Looking back to the PlayStation One era, I remember the Crash Bandicoot series being something that had always appealed to me. For starters, it looked incredibly different compared to the other platformers that existed back then. Most of the platformers that I was familiar with as a kid were basically 2D side-scrolling games like Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario. Crash Bandicoot was something different. It was something that felt pretty unique at the time.
I remember when my brother purchased his first PlayStation One a disc containing various demos was included. On that disc one of the games included was the first Crash Bandicoot. I don’t really remember much about how the original Crash Bandicoot game felt, I mean… it’s been over 20 years, but I did at least play it. So this demo disc was technically my first introduction into the Crash Bandicoot series.
When the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy had originally released back in 2017 on the PlayStation 4, I remember being excited to revisit these games. I had played the first two Crash Bandicoot games briefly over the years, but most of my familiarity came with Crash Bandicoot: Warped. I had figured that this would have been a great chance to finally go back and complete the first two Crash games. Unfortunately, this was no easy task – the first two Crash games were insanely difficult. Being mostly bested by these games, I just gave up. They were way too hard. And this is all coming from someone who probably isn’t a casual gamer.
Now…fast forward to 2019. I decided that I would give the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy another shot, this time…on the Nintendo Switch. By the time of me writing this, I have completed all three games. So everything that I’m writing here is basically just my experiences. Putting aside Crash Bandicoot: Warped, the first two games still feel frustratingly difficult. I will get to that, but first I feel that I should at least explain the premise of these games.
In the Crash Bandicoot games, you play as Crash. The gameplay between the three games included on the Trilogy doesn’t really differ greatly. They’re all relatively similar. The end goal of every game has you fighting the main villain Dr. Cortex. The biggest change between the three games is probably the central hub. In the first game, Crash travels across the map completing levels. I feel as though this is probably mostly comparable to something like Super Mario World. In Crash Bandicoot 2 and Warped, you are basically in a hub area. You can individually select different levels, with each level having a different design. After completing every level in the section, you are then able to fight a boss. This goes on and on until the end of the game. Apart from that, the only other major difference between the three games is that in Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Crash learns new abilities after defeating a boss. These abilities make Crash: Bandicoot: Warped essentially feel like the easiest game in the trilogy. And honestly, I would say that Crash Bandicoot: Warped is without a doubt my favorite game included simply because of its lighter difficulty.
So starting with the first Crash Bandicoot, I honestly cannot express the number of times that this game made me want to rip my hair out. This was seriously one of the most infuriatingly frustrating experiences that I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life. If there was a way to see how many times that you died in these games, I most likely died well over a thousand times in the first Crash game alone. The platforming in this game is just ridiculous. Some levels just feel incredibly impossible. It becomes something of trial and error after a while. The game does start off feeling rather easy, this is most likely done to ease the player in. Everything feels pretty smooth, that is…until you hit the Native Fortress. This is when the difficulty just amps up to the extreme and goes from being a 1 to a 100. The amount of the deaths that I’ve seen in this level would put all of Dark Souls to shame. You pretty much have to rely on having the masks that give you free hits, otherwise you are just going to get stuck again and again. Even after you do complete this level, things don’t get any easier. I would say that the hardest level in the game is definitely Lights Out. This level pretty much relies on you having to keep up a mask in order for you to be able to see where you are going. Losing the mask pretty much means you are going to die. I was honestly stuck on this level for so long that I had considered giving up. It was that rough.
Outside of the difficult levels, it’s surprising to learn that the boss fights in this game are pretty darn easy. I can’t really point out to any of them giving me a whole lot of trouble. I guess I was sort of stuck on Dr. Nitrus Brio, but even then…I don’t think that the bosses were much of a challenge in this game. It was more of a challenge to just get there.
Overall, I just don’t think that I liked the first Crash Bandicoot. By the time I got to the end of the game, I was completely worn out. With so many difficult levels in the game, it was just so hard to endure this. There was so many times that I just wanted to give up and move on to the next game, but something kept me going. I think that I just wanted to be able to say that I completed Crash Bandicoot. I will never play this game again. I just don’t think that I have the stomach for it. It isn’t a bad game, but it’s just way too frustrating. There are certain points in this game where you just wish that Crash had unlimited lives or something. In my opinion, he honestly should have. Someone could argue that this would have made the game easier, I disagree…I think that if it did anything, it might have just saved someone a frustrating walk of shame getting back to whatever point of any level that they are stuck on. Please…no more.
Okay, so moving on to Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. Differing from the first Crash Bandicoot game, Crash 2 requires you to do more than simply complete a level. In Crash Bandicoot 2, you also have to collect crystals. Collecting all these crystals will allow Crash to battle a boss on whatever floor that he is currently on. In total, each floor has 5 crystals – with a total of 25 throughout the game. This also adds a certain degree of non-linearity to the game, since you can complete any of the current floor’s 5 levels at your leisure.
