Game Review: Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (PS4)

By Adam Ouakli (@AdamOuakli)

Being a 90’s kid, if I were to list the top 3 things that I wanted in life to satisfy my need for nostalgia from a bygone era, it would look a little something like this:

1) Pokemon being real

2) Oasis reforming

3) Crash Bandicoot re-mastered

With number 1 probably being a more realistic expectation that number 2, it’s safe to rule them both out. That leaves us with number 3 on my list: Crash Bandicoot practically raised me. Since I got my first PlayStation at the age of 5, I’ve been playing the orange marsupial’s games – hell, I even used to have dreams that I was scaling the Native Fortress as a kid. It’s a game that, for me, has stood the test of time, a classic that will go down in history as one of the best trilogies every produced.

So it’s safe to say that the recent remastering of these three games, aptly titled the N.Sane Trilogy, was a very much anticipated event in the gaming sphere. They’ve had a total HD makeover and it truly shows: starting from the beginning, washing up on N. Sanity Beach again after all these years was special. I didn’t move forward in the level, I just sat for a few minutes taking it all in. It was beautiful. It is how I always dreamed a re-master of the game would look like – full of vibrant colours, amazing visuals, animations and detail like a modern cartoon and it blew me away.

Advancing in the level I noticed that even though the music has a fresher, clearer sound, it is still the basic original sound we know and love. The animations look and feel just like they should and Aku Aku, well, his “Wooga booga” had me emotional. The sound of breaking boxes, of collecting Wumpa Fruit, of jumping on a tortoise – everything is pretty much perfect. Naughty Dog who originally developed the Crash Bandicoot games in the 90s were not involved in making the re-masters, leaving the task to Vicarious Visions to bring Crash Bandicoot back into our lives, and they’ve done the originals and Naughty Dog proud.

All three games play very much like they used to as it’s a re-master not a re-haul. Personally I think this is how it should be; if too much was changed it wouldn’t feel like a proper Crash game. So far I’ve played through an awful lot of all three games and I’m absolutely loving it. I have seen countless people on social media complaining about how hard the game is, which confuses me a little. Yes, the game is tricky at times (Don’t get me started on levels like ‘Road to Nowhere’ and ‘The High Road’) but the majority of games out there will have tricky parts in them. If a game isn’t challenging it gets pretty boring pretty fast. I even read one review where the critic wrote that “the 3D throws off your depth perception” and that “the colourful designs on levels like ‘Hang ‘em High’ trick you into thinking there’s space to land on trampolines when there isn’t.” These are pretty petty complaints: the only substantial one that holds any real weight is the change in physics for Crash 1 which makes certain levels a bit more difficult than they should be.

Nine times out of ten, though, the game requires some precision and timing – when you don’t succeed at landing jumps, that’s not the game’s fault. Having completed these games before I was 10 years old, in addition to the fact that not much of the gameplay has changed from its original release, it’s odd for people to compare this to Dark Souls in terms of difficulty. Some people are either just bad at the game or have forgotten that there are several tricky levels and have lost a lot of patience now that they’re older. There have been some comments calling the game ‘monotonous’ and ‘only good for nostalgia’: well pal, if you think the game is boring then why did you buy a re-mastered version of the very same game? The games are extremely refreshing even two decades after their initial release which says a lot.

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Despite the fact that a lot has remained very similar to originals, there are a few changes that are mostly welcomed. As well as a refined saving system, something that the original Crash game was sorely missing, and online leader-boards, players are now given the chance to play as our titular hero’s laptop wielding sister Coco. While she plays exactly like her big brother, it’s a nice addition which helps the trilogy to feel like you’re playing a more improved version of the game you played years and years ago.

One thing that must be said about this trilogy is that if you’re buying it solely for that nostalgia factor, you’ll be more than stuffed. However, newcomers may feel like these feelings for a bygone genre will wear off quickly, leaving them £35 lighter and with no real urge to fully complete the games. They’re arguably limited in content though with the time trials and gems, some of which are attached with some challenges, but others may feel like the campaigns are too short: altogether I’d say it only took a few days to complete all three titles. As I’ve mentioned though, this is only an issue for those who don’t intend on getting all they can out of this game: for those that do and want to get 100% (or more *hint* *hint*) then there’s more than enough to get your money’s worth.

Overall, this trilogy has next to no shortcomings, at least ones that didn’t also come along back with the games during their original release. Criticisms regarding clipping and such are overblown considering how rare an occurrence of this could be with the only real negative these games bring being the controls being not quite as fine tuned or polished as the beautiful visuals and sound design. Every minute of these three games I’ve enjoyed thoroughly and while they aren’t perfect, enough has been done to recreate these games as perfectly as possible.

The only other criticism I have: I’m now left with the urge for a remastering of Crash Team Racing. Please Vicarious Visions, do this and I can die a happy, happy man.

8/10


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What We Want From This Year’s E3

By Adam Ouakli (@AdamOuakli)

It’s that time of year again, gamers! Yep, E3 is just around the corner and this year, it’s open to the public. With less than a week to go until the biggest event of the year on the gaming calendar, we got thinking about what exactly we want to see at this year’s show.

