Game Night, Video Games

Crash Bandicoot: Classic Doesn’t Mean Good (Game Night!)

You thought I’d be talking about another Fire Emblem, didn’tcha?

Comparing the Playstation exclusives of old and the now is an odd experience. Nowadays, most games found only on the Playstation are photo-realistic action adventures. They’re games with incredible motion capture technology, intricate stories, and often times: lots of violence! Be it against zombies, beings from another realm, robot dinosaurs or other humans, these games tend to have a lot of violence.

Now look back to the days of the PS1. The most adult-exclusive on that thing was Final Fantasy 7! Playstation audiences weren’t worried about how realistic the character models where! They were fighting over which cartoon character was the console’s mascot!

I am of course referring to Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about Spyro today. That would mean I’m talking about something I like.

While I do have nostalgia for a lot of classic games, I harbor no such feelings towards Crash Bandicoot. It was one of those franchises that slipped me by completely! I didn’t even know the series existed until my early teenage years. Even then, I didn’t get around to playing it until The N. Sane Trilogy came out.

Safe to say, my expectations were pretty high. I mean, people compared him to Spyro the Dragon! Spyro is one of my favorite PS1 games! Surely that means that these games are great!

No. No, it doesn’t.

This game has aged super fucking poorly! It does have plenty of good things going for it, but almost each and every one has a caveat attached to it! For every one minute of fun I had playing it, I had thirty minutes of pure frustration! The game has aged so poorly that it has become difficult to play, not because of the levels or the enemies or the bosses but because of the shitty, ultra-precise platforming!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s talk about the good things.

Plot: A Saturday Morning Story

If you’re expecting a thrilling story with intriguing drama, lovable and relatable characters, and incredible set pieces, you’ll be disappointed. This game doesn’t set out to tell an intricate story. Much like most platformers from this era, the story only exists to give you a reason to go through each level.

Doctor Neo Cortex is a mad scientist aiming for world domination. Unfortunately, he has a problem: he doesn’t have a leader for his army of super animals! In his attempts to make one, he genetically alters a bandicoot. Unfortunately, the experiment goes wrong, and he creates his worst enemy: Crash Bandicoot!

Crash escapes from Cortex’s lab with his new abilities and ends up washed up on a nearby shore. Now, Crash must make his way through various levels to get back to Cortex’s lab, defeat the evil genius, and save his kidnapped girlfriend! Along the way, he’ll smash boxes, send enemies flying, gather gems, and have a grand ol’ time!

It’s a Saturday morning cartoon. That’s the plot. You’re probably expecting me to critique it and tear into it. But honestly? A simple kid’s story, one that doesn’t force me to think about every detail of the world and characters, is a refreshing change of pace! It isn’t a story that I’ll remember for being great, yes. But it’s exactly what it needs to be, and it does a great job at it!

Visuals: LOOK AT HIS FUR!!

The cartoon aesthetic doesn’t end with the story! This whole game looks like something I’d see on a Saturday morning as a kid! It is absolutely gorgeous, front to back!

Everything is bright, vibrant and colorful! Each character model is highly animated, bending and curving in impossible ways like an old-fashioned cartoon! Everything is just so lively and fun!

Better yet, it runs as smooth as butter! I played it on PC (heresy, I know), so I got to experience the whole thing at 60 FPS! Every single movement in this game, from Crash’s little dances to the flowing water in the river, is smooth, exaggerated and fun!

This game also has incredible attention to detail! Crash looking back at the boulder as it bears down on him, the reflections in the water, the little motions of every enemy, and of course: the various death animations! It’s clear that a ton of work went into upgrading this PS1 classic into a modern visual gem!

Now, there is one issue that carries over from it being a PS1 game. See, while each level is gorgeous, they do have one major problem: most of them look the same.

Every boulder level looks exactly the same as the last. Every river level feels the same. Every electric sewer (how else would you describe those?) feels like a copy-paste of the one that came before it.

I understand why this is the case. This game was made on the PS1, back when you had to recycle assets in order to elongate your game. If the N. Sane Trilogy changed that, it wouldn’t be a faithful remake! So criticizing it for its age is probably a waste of my time.

But I already wasted my time playing this fucking game, so I’ll do it anyway.

Gameplay: 3D Platformers and Precision Don’t Mix

Hoo boy. Buckle the fuck up for this part. I get the feeling I’m about to make some enemies here. So, to play it safe, I’m going to open this segment up with one of my favorite quotes in regards to the gameplay of Crash Bandicoot.

When Reggie was developing Mario 64, he discovered that jumps requiring pin-point precision just did not fly in a 3D space. Naughty Dog, however, said “FUCK THAT SHIT JUMP ON THIS SHITTY TURTLE KID EXCEPT IT WON’T EVEN BOUNCE YOU FAR ENOUGH TO GET OVER THE FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT BRIDGE!”
-videogamedunkey, ‘Game Critics’

This game is exceptionally simple. As Crash, you run around levels and jump on/break boxes and enemies or knock them away with your spin attack. By holding down the jump button, you can gain an extra bit of height and distance to your jump. In each level, you can collect various items that can unlock extra bonus areas, allow Crash to survive more than one hit, or just give him an extra life. Every few levels, you fight a boss. So on and so forth until the game is over.

It isn’t a complex game. Nor is it a hard one. The game is completely doable.

But it is far from fun.

This game requires jumps that are ultra-precise! If you’re off by even an inch, you’ll end up falling and dying, losing one of your precious lives! This shouldn’t be too hard, if not for three things.

First: the controls. These controls have aged like ass! It was meant to be played on a D-Pad, which makes navigating in a 3D space stiff and awkward. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever worked with, but they don’t work half as well as they need to.

Second: depth perception. Thanks to the game’s various camera angles, it is super hard to tell where or when you need to jump or how far you need to do so! There were times when I couldn’t even see there was a jump there at all until it was too late! Often times, I’d try to make what I assumed to be a long jump only to overshoot it and plummet to my death!

Third: the hit detection. This one partially ties into the depth perception problem. Sometimes enemies or various attacks would make contact, even if the animation itself didn’t touch Crash’s model. The hitboxes in this game are wonkier than the fucking Terminator’s anti-air in Mortal Kombat 11!

These three problems put together ruin any fun I had playing this game! At no point did I feel like I was fighting the levels or the bosses. I always felt like I was struggling with the mediocre controls, shitty depth-perception, and wonky hitboxes! Almost like a school bully, they always appeared in time to ruin my fun just when I started having it!

“Just get used to it!” I can hear nostalgic Crash fans yelling at me. “That’s what we did! Once you’re used to it, it isn’t that bad!” Well, to that I say: fuck that! I shouldn’t need to get used to a game to enjoy it! Stop defending your childhood and simply accept that it’s aged as well as a corpse! You’re still allowed to enjoy it!

I’m not judging you. I’m judging the game. There is a big difference.

Conclusion

3D platformers are my favorite genre of games. Psychonauts is my favorite game of all time! Jak and Daxter was the first game I ever played (and it’s a far better version of Crash, fight me)! Spyro, while it has only aged a bit better than Crash has (again, fight me), has a big place in my heart! I love this genre to death, so I thought that I’d adore Crash!

I have never been hurt so badly to be wrong.

Unless you have a lot of nostalgia for Crash Bandicoot, then I recommend passing on Crash Bandicoot. It is a classic, yes. But it doesn’t hold up at all in today’s day and age!

It is a product of the ’90s. And if you ask me: it should stay there.

And so far, I can safely say that I feel very similar to the second game. Which gives me no hope for game number three.

On second thought, maybe I should have reviewed ‘Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon’ after all…

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