS4. Then, I was quickly pleasantly surprised the moment I found out that Activision-Blizzard and Vicarious would port this game to the Xbox One and PC a year later. This only made me even more hyped than before because this is technically the first Crash Bandicoot game to ever reach PC.

And by Aku Aku I don’t know how to describe the beauty of these visuals. This game just looks absolutely gorgeous on PC and runs at a smooth 60 FPS, it’s incredible and charming at the same time. None of that 45 FPS bull**** that the PS4 Pro with Boost Mode on could offer.

Not to rag on the PS4 version because I am sure their fans are enjoying the initial port they own. But to be honest, I love the PC version for the amount of graphical tweaks done over the original to make it stand out more.

However, some issues with lighting in some places weren’t really fixed and there are instances where the lighting can make characters look like plastic dolls. I guess this is a problem with the engine itself more than something that can just be whisked away with a patch, but it’s a problem that becomes noticeable once you see Crash with Black voids for eyes.

There are a lot of problems in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy that can be attributed to the engine used for it (Which is the Unity Engine). It might seem like a cop-out at first but I am mostly trying to find an explanation for all of these glitches and problems.


The “Pillbox Effect”

As such, let’s address the biggest controversy behind the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash’s hitbox. There was a huge deal about a “Difficulty Spike” coming out of nowhere from Veteran Players. What was initially thought of being “Casuals complaining about a difficult game” suddenly turned into an issue worth looking into.

It wasn’t until a Reddit user found the issue being in the characters’ hitboxes. Both of them have a pill hitbox rather than one that encompasses the whole body or just a plain one. What makes this even more annoying and downright neglectful is the fact that it also is used as a default for the Unity Engine and makes it easier to fall off platforms.

There are also other problems in this platformer that weren’t fixed in the PC versions. Like the fact that the games often shove Crash off tight platforms when this wasn’t an issue with the original games, the jump arc being faster, and the plethora of issues that accompany the individual remasters of the three games.

The fact that these issues weren’t fixed for the PC and Xbox One ports leads me to believe this is how this game is meant to be played. While I can understand why that choice happened (Because you can’t just “Patch-in” a complete retooling of an engine), I certainly don’t think this is a way this platformer should have been handled.

But I will say this, it doesn’t make the game all that more difficult. Yes, it does make some jumps tighter to get and sometimes the hitboxes can work in favor of the players. However, that doesn’t make the game “Like Dark Souls” or whatever dumb ***t any other journalist from outlets outside of this one will say.

However, this is just a slight look at general problems, we still have a plethora of games to tackle. Just keep these things in mind because they will be addressed along with some other design problems made by the developers in the individual installments.


Crash bandicoot 1: The Best Way to play The Game… By Default

Crash Bandicoot 1 has been one of my least favorite games to play and complete. Main reason being its “Don’t die” stipulation if you wanted to get the clear gems. It really was an example of a game aging poorly over the course of the new generations.

However, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy handles things differently compared to its PS1 counterpart. The rules imposed by Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back apply to this game and as such, you can die and still be awarded the Clear Gem of the stage. This is basically the main reason why I recommend this over the original Crash Bandicoot 1.

However, some choices made regarding how those gems are acquired are a bit questionable. Now that you can die and retry Bonus Stages as you’d like, they are now part of the Box Total tally. While I appreciate the choice, some of these Bonus Stages really weren’t meant for 100% completion.

That said however, I will give praise to the bonus stages for feeling more like small puzzles. Namely the Brio / Cortex Stages. I couldn’t see these before when I was a kid back in the good ol’ PS1 days because I often died to the first obstacle but now that I can actually try them at my leisure I did end up appreciating the level design at some points.

Of course, this really wouldn’t be a huge deal in and of itself but whenever it came to acquire those Color Gems the headaches start coming. The main problem with them being that whenever the player wants to collect the Color Gem it has to be by the classic stipulation of “Don’t die”.

This really grinds my gears especially considering the fact that one of the Color Gems is in the infamous stage “Slippery Climb” which is long and painful to play through because it has heavy “Bounce on Albatrosses” design and if you died it’s back to the beginning of the level with you.

Once again, I understand the reasoning behind this, because the gems didn’t really have any special way of acquiring them they make “Don’t die” a stipulation for the color gems only. However, this could’ve been solved by making stages like Brio’s and Cortex’s like Death Routes or something along those lines.

Bosses have also been made significantly easier, not only does the game itself tell you when you have to strike them down or how to do so. In cases like Papu Papu (Mind you, a very easy boss on his own accord on the original) they made it so he can be attacked at any point during the entire boss fight, making him even easier to beat.

I feel like some choices are very questionable in regards to Crash Bandicoot 1’s remake. However, I don’t find the choices themselves to be deal breakers of any sort. It’s mostly just a complaint in regards of game mechanics that were kept for “Nostalgia” or something like that while we have the innovative practices made by future games in the series.

I won’t even tackle the subject of Time Trials and Relics for the stages. Once again, the courses in Crash Bandicoot 1 were not meant to be speedran through. I mean, there certainly are ways of doing so, but without the ability to slide or use the Crash Dash Boots the Time Trials just feel like more of an afterthought than anything.

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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cold Hard Crash Strikes Back

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the port I was looking forward to playing since the very beginning. In fact, this was the very first game I played in the PS4 version when it released back in the day and I didn’t really think highly of the port at first.

The reason behind my disliking of the port came to a few aspects that I did look down upon now that I had the chance of playing this game on PC at my own pacing. The main one being how animal riding segments were probably heavy and jank around 70% of the time.

