The 1990s brought many memorable video games. And Crash Bandicoot is one of that era's gems.
The orange marsupial mascot started as an exclusive to PlayStation and has made appearances on other platforms such as Nintendo Game Boy and the first Xbox.
The series went quiet after Nitro Kart 2 in 2010. But Crash Bandicoot resurfaced last year as a cameo in Skylanders: Imaginators. It also made a short run in a segment of Uncharted 4, rekindling the buzz and interest in the series. Fortunately, we did not have to wait long for a fuller resurgence.
N Sane Trilogy features a rebuild of the first three games - Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back and Warped - that were released on the original PlayStation back then.
But this is not a mere remaster edition. Developer Vicarious Visions has recreated many aspects of the game within the blueprint of the original, including enhancing the look, improving the animation, arranging for a fresh recording of the dialogue and soundtrack, and adding new features.
From the menu screen, you will notice a cleaner visual look, bright lighting and enhanced effects of three branching paths, each representing a game. The menu design allows players to switch around the three games with ease.
PRICE: $74.90 (PS4 exclusive)
Autosaves are enabled, but you can change to manual save so that you can store your best save files separately. This is useful if you want to "farm" for character upgrades such as player life tokens, before attempting the challenging segments.
The core gameplay is similar across all three titles, with the exception of the terrains, puzzles and available mounts. You control Crash as he attempts to overcome hurdles and manoeuvre his way to the finish line. Depending on the setup, the camera will shift its angle. The character can be seen running forward, coming towards the player, moving side to side, or from a top-view.
This variety challenges the player to adjust when timing Crash's jumps, spins and slides. Power ups can be obtained from breaking crates. Doing so will have you gathering Wumpa fruit, or collecting player lives for second chances, or earning a floating tribal mask that gives brief invulnerability.
Those who have completed these titles before will be pleased with the faithful recreation of the original, including the locations of gems and keys. I enjoyed watching boss fights and victory scenes in high definition. Newcomers may be taken aback by the steep learning curve. Speedy reflexes and well-timed key presses are necessary, as well as being aware of what comes ahead. Practice and patience remain the mantra that veteran hardcore gamers live by.
Those looking to extend their bragging rights upon beating the game can show off their best completion record on an online leaderboard, or aim to collect the full suite of PlayStation Trophies. Unfortunately, cheat codes will not work in this remake and they are dearly missed.
Crash is not the only playable character. You can switch to his cousin, Coco, for a change. She has her own set of quips and animation; occasionally seen playing with her phone and always lugging her pink laptop along.
I hope to see more titles from the last century given a similar treatment and spotlight.
•Verdict: Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy is a pleasant revisit of a classic favourite and its simple but challenging game mechanics.
•Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer