Does Crash’s new look bode well for the N. Sane Trilogy?

Does Crash’s new look bode well for the N. Sane Trilogy?
Samuel Riley Updated on by

Video Gamer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Learn more

Unlike many of my chums I never had an older brother. Mum and Dad just wouldn’t allow it. “Temporal paradox” they called it… And so it was that I grew up without any of the hand-me-down gaming systems that so many of my pals took for granted. We’re talking NES, SNES, Mega-Drives and the like, console classics sporting equally classic mascots and all of them just a little bit lost on me. What was a ‘Sonic’, anyhow? Which one was Zelda, and why were Nintendo pushing a gouty, pint-sized Burt Reynolds? I was perplexed. 

It wasn’t until Christmas Day of 1997 that I too became a gamer, and a certain mischievous marsupial came bounding into my life. Suffice it to say that this Crash Bandicoot would soon became my go-to mascot, and to this day I still consider his early efforts to be all-time classic titles. I am, for lack of a better phrase, something of a Crash fanatic, which is why the prospect of a wholesale trilogy remaster filled me with such ebullient glee.  

Make no mistake here, I’d have taken an all-new entry in a heartbeat so long as it eschewed the nonsense of recent Crash outings. Hell, maybe we could even get Naughty Dog involved – have the original devs perform a quick lap of honour on it in between award acceptance speeches. Still, perhaps this was just Activision’s way of testing the waters, of gauging fan reaction ahead of an all-new adventure. In any case, I was excited – both for the series and for my fellow fans. Then I actually saw the thing.

Crash N Sane Trilogy Tongue Out

Now, I’d be lying if I said my first reaction was a positive one. Crash has always been a bit of an oddball it’s true, but the remaster’s trailer seemed to be painting him as some sort of unrestrained goof, of the sort we’d have been only too happy to leave pinned underneath of that boulder. The emphasis on silly faces and big eyebrows – never a hallmark of the character to begin with – also felt disconcertingly false, like an unhip uncle trying to appeal to the kids. To be sure, those eyebrows were always there, but they were never exactly a talking point – not like Sonic’s red shoes or Mario’s Stalinist moustache.

Where the overall art style is concerned I’d argue that the game looks just a little bit washed out, whilst also appearing a tad dark in places. That’s dark in the sense of brightness, not tone, you understand – so don’t expect to see Crash delivering any heartfelt sermons on the majesty of suffering, at least not until the inevitable DLC drops. Crash himself also comes across as bit of a weird blend of influences. There’s that same awful sheen that marked his later, non-Naughty Dog models, coupled with his slightly larger frame from the original. Gone is the cooler, more expressive look achieved in Cortex Strikes Back and Warped, replaced by what can only be described as Eugene Levy as a furry.

In truth this is a thoroughly acceptable, but by no means superior, rendering of the character, and one that I’ll be interested to see if it changes for games two and three. Maybe Activision will go the whole hog (or hog wild perhaps?) and throw in a small selection of playable skins, à la Rise of the Tomb Raider. A man can dream, can’t he? Oh, and while we’re on the topic of art direction, what on earth is up with those in-game items? They look for all the world like the sorts of assets you’d see in low-cost mobile title, to say nothing of those damnable new crates. They’re supposed to be dark brown Activision, you monster.

Crash Jump N Sane Trilogy

So, what else would I like to see? Well, some footage of the latter two games would certainly be nice, though by no means necessary or even expected at this point. I’d also like the developers to integrate elements of the later games back into the original, namely the many challenges that made replaying Crash Bandicoot: Warped such an enduring joy. A quick-save, quick-load system would also be a treat, effectively removing any last vestiges of frustration from these classic platform titles, though purists may wish to argue this point. 

These small quibbles aside, I will say that I am now beginning to warm up to the N.Sane collection, even with that god-awful excuse for a title. I still think the trailer was poor, but given the recent release of new footage – thankfully removed from the enforced zaniness of the trailer – I’m once again reminded of the chief draw of this series. Crash Bandicoot is all about the fun, so much so that he practically exudes the stuff. So long as Activision can nail the basic beats of the series, with its smooth, unobtrusive gameplay then this will be a remaster well worth the price of admission.