In fact, I even got my first Game Over in Crash because I kept dying from not being able to break one box and throwing myself to an obstacle during a Polar Bear Riding Section. To say that the animal controls were “Tweaked” to become better would be a lie.

It’s a problem in the Crash Bandicoot and Crash Bandicoot: WARPED ports as well. So I’ll talk about this in the third part, because it’s the most prevalent out of the three ports. Needless to say, I find myself wondering why we needed tighter controls like these if the first few games had them nailed down perfectly.

Now, that problem really doesn’t affect my experience with the rest of the game. Needless to say, I actually enjoy playing Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back in the N. Sane Trilogy more than the original game even.

You can actually see most of the improvements in the entire trilogy by just looking at Crash Bandicoot 2’s visuals. Having different sorts of climates, atmospheres and even something as minute as having stages being set at different times throughout the day just adds to the charm of the game entirely.

However, the biggest problem I have with Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the fact that they kept a very annoying problem that comes with the game. The fact that the camera actively fights against the player when it comes to backtracking.

Keep in mind that this is also a huge problem in Crash Bandicoot. However, Crash Bandicoot 2 has quite a lot of instances where the player has to backtrack if they want to get the Clear Gem. Which really is just a drag and it tends to lead to unfair deaths.

But, in regards of everything else? Well, I like it, the difficulty curve is still as great as it was before, the visuals are just amazing, the game is even faster now with the fact that jumps don’t have as much hang time and having the slide back just makes me feel incredible.

I admit I have janked my way through some stages by using Slide Spin Jumps but I still love the game for giving me such freedom. In regards to the hidden stuff like alternate pathways and Color Gems, I still feel like this is the best game at it and the stages are designed perfectly (With the exception of Cold Hard Crash which by all means should be called “Brick Wall”).

But once again, I still feel like this port of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is definitely one of the best I have seen in my entire life. I would definitely buy N. Sane Trilogy for the Crash Bandicoot 2 port alone, if you ask me.

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Crash Bandicoot: FLAWED

And now we’re going to tackle one of the most mixed bags out of all the three ports in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. The Crash Bandicoot: WARPED port. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that this port of the game is actually an amazing one, but there are several problems with it even though it brings some appropriately needed tweaks at the same time.

Let’s start with the stuff I lampshaded on the previous parts of the review. The animal and vehicle controls have been “Tweaked” for the remakes. However, this wasn’t really needed because now every single one feels even heavier than before.

Things such as sharp turns and the simple fact of moving left and right are made even harder because of how heavy the animals and vehicles feel. I actually feel like they are even jankier in Crash Bandicoot: WARPED because there were points during the Tiger Riding segments where I lost all my momentum while making a jump and ended up falling on a bottomless pit.

I am not going to beat around the bush here. I loved the Jet Ski Stages in the original game and in this port, the entire thing has been butchered to death. Box Collecting is nearly impossible with these sections and not only that but I have also died to obstacles I didn’t even die to in the original because tight turning is really hard on these.

And well, this problem is more prevalent on the hidden stage Hot Coco. I’m going to break my professionalism here and say **** this Stage. Hot Coco has a lot of Nitro Crates/Bombs and more often than not I ended up hitting them because of the slippery nature of the Jet Ski stages. They tried to make this realistic but obviously the levels didn’t accommodate for that change.

The only stages I don’t really have an issue with are the Plane Stages set during World War II. These stages have really tight and responsive controls and I felt like I was having a smoother and better time with them. I mean, I remember having to restart the hidden stage Rings of Power a lot of times and in this port I managed to clear it in just one go with both Clear Gems.

Boss Fights are as amazing as they were in the originals. However, I did notice that some bosses like Dingodile have become even faster and more aggressive. I mean, at the very least I did when I got blasted by his laser beam because I was caught off guard.

The rest of the stages I also have absolutely no issue with. Once again most of the problems related to the hitboxes and stuff are really easy to get used to and the stages look as magnificently as the other games before.

Every single one of the problems with Crash Bandicoot: WARPED’s port comes with its own set of needed tweaks and improvements over the original. As such, I wouldn’t really consider it a “Better port” but more so another version of the original game if that makes any sense.

There are a lot of questionable and annoying choices made throughout the entire thing but, barring the animal/vehicle sections I really enjoy the stages of Crash Bandicoot: WARPED and am glad to see the remake’s improvements made over the original.

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Overall, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is one of the best games I have ever played in the current generation of consoles. This might sound like someone with rose tinted glasses telling everyone to just play the ports of games that were incredible in his childhood but the quality of these 3 games is just undeniable.

The fact that these games got ported to PC and Xbox One is just a magnificent plus as now everyone can absolutely enjoy these classics without having to worry about a console preference. The visuals are amazing, the music is great and the gameplay is just too valuable for me to deny.

Yes, there have been complaints about the three games. However, when you consider the fact that there are more improvements than anything else, these complaints are more nitpicks than anything else. In other words, these complaints are minute compared to the amount of praise I have for the game.

I am definitely looking forward to that Spyro the Dragon port that’s coming in the near future. Vicarious Visions really shows that they are capable of handling remasters of games of old and giving them a new coat of paint for the newer generations.

However, the review is about the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and I must say that I absolutely love this series of ports. It’s a pretty valuable game to have in your collection and an amazing experience all around.

Javier Ulises Lopez Aquino

A journalist that listens to the Community without shying from making his opinions clear. I expect to form a new standard for journalism, one article at a time.
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