In terms of difficulty, going from the first Crash Bandicoot to the second feels like a relief. The game does honestly feel like it was designed to be more lenient. I noticed a lot more pity checkpoints in the game. This means that if you keep dying, you might see a box change to another checkpoint. It isn’t all smooth unfortunately, Crash Bandicoot 2 still feels insanely difficult at times. Some of these difficulty spikes just make it feel like Crash 2’s levels were designed by two different people with two different ideas. Some levels had that same frustrating feeling that I got from playing the first Crash game and others felt really easy. It was a bit strange to not see a gradual spike in difficulty. My tipping points in the game came from the annoying bee levels. I just hated these levels because it felt like there was no way to avoid all of these bees unless you were on top of the beehive killing them before they had a chance to do anything. But overall, I did at least have an easier time with the levels – so that’s that.
In terms of the bosses in Crash Bandicoot 2, I felt as though they were a little more difficult. There wasn’t really any point where I could note getting stuck, but I do feel they were overall more of a challenge. Except for the end boss…that was easy.
So what did I think about Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back? I think that it was better than the first Crash Bandicoot. I appreciated the non-linearity approach, though I did go through the levels on a floor in order. I also thought that discovering secret areas was pretty interesting too, though I only came across three in total. I think that some of the difficulty spikes were even more frustrating than the first Crash Bandicoot game, but there was never any point where I felt like I wanted to stop playing. I would at least give it enough credit to say that it was an overall better experience. Even after I completed the game I still kind of wanted to play it to gather more collectables. I would say that says a lot, especially considering that I couldn’t wait to move on from the first Crash Bandicoot game. I wouldn’t have minded sticking around with this one some more, but there was still one more game to go.
So this all finally brings me to the last game in the N. Sane Trilogy – Crash Bandicoot: Warped. I honestly feel that this is the best game included in this collection. This is the Crash Bandicoot game that I am mostly familiar with from when I had played it back on the original PlayStation. I had always remembered it as being one of those games that you could play without getting bored. It felt like it had a greater emphasis on gathering collectables, verse the previous two games. And I feel that overall the level design was much more refined and offered way more variety. Instead of only playing as Crash, you also got a few driving levels with Coco. This mixed things up a lot and definitely felt like a refreshing change of pace.
Getting into the difficulty of Crash Bandicoot: Warped (since I’ve talked about the difficulty in the two previous games), this game is insanely easy. I’m not joking. Coming from playing Crash Bandicoot 2, it took me forever to finally lose a single life. I honestly think that I had been playing for at least 3 hours before I finally died to anything. I actually think that it was one of the levels where Crash is being chased where I had stepped into some lava or something and acquired my first death. I didn’t really mind this. I just don’t think that these games should be overly hard. Crash Bandicoot: Warped does seem to be more about completion verse the other two games. And it doesn’t even feel all that bad to collect gems and relics anyways – there really is something satisfying about finding those hidden gems.
In terms of the boss difficulty, I honestly think that most of the bosses were easy. There were a few times that I got stuck, but there was nothing too bad. I think the end boss in this game was probably the hardest between the three, but even that wasn’t too difficult. I did enjoy the fights themselves too, even though they were mostly easy. I just don’t think that this was too bad here.
Finally coming to my final thoughts about Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Well, what can I say. In my own personal opinion, I feel that Warped is the best game in the trilogy. It’s a more relaxing experience verse the previous two games, which feel so challenging that they become rage inducing. That isn’t to say that the first two games are bad…they aren’t. It’s just…I feel that Crash Bandicoot: Warped is the most enjoyable and it’s mainly because of its playability. I would say that the variety in level design also attributes to my overall feelings. It’s a nice change of pace when you don’t have to do the same thing over and over again. Overall, this was the best Crash game that I had played as a kid and on this collection it’s the best Crash game that I had played as an adult.
So final thoughts on the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy as a whole. I’d say that it’s a great collection. The games offer a good mix. There is something for people who want a good challenge and there is something for people who want a nice relaxing time with a game. There isn’t really anything drastic between the three games. They all look and feel identical apart from anything that I had mentioned. I do think that this was a really good remake. The core formula of the games stayed the same and as someone who grew up with these titles I honestly appreciate this a lot more. It was great to be able to finally finish playing this, I put in quite a lot of time between the three games. I think that I was most surprised that I had liked Crash Bandicoot 2 as much as I did. I almost wanted to say that it was better than Warped, but I still think that Warped edges it out. Crash Bandicoot 2 does do a really good job at being a balance between all of the games and I did mostly enjoy it (even with the frustrating difficulty spikes). I definitely feel that I could recommend any version of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Like I said, I was able to finally finish playing it on the Nintendo Switch – but, I don’t really think the version matters. No matter what copy someone buys this on, as long as they enjoy platformers, I think that they would be happy with the purchase. So…yeah, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is definitely a good buy.