Thursday, July 6, 2017
The Bandicoot Came Back Tough, Just Like He Always Was
Like many of my fellow Crash heads, I was eager to get down with the Bandicoot in Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy after being away from him for so long. It has been 9 years since the last Crash game and many have followed since he left the care of Naughty Dog, and they've been of varying quality. However, if any games in his history were worth giving a fresh coat of paint, it would have to be the platforming Naughty Dog trilogy. While many of us were becoming children (or in some cases, teens) all over again, a copious amount of players were voicing their frustrations and struggles with N. Sane Trilogy, more specifically towards the remake of the first Crash Bandicoot.
Upon doing some comparisons, fans discovered that the jump/landing mechanics aren't exactly the same as they were in the original PS games. When you are remaking a game from scratch, there are always going to be changes. The front cover of the N. Sane Trilogy says "remastered" but in truth, all three games on this collection were rebuilt from the ground up because the original source code is very old. (Heck, the first Crash Bandicoot is over 20 years old.) Fans are quick to cite the different jump/landing mechanics of N. Sane Trilogy as the source of the difficulty, which to me, comes across as a pretty big stretch. Lots of gamers playing Crash Bandicoot via N. Sane Trilogy haven't played the game in a very long time so they've more than likely forgotten a pretty dang huge aspect of the game and that is, surprise, surprise, the original Crash Bandicoot was always a ball bustingly hard game.
Whether you're jumping over flames in the Native Fortress, sweating bullets as you cross those awful bridges in the Road to Nowhere and the High Road, the first Crash game had a difficulty that was extremely punishing, even with the original jump physics that fans remember. It's actually quite strange that so many are focusing on the different jump physics rather than how freaking difficult the first Crash was. The PS Crash Bandicoot was much, much harder than this remake. Saving in that version sucked because you had to collect Tawna Tokens or use those stupidly long passwords. Getting 100% completion was a nightmare because dying once in a stage rest any boxes you had broken, meaning you had to complete any stage that had a gem without fail. Imagine doing this for some of the game's most fiendish levels. The whole lot of us would be sporting Ripper Roo's look and outfit.
Even when you weren't going for 100%, just trying to finish the game was a brutal because of the insanely precise platforming skills that the game demanded out of the player, especially late in game. By comparison, the remake, while still being pretty darn challenging, trims out a few of the things that made Crash 1 so hard. The game saves after every level. You don't have to complete every single level without dying to get a gem, except when it comes to color gems. Boxes found in Bonus stages count towards a level's total box count, making those gems a bit easier.
I'm not saying PS Crash Bandicoot is a bad game for having a difficulty that would make most players leave controller imprints in their walls, nor would I throw it in with the likes of Ghosts 'N Goblins, but the game is still pretty effing difficult, nonetheless. Whereas Super Mario 64 was more free roaming, non liner, Crash Bandicoot's design was much more liner and straightforward. I think that was a large part of Crash's appeal. At it's core, Crash is a simple game: go from point A to point B while busting open boxes along the way. About midway through the game, though getting to point B is easier said than done.
If I could offer some advice to make your time with Crash 1 in the N. Sane Trilogy a bit less stressful, I'll tell you to stock up on lives. The Lost City is a great place to farm them as you can keep spinning the bats that fly by throughout the level for infinite Wumpa Fruit. Lost City is also plentiful with regular 1-ups. You don't even have to finish a level you've beaten to carry out the extra lives. Just grab what you need, exit the stage and you're good. In an age where games heap extra lives at you so easily when you really don't need them, in Crash 1, you're going to need lives like you need air to breathe. Going into a level like The High Road with a mere handful of lives is just unwise.
As for the different jump/landing/hit box mechanics that some are claiming mess the game up, they really aren't that intrusive. N. Sane Trilogy just came out so in time, it could be patched. Whether they get patched or not, I'm fine either way. However, even if there is a patch, you can bet your booty that gamers will still talk about the difficulty because different physics or not, Crash (Crash 1, anyway) was always tough.