At the beginning of this year, Sony reinvigorated the Ratchet & Clank franchise with the surprisingly excellent PlayStation 4 remake of the first Ratchet & Clank (and a rather unfortunate feature film). That Ratchet & Clank remake proved that there was a high demand for re-imagined old games, and it perfectly managed to capture the spirit of the original while imbuing it with the lessons learned from over a decade of refinement. Activision and developer Vicarious Visions are taking a similar approach with the upcoming remakes of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, but it's much more focused on preservation than refinement.
We got some quality time with the latest build of Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy at PSX 2016, and the thing that immediately grabs one's attention is that this is a pretty game. Much akin to Ratchet & Clank, Crash Bandicoot isn't afraid of showing off goofy visuals in gloriously detailed HD environments. Crash's densely detailed coat of orange fur now makes him resemble a marsupial pipe cleaner. The camera has a slight motion blur effect as you move through stages, and there's hardly a sharp edge or jagged polygon in sight. Colours pop and environments are filled to bursting with more charming detail than ever before. From a visual standpoint, this is a physical embodiment of the idealised version of the game that you see in your mind when you recall it fondly from your younger years.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is exactly what it was from over 20 years ago. We got to play through the iconic first level, N. Sanity Beach, and a much harder level from later in the game, Heavy Machinery. What was immediately apparent in our run through is that Vicarious Visions has gone to great pains to ensure that this is essentially a beat-for-beat reproduction of what came before, right down to the exact placement of every box. From what we've seen, it's done a remarkable job in this endeavour, but there's still a feeling that perhaps it did the job a little too well.
Sure, you can control Crash with the analogue stick in all three games now, but you'll very quickly go back to the D-Pad when the occasionally unforgiving controls get in the way. If you tilt the stick the slightest hint in the wrong direction as Crash is coming down on a platform, there's a good chance that he'll overshoot it entirely. If you don't initiate a spin attack within inches of touching an enemy, it'll probably be out of range and you'll just spin in place. The Crash remake looks like a PS4 game, but it still plays like a PSone game.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. After all, if Vicarious Visions took liberties in the game design to make it "easier", there'd likely be an outcry that the studio wasn't faithful to the games. And really, no other platformer has physics that feel quite the same as Crash; the difficulty is an integral part of its charm. This particular writer took great pride in clearing a bonus stage that the developer said only one man in the Vicarious Visions office was capable of clearing. It's certainly a fun game to play, and it speaks volumes to the timeless nature of the original.
It'll be interesting to see, then, what the final product looks like. The developer we were with was coy on the subject of additional modes or other changes, so there's a good chance that there will be more to this Crash remake than just straight ports of the original three games with a fresh coat of paint. However, it seems likely that this remake will more or less emulate the gameplay and difficulty of the originals flawlessly, with very little tweaking or adjustment to some arguably outdated gameplay elements. Whether that's a positive or a negative will ultimately depend upon how much you enjoyed the original games. Either way, this is clearly being made as a love letter to fans of the original Crash games, and we can't wait to see more of it as we move through 2017.
Will you be binging on Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy like it's a Wumpa fruit pie? Do you think more should be done to modernise the gameplay, or do you want it to play like the PSone originals? Spin attack the comments section below, and let us know.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. After all, if Vicarious Visions took liberties in the game design to make it "easier", there'd likely be an outcry that the studio wasn't faithful to the games
Not from me there wont be. Remove the absolute bullcrap around getting gems in Crash 1, add the full box counter from Crash 3 to the other 2, and we are good. The only reason I cant stand Crash 1 is the slightly off controls and heavy leaning jumps, and THOSE DAMN GEMS. Seriously. Make it work like it is in Crash 2 and 3. Checkpoints save your Box progress and you don't need to beat the stages in one life to get the gems. Please.
That is my only problem with the original. If the controls have to be the same, fine, whatever, Sonic gets moaned at for that too, but if there is better game design available, DO IT.
Glad it's keeping the difficulty. I've been slowly working my way to 100% in DK Tropical Freeze and it has been pretty tough, but rewarding.
@BLP_Software there was some talk on kinda funny about what had been done and the changes that had been made, think it might be along the lines of what you said in your comment, apologies if its not
@teknium_ Just saw the b-roll footage. They added time trials from Crash 3, there is the Crash 3 end of level box counter and the same style counter from 3 in the bonus stages too.
Let us pray, very, very hard, that the BS gems are removed.
Also in the footage, did N. Sanity Beach look a bit...dull as you went up to the jungle part? I think it lost some vibrancy.
I think they've added more checkpoints.
