PSX 2016 – Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy Preview – Return of Wumpa (PS4)
Crash Bandicoot is coming back! He’s in the midst of his big reunion with gamers, opening with an appearance in Skylander’s Imaginators, and coming next year in the form of the first three Crash games getting remastered. In fact, I don’t even like to call these remasters. Remastering is taking the original and cleaning it up. With the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy Vicarious Visions has stripped the original Crash back down to it’s core framework and rebuilt it on that foundation, using the same blueprints that built the original. That first taste is uncanny, and took me right back to moments from my early days gaming on PlayStation.
I’ve been eager to see how this trilogy would be handled since it was announced at E3. Would it be the Crash that we knew and loved? Would it be changed? Would any change be for the better or for worse? And then gameplay was revealed at PSX 2016, and it looked just like I remembered it, only, you know, better. Even better news? It was playable on the show floor and I had a chance to check out a couple of levels from the first game, testing it out to see how it feels when compared to games today. Those questions came rushing back. Would it match up to today’s standards while retaining that classic Crash Bandicoot feel?
The short answer is that this new Crash Bandicoot feels just like the original. Now it’s hard for me to say that with conviction since I haven’t played the original in probably about 15 years, but if you played the Crash bit in Uncharted 4, then you can get a good idea of how this new one feels too. There’s a certain stiffness to the controls that takes some getting used to, and there were a number of jumps that I embarrassingly failed in front of a long onlooking line because it doesn’t play precisely like games of today. Once I got the hang of it though, there’s no doubt that Crash is back in all his orange furred goodness.
It’s the little things that help to sell the experience. The sounds, from Crash himself, to the wumpa fruit, to the breaking crates. The level design being exactly the same, a higher resolution rebuild on top of the mesh of the originals. The collecting of boxes and bonus levels. It’s all here. The biggest worry about playing a classic is that time and rose colored glasses tint the memories, and the actual experience is at least somewhat diminished. Vicarious Visions has managed to take our memories, or mine at the very least, and tweak them in such a way that it retains a classic feel but doesn’t come across as dated. It’s a fine balance that they’ve had to walk in order to appeal to both sides of the equation, but my short time with it showed real promise.
Getting to finally play the rebuilt Crash trilogy got me itching for the full release. As I mentioned, younger gamers may find the controls to be a bit stiff at first, but anyone who originated with Crash back on the original PlayStation two decades ago will instantly feel at home here. There’s a volatile mixture that’s being worked here, and I’m just happy to see Vicarious Visions handling it with the utmost care and respect for lifetime Crash Bandicoot fans and newcomers alike.