By William Haderlie / August 24th, 2017
The Crash Bandicoot games were also rather infamous for their difficulty. While the Mario games had their peaks and valleys, for the most part they were a lot easier than the Crash games. The first game in particular was pretty brutally difficult, and that does not change in this remaster. So I would strongly recommend that if you get stuck or frustrated with the first game, to perhaps skip right to the second game. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is still not an easy game by today’s standards, but its balance is a bit tighter. In all of these games, even if you do run out of lives you can just continue, and you will get five more lives. The only real penalty to continuing is that you will lose any checkpoint progress that you have on that particular level. But there are some stages that are brutal enough that you may get stuck. Generally you might also skip right to the second game for the simple fact that over time, it seems like it became the game that typified the series in people’s minds. Kind of like with Super Mario Brothers 3, the series really came into its own with Crash Bandicoot 2.
The second game of the series also added weather effects into the stages, from rain to heat to ice. All these effects added varying degrees of difficulty for Coco and her stupid brother—the ice in particular was rough going. But water really started to enter the series as an important obstacle and mode of transportation (a motorized surf board joined the series). So the levels got quite a bit more varied, and there was also much more vivid storytelling, featuring a lot more voice acting by both Cortex and Coco. In the first game the only real secrets were the gems that you could gain by finding every chest in each level (time trials were added with this new version), but in the sequel there were hidden gems within the level. Additionally, boxes, gems, and time trials were added for an additional reward. So really, there were a lot more reasons to go back and replay the levels, even after you had completed them the first time. Crash Bandicoot was a good game for its time, but it definitely shows its age. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back remains a great game even now.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped was a bit divisive when it was released. There was a lot more focus on story and variety in the stages, with barely even half of the stages resembling the classic Crash formula. And it was very obvious even to the layperson that Naughty Dog were ready to move on, and they were really stretching their creative muscles to warm up for their next project (which turned out to be Jack and Daxter). However, in my opinion, this game has also aged the best of all three. It’s less about the story and more about what they were able to do with remastering all the crazy variety of levels from the original. The waveracing sequences, motorcycle racing, undersea diving, and even the cat racing sections all look and play great in this modern remake. That variety may have turned off some gamers originally, but especially after playing all three games together, it offers a welcome respite. Yes, the story is not anything to be particularly nostalgic about, but you do learn more about the world of Crash and the tikis. For making Coco the more prominent character (even having stages that are exclusive to her) alone has improved it in my estimation.
The story of Crash Bandicoot: Warped ratchets up a notch by moving the primary bad guy from the foolish and incompetent Cortex to a truly evil tiki god. But mostly what the story does is provide an excuse for time travel, which allows much more variety in the stages. This conceit really allowed Naughty Dog to go wild with the variety of stages that they could come up with. The hub world style returns from the second game, only a little more open than before. But when given your choice of six levels per time period you will quickly notice how extremely different they all are from each other. The small complaint about that variety could be that it’s a bit disjointed when half of the levels in a hub feel almost like a different game. But none of them require massively different control schemes or any greater reflexes than you need for the regular levels. In my opinion the negatives to the variety are far more than made up for by the positives, and none of those different methods of play are particularly irritating or taxing.
The third game even added some action RPG elements, like gaining new abilities and ability modifiers by defeating a boss. As a result, by the time you finish Warped, Coco and Crash will have a much larger set of moves to use than they did in previous games. This means that some stages and bosses will be a bit trickier to get through, but it still remains satisfying. But it does make it a little more difficult to go back to the other games where you didn’t have such a variety of skills, let alone the variety in stages. The last advantage that the third game has exclusive to this remaster is that the wide variety of stages and time periods really pushed the team at Vicarious Visions to make some really stellar upgrades to the look of the game. In fact, some of the stages in Crash Bandicoot: Warped look better than any you see in modern platformer games.
The one major complaint I have about this remaster is the excessive loading times. They aren’t as bad as some modern games I’ve seen (such as Final Fantasy XV or Bloodborne, at least initially), but for such an old game it is a bit annoying. Even with a bit of polish in the graphics department you would think that the PlayStation 4 has more than enough RAM to at least be able to skip on the very long opening sequence every time you boot up the game. Trust me, when playing this game I would strongly recommend you just place your PS4 in sleep mode instead of cancelling out of the game (unless you need to play something else on the device). The only other real complaint would be that a lot of modern conventions are not there—of particular note is the brutal difficulty that I mentioned before. But I consider that second issue to be a very minor one and down to the taste of the person playing the game. To many that difficulty is a feature, not a detraction. There are really no complaints to be had over the music and sound effects, as they sound far better than they did in their original incarnation. But you will definitely notice how much better they get with each game, and obviously there is a lot more voice acting to be found in Warped! than there was in the first game. All of it has really aged well, though.
There was a lot of love and a ton of polish added to this remaster. And I cannot finish this review without commenting on the general reception this game has received. There is a general sense of astonishment in the gaming press about this title selling like gangbusters, but I think they need to re-examine the facts if they are all that surprised. As I started off this review stating, this era of nostalgia was always coming around. The Crash series may have petered out after Naughty Dog left it, but this is still an important series for a generation of gamers that are now in their 30s. Now that it was so successful Activision has stated that more games like this will be released in the future. Where would I like to see them go? The picture above should tell you (Crash Team Racing). But I expect them to invest most heavily into remastering the Spyro games. This game offered about 20 hours of updated nostalgia for only $29.99, so if they keep up with this degree of polish they have my full support. It was a really special experience to go back to these great games and see them with a new sheen of polish.
Review Copy Provided by Play-Asia. Please use our affiliate link below if you would like to purchase a copy.
Pages: 1 2ActivisionCrash BandicootCrash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes BackCrash Bandicoot N. Sane TrilogyCrash Bandicoot: WarpedNaughty DogPlay AsiaPlayStation 4SonyVicarious Visions