Real Talk By: Jason Johns
It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just hurriedly finished a bowl of cereal. I eject the latest Tekken game from my PlayStation and decide to start the day with something lighter and more cartoonish, so I begin playing the newest Crash Bandicoot. I find myself engrossed in tropical beats and the hunt for crystals of one type or another. I’m spinnin’ to win all over time and space, battling with Tigers, Dingoes, and short scientists with dubious plans for world domination. I hear a faint buzzing and something scratches at the back of my mind, a call back to the real world, but I can’t answer, Cortex is amassing gems or something. Only I and my crack team of adorable animal buddies can stop him! The buzzing gets louder until I have no choice but to give it attention. I look down at my phone, my cellular phone. It’s 8:30am. It’s Monday, not Saturday. I have to go to work because this is 2017 not 1997 and I’m 30, not 10.
What’s happened America? Jay-Z has a new album out, there’s a new Spider-Man movie in the theater, and Crash Bandicoot is back and he needs our help! The late 90’s are knocking, and soon everybody’s gonna want some JNCO Jeans and Code Red Mountain Dew. Video game companies are cashing in on nostalgia, but in our brave new world full of drone delivery services and self-driving cars is their room for a shirtless marsupial with a fruit addiction and a penchant for mischief? I’m here to tell you, yes.
The N. Sane Trilogy plays like a dream, and if you spend too much time in front of it you will lose all meaning of time and space. I have been waiting for a Crash title to come to the PlayStation store since I had to help a certain Nathaniel Drake defeat the foe that is marital strife in Uncharted 4’s Bandicoot flavored easter egg, and this is just the shot of nostalgia juice I needed.
It honestly feels as if no time has passed since the original Crash games were released, the gameplay came naturally to me and I was acing levels at the start. I’ve read that the human body regenerates and replaces all of its cells every 7 years (with the exception of some neurons and bones) which begs the question, am I the same human who played this game 20 years ago? The boulder levels would suggest that yes; this Ship of Theseus is indeed the same as it was in 1997. However, this ship can drink alcohol, not just milk and Surge Pop, and later levels reveal that while some muscle memory will never diminish, time ravages all.
There have been complaints that the controls had not been updated or streamlined, but to me this feels purposeful. The game controls exactly like the originals, with each title feeling more and more polished, just as they had when originally released.
I was surprised that the lateral movements didn’t feel off given that the title is in widescreen as opposed to its original 4X3 format, whatever wizardry Naughty Dog implemented made this a smooth transition. Some of the physics do feel strange, but I can’t tell if this due to my mind melting or if there are some new forces at play.
In the past I was forced by my younger brothers to play certain levels over and over again, basically anything where you’re running away from something, and jumping back into these is super easy. But some levels were exceedingly difficult, I lost 30 lives on Hog Wild. 30. That’s all my lives and years lost to a damn pig.
The N. Sane Trilogy offers some new content; there are now time trials for all levels across the board, which could create some fun competition if you have buddies over. You can also now play as Crash’s sister Coco in most levels, she has the same abilities as out titular hero and performs them all while holding a pink laptop. A plus side to playing as Coco is not having to see Crash’s weird crouch-emphasizing celebratory dance moves, which felt dated in 1996 and make him look like he’s waiting for a Limp Bizkit reunion.
There are also a few hidden levels, none of which I have found or played, I’m too busy bathing in Nostalgia butter. One key feature is the save system, which seems obvious for today’s audience, but if you didn’t own a memory card back in the day you had to write down and keep a long confusing string of triangles, circles, and arrows to enter as a password to return you to the last “save”. I have tomes of discarded notebooks filled with crudely written hieroglyphs that will puzzle future archeologists, although given how our culture seems to be repeating itself every 20 years or so, maybe they will be celebrating the release of the Crash Bandicoot Zany Warp Backem-up Cortex 47 trilogy.
Overall the games feel great, and it’s a welcome addition to my current library. I’d be interested to see what somebody unfamiliar with the original titles would think, but ultimately that doesn’t matter to me. This game is fun because the originals were so well made, and so absurdly fresh that they have yet to feel stale. With rumors of a Spyro remake around the corner it’s time fill your cereal bowls and put on some Jay-Z and accept that time is a circle, set in motion by a whirling marsupial.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Gets
4 out of 5
+Seamless throwback and Grade-A nostalgia
-The price tag. Can you put a price on your childhood? Yes, apparently $40.00. But it could have been $30.00 and then I could have gotten a burrito as well. Crash would have wanted that.