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Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy Review: Remarkable remake of the era-defining trilogy

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We all have very fond memories of the original PlayStation days with our wired controllers and box TVs, but most of all it was the games that kept us up until all hours of the morning that we remember that most. The Crash Bandicoot series was that game for me as I remember quite fondly having to leave my console on all night as I did not have a memory card to save my game. Yes, for those who were born more recently, you needed a separate memory card to save your progress on the PlayStation back in the day - I feel so old.

When I saw the N.Sane Trilogy announced I could not wait to get my hands on the game and dive back into the classic nostalgia that is the furry marsupial. The N.Sane Trilogy is a one-to-one copy of the original trilogy on the PlayStation and everything has been remade from the ground up to look and sound like something that belongs in today's standards, but at the same time still manages to hold all that charm we fell in love with back in the day.still manages to hold all that charm we fell in love with back in the day.

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There is no doubt that the N.Sane Trilogy has been put together with much love and care. Everything looks gorgeous running on the PS4 Pro and the soundtrack has been completely remastered to bring out new tunes in the classic songs. There was nothing like sitting at the home menu of the game and tapping my fingers on the controller to the classic Crash Bandicoot theme song across all three games. Every level has its original soundtrack, which has also been remastered if not completely re-recorded to sound better than ever. I was a bit concerned at first when news broke that Activision would be redoing the sounds, but after I heard the game for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it has been polished to perfection.

Three gorgeous games in one pack

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The N.Sane collection packs all three games into one package and while they are all accessible from the start, you should play them in order just to experience how far the game's mechanics and controls grew over time. Activision has made sure that Crash's controls feel as dated as ever in the original and as you progress through the games he seems to speed up a little. It is magnificent to experience the same games throughout, but small movement adjustments make each one feel authentic and true to their classic replica.

Crash cannot slide in the first game for example, and the camera seems to be closer to Crash than on the other games. This, again, is a true replication of the three original titles as Crash only learnt his slide ability after the first adventure. Other small nuances can be found in the visuals too. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back has a subtle glow to it which makes it seems like a step up over the already-gorgeous first title in the collection. 

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We then have Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped which has larger levels and bigger hubs to explore. These are all replicated perfectly across to the PS4 version and the level design, and sheer scale of them over the first two titles again make the third instalment feel like a step above the rest. Saying that however, it never hurt to head back to the original game and tidy up some relic collections regardless of the subtle graphical differences and character movements in the other two titles. 

The N.Sane Trilogy is a package and half of content with over thirty levels across each game and dozens of things to collect and return to. The level design is still as true to the original as ever and this comes across during the most intense platforming portions. While the game starts off rather easy, by the end I found myself raging and calling Crash a rat after he failed to make the jump across or burnt himself alive by timing a jump wrong. While I swore at Crash it was actually my fault entirely as the platforming is perfect, if not as perfect as the original games. I needed to brush up my 90s platforming skills a bit.

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Trying to beat a level without dying while at the same time collecting all the boxes to earn that darn blue gem, which would let me access hidden paths in past levels, was absolute torture. At the same time, after 15 hours with the game, my platforming skills were a little more polished and I could head back and try again. darn blue gem, which would let me access hidden paths in past levels, was absolute torture. At the same time, after 15 hours with the game, my platforming skills were a little more polished and I could head back and try again. 

Nostalgia for days!

The levels got rather frustrating, but then I remembered all those PS One controllers I slammed against the floor and broke as a child trying to complete the same thing. I cannot fault the game on its difficulty at all, as it would not be fair. This is an old-school game remade for today's hardware and it would have been sacrilege if the developers toned down the difficulty to today's standards. It just goes to show how hard games were back then. Limited lives to try a level and hard platforming that requires much patience and precision to master. This is something we do not see anymore. 

As I progressed through the collection of games, all the characters and boss fights sparked a smile on my face. Each one is just as easy and hard as they were in the past. Ripper Roo is still as crazy as ever, but with an extra layer of the most realistic fur, I have seen in gaming.

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Dr.Neo Cortex still looks as sickly as ever and needs more sleep to get rid of those bags under his eyes. Lastly, the star of the show, Crash Bandicoot, is also as clumsy and wild as we know him to be. His dance moves are still a little embarrassing and his deaths in the game are as delightful as we all remember. 

While each game is somewhat the same in terms of platforming, each of them feels different enough to make them seem like you are playing three games in a series. The first game sees Crash explore the Wumpa Islands as he walks across the 3D model of each island entering different levels from nodes. The islands look great and the details on them all show off what level you are about to enter. 

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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back sees Crash explore a chamber filled with different portals to each level. Each chamber has been designed with the utmost care and detail to show off the level you are about to enter and the overall feeling that Crash is trapped and forced to find these jewels really comes to life thanks to the sights and sounds in the area.

Last, but not least, we have Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped which moved the game into a more advanced position. Exploring this time travel hub to go back in time and collect crystals is what we loved the most about the game. Crash then also has an arsenal of weapons and abilities which he obtains throughout the game to help him. A gun that shoots peaches, a whirlwind spin that lets him glide in the air, and a super slam to break metal boxes to name a few. 

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Across all three games you kind of get to experience this transition in features as Crash goes from riding a hog across a village to a boat up a stream, then to a fully-fledged motorbike. Somehow even though Warped is the most advanced, all three games feel on the same level of polish and enjoyment.

The N.Sane Trilogy then has it's gorgeous visual going for it too, which makes it stand out like never before. The levels have been rebuilt but they still have the same layout and every enemy you would have found in the PS One version is in the same spot and does the same action as the past games. Fires light up your screen in the dark, the sun shines through the trees to create gorgeous shadows on the ground and those darn bridge levels still look stunning, even with the fog obscuring your vision in the distance. 

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Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is, without a doubt, the best remake I have played this generation. With three games and over 90 levels to complete and each game with its own platinum trophy, you cannot deny the value of the experience. It also goes a long way to tell you that it looks stunning in every way. The entire game is playable with Coco too so you can switch things up if you want. Although the gameplay does not change across the two. The N.Sane Trilogy proves why we love Crash so much and why we have all been fighting so hard for some sort of reappearance in the industry. 

Take a look at just how gorgeous the game looks in 4K in the gameplay video below.

Available On: PS4 | Reviewed on: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 30 June 2017 | RRP: R629

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"all the characters and boss fights sparked a smile on my face"

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