Sounds like the remasters update the visuals bigly but keep the gameplay and level design exactly the way they were. While that will probably lead people to quickly notice the limitations of the dated gameplay, it's great from the standpoint of a person who enjoys the games the way they were originally designed. I kind of wish SE was taking this approach with FFVIIR instead of changing stuff.
Wasn't the biggest fan of the Crash Bandicoot games but I do remember thinking the second was pretty decent. This collection won't top my list but I may look into buying it later on after some price drops. It's nice to see the developers going to great lengths to deliver for long time fans.
I thought these games were boring and clunky 20 years ago. If the only thing changing are the graphics, then count me out.
Sounds like it's what I thought it was gonna be, a mostly visual upgrade with some extras. That's fine with me.
@BLP_Software The only problem I had with the original was needing a perfect level run to get a gem. I'm fine with making the checkpoints save your box count, but I think the gems should be as they are. I'd like it if the first game kept some of it's challenge and secrets, and saving the box count makes the game significantly easier by itself.
@DerMeister Well if checkpoints don't save your box total...whats the difference from doing it in one run without dying, since some levels are areas you cant backtrack in. I just want that entire aspect of the game, and pretty much the only reason boxes were ever added were so it wasn't boring, to be more fun, more enjoyable, and less "Kick you in the balls"..
I like how Crash responds negatively to having boxes dropped on his skull. It mirrors my reaction too. Especially if it's 4 boxes hidden behind the camera over invisible platforms at the start of the level, r boxes you need to hit a ! box for, but aren't ever indicated as being there.
There are parts of Crash 1 that seriously need to be redone, mostly involving the key aspect of any level: Getting the damn Gems. A perfect run in some of these stages is god damn unforgiving, some of the boxes should be better indicated, like in later games they added outlines for hidden boxes, this game (Upstream I believe, or Up the Creek, one of the two) has an offside bit that has nothing suspicious about it. No indication you can even go over there. Hidden boxes. Why?
Crash 2 and 3 work fine (Pull the camera back more when backtracking please!), but Crash 1...that game just...uggghhhhh.
@BLP_Software at first i thought it did, then i was like actually no it looks great...watched again and now im not sure, personally im finding hard to watch any footage WITHOUT my rose tinted specs on, but i do get what you mean
@BLP_Software na keep the gems its a feat to get them and proves your damn good at the game sorry if you cant get them thats your problem not mine i know i can get them on the psx game
@Ypmud I can get them. Doesnt mean it isnt frustrating. Getting 100% is a feat in 2 and especially 3 but in the original? Yeah its hard but a good chunk of that time is spent doing it over. And over. And over. Knowing one misstep from a dodgy jump or mistimed platform or poorly placed box or slightly off mechanic will firce you to do it again. And again.
That becomes less of a rewarding feat and more endurance. Im sorry if you think its easy but in truth compared to nearly ever other game with something like this, that method was poor even by 1996.
The difficulty in the original games was fine imo. I'll be a bit disappointed it these games are just easier, carbon-copies that just look prettier. The PS1 trilogy still holds up relatively well today anyway.
It'd be cool if they added all of Crash's moves into the first game (ie sliding, bodyslam etc) but it doesn't appear that they have.
That said, I'm still glad Crash is back in the mainstream as my main hope is that we can finally get a good new Bandicoot game along the same lines of the originals and Wrath of Cortex.
I never owned 1 but loved 2 and specially 3 so I am dying to get this one.
@BLP_Software Look at it this way: At least we know what to do when this comes out.
The 1st Crash game was hard, still loved it though. Can't wait for this.
I can't wait for this. By the way, there was another old classic that was remastered on the PS4 that was a platform adventure...anyone actually play The Legend Of Kay??? It's a pretty decent game, but I don't think it sold well. I'd honestly love to re-play some of the older platform titles with updated graphics...Can we get the Original Spyro The Dragons, Tomba, Croc, Goemon, Chameleon Twist, Gex, James Pond, Earthworm Jim (at least part 2, since part 1 was re-mastered in HD), Aero The Acrobat, Glover (could work better with VR), Vexx, Whiplash and just out of the clear blue, how about the first 3 Fatal Frames????
@BLP_Software I think they did. There's now a box counter at the end of levels, and I think you can die and still get the gem now. Saw someone resume from a checkpoint and have the boxes before that already broken. The bonuses are more similar to 2 and 3, with a platform instead of just beaming up (so you get unlimited tries), a box count at the bottom of the screen, and the BONUS letters at the top; the trade off is you now have to get the boxes in the bonuses to get the gem.
This looks AMAZING The 1st one was hard tho :-/ Because you couldn't see Crash shadow when you jumped but I saw in the updated version he has a shadow now. So the 1st level should be easier near the end bit then
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