The Duck’s mission to experience all the classic games I possibly can has been mighty successful these past several years. I’ve played such beloved SNES titles as Super Metroid, EarthBound, and Super Mario RPG. I’ve even caught up on Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy 4-9 and Chrono Trigger. The next set of games I had set my sights on was Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot series from the PS1, a feat that became much easier with the release of the N. Sane Trilogy on the PS4. As of writing this review, I have just managed to complete the very first Crash Bandicoot game, and here are my very interesting (hopefully) thoughts.
While Crash Bandicoot has been around since the 90’s, I admit that, until recently, I knew very little about it, aside from the names of the main-est of the main characters, along with a slight bit of knowledge pertaining to the gameplay. Crash Bandicoot was, from what I could tell, a transition between the side-scrollers of the first half of the 90’s and the free-roaming games that became more popular in the second half of the 90’s.
What this basically meant was that, from my perspective, our bandicoot hero would be spending his games in narrow corridors that allowed some room for exploration, but which didn’t provide too much freedom beyond that. Before playing the game, I had only seen some of the earlier stages, along with that one stage that appears in Uncharted 4, and…I had doubts. To my untrained eye, I had to wonder how fun essentially platforming my way through a bunch of hallways would be.
Fortunately, I found that my initial impressions of Crash Bandicoot were way off. While the early stages of the game weren’t terribly interesting (honestly, the early levels of most platformers are pretty boring for me), I quickly learned to appreciate how much could really be done with this deceptively simple formula. While a good many levels are essentially hallways (but not in a bad way), quite literally when these levels take place indoors, a good portion of the game plays out more similarly to old-school side-scrollers, but with more room for movement. A good example is the Lost City, where you can leave the main path to find crates in the background.
For me, Crash Bandicoot was a lot of fun because of variety and the unexpected strategy of seemingly simple things. Though I have been playing platformers essentially my whole life, ranging from the early 90’s to today, having a platformer that changed perspective throughout the game was actually very exciting and refreshing despite this game being 20 years old. Sometimes it’s a side-scroller. Sometimes you’re going towards the screen or away from it. Sometimes the game changes perspective mid-level. There was also a good variety to the levels themselves. One moment we’re riding a runaway pig. The next we’re crossing a thoroughly unsafe bridge. The next moment we’re running through dark castle corridors, hoping our limited light source won’t run out.
And I seriously would have never expected the simple act of smashing crates to have so much strategy involved, either. Some crates you jump on. Some you can smash. Other crates might get destroyed by accident when you spin an enemy into it, causing you to lose the token you needed for a bonus level. Speaking of bonuses, some of those stages were pretty darn tough and require you to have a great deal of control over Crash. It’s just this little extra level of strategy that was really fun and gave you more to do and more to think about while traversing the game’s many levels.
This review wouldn’t be complete without applauding Vicarious Visions and Activision (not sure who is more responsible) for making an excellent remaster of this classic series. The updated graphics and music are wonderful, and comparing the game to the original, I think the new voice actors are a huge improvement, as well. While I had some doubts as to how much I would enjoy the series, those doubts are all gone, and I really look forward to starting the second and third games once I finish collecting as many gems as possible. This game was an absolute joy to play, and I seriously can’t figure out why more platformers don’t use this free-roaming/side-scrolling hybrid formula, as well.
And now, dear readers, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think of the original Crash Bandicoot game (original or remake)? Who was able to play the game when it was first released, and who was introduced to the series on the PS4? If you’ve played both versions of the game, which do you like better? Please let me know in the comments below!
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on 8/28/18.