The event is set to run from June 13th to June 15th but before that, we are going to be treated to press conferences from the bigger companies on the days leading up to the event. Here are the times of the presentations:

Saturday 10th June

  • EA – 8pm GMT

Sunday 11th June

  • Bethesda – 5am GMT
  • Microsoft – 10pm GMT

Monday 12th June

  • Sony – 5am GMT
  • Ubisoft – 10pm GMT

Tuesday 13th June

  • Nintendo – 5pm GMT

With that out of the way, let’s see what these gaming juggernauts are set to reveal and what we want to see them announce:

Xbox Will Show Off The 4K Scorpio

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The showpiece of the weekend will inevitably be the Xbox Scorpio. No other company is revealing a new console and although we got a sneak peek at the Scorpio at last year’s E3, we expect to learn more about specs and hopefully get a release date. Microsoft has already shown us a snippet of what the console is capable of with a very short trailer of a new Forza game (which is likely to debut) but we want to see more. We want to see what its full capabilities are and what games will be released for it in glorious 4K. Perhaps Gears of War 5? Perhaps a new Halo game or re-master, perhaps not. Fans can dream.

Sony’s Main Focus Will Be On Games

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Sony will be going into E3 this year without any new hardware to reveal. This means that their focus will be almost entirely on game releases. We are expecting a whole heap of games to get excited about. We know about some of the titles we expect to be showcased already: Spider-Man, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human and the highly anticipated sequel to what many consider to be one of the greatest games of all time; The Last of Us. A new God of War game would be quite nice too. Hopefully, we’ll see trailers or even gameplay for most if not all of these titles.

What Games Do We Want To See

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We can expect a Destiny 2 trailer and a Call of Duty WWII trailer. Fingers crossed that Activision will have some gameplay to show us from CoD WWII. If we’re lucky we might even get a sneak peek at some multiplayer.

Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding will most likely make an appearance. We have already seen a short trailer of the game but we hope that there will be some new gameplay to show off.  After all who doesn’t want to see some more of Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo del Toro?

Another game some of us desperately want an update on is the Final Fantasy VII remake that was announced at E3 back in 2015. It hasn’t been long since Final Fantasy XV was released but Square Enix cannot tease fans on such a matter. This is serious stuff. We want that FF7 remake and we want it now.

Some of the bigger announcements will be coming from the likes of EA, Ubisoft and (we hope) Bethesda.

EA will inevitably showcase its yearly football instalment FIFA 18. A new Need for Speed game will also most likely be showcased. EA’s most hyped unveiling will be Star Wars Battlefront 2. After a disappointing 2015 revamp of the old classic, from what we’ve seen already, the second instalment will include different generations, and, wait for it, single player. Finally. We weren’t asking for much.

Nintendo Will Have To Amp It Up This Year

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Nintendo will have to unveil a lot of exciting things this year to keep fans interested. It’s been just over 3 months since the Nintendo Switch was released, and fans are itching for new titles to be announced with a very limited line-up so far. We’re looking for new exclusive games like a new Mario game; in particular, we expect to hear more about Super Mario Odyssey. Fans of Nintendo will be hoping and praying that a new Metroid game will be unveiled. We’ll be holding our breath. We probably shouldn’t though.

E3 Disappointment For Pokémon Fans?

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Pokémon fans who are expecting a big announcement at E3 will probably be disappointed. Nintendo broadcast its yearly Pokémon Direct on Tuesday which promised a ‘big announcement’ which left fans wondering what it could be. Could it be a new game in the series for the switch? Could it be the rumoured Pokémon Stars after the release of Sun and Moon last year?

Wrong and Wrong. Two of the series’ classics, Pokemon Gold and Silver will be coming to the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS store for download in September. Nostalgic? Yes. Exciting? Perhaps a little. Ground-breaking announcement? No.

We will be seeing two new Pokémon games, however. Announced along with Gold and Silver were two new additions to the 3DS: Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, featuring new story-lines and Pokémon but still set in Alola. Kind of like when Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 followed on from Black and White.

Oh yeah, Pokken Tournament is also coming to Switch. The Pokémon fighting game, until now only available in Japan, will be released on Nintendo Switch on September 22nd.

Nintendo’s presentation last year was a bit underwhelming despite showing off Zelda: Breath of the Wild so we’re hoping they do a bit better this year.

Ubisoft Will Show Off Some Big Titles

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Ubisoft could potentially steal the show this year in terms of unveiling new titles. A new Assassin’s Creed trailer or demo is expected along with a more detailed look at Far Cry 5 which looks like it could be the best Far Cry game to date. We’ve already been treated to a trailer of the new Far Cry but a better look at it and possibly some gameplay could make it one of the most exciting showcases of the weekend. Also, remember that South Park game that’s been shown off the past two years? You’d be forgiven for not due to the constant delays that The Fractured But Whole has recieved but with a firm 2017 release date, expect to see Ubisoft show a lot of gameplay off, or at least some sort of cinematic trailer. Let’s just forget that Mario-Rabbids crossover, okay?

Will Bethesda Deliver?

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From this year’s E3 I want one thing. One simple thing. I want an Elder Scrolls game. Prey is fine. Quake Champions is okay. They may announce a new Wolfenstein game, good. But what we all want is another Elder Scrolls game. Please, Bethesda?


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