Crash Bandicoot: Nsane Trilogy is due for release on June 30, and we got to play a build of the game recently at E3 in Los Angeles. There, in the Californian heat, much of the collection was playable, with levels drawn from all three games, including boss fights. On top of this, we were also introduced to Crash's sister Coco, who will be playable for the first time, across all three games.
Coco plays very similarly to Crash, and the developers said that this was always a priority for them, as her attacks only vary in animation, not execution. For example, she has a slam attack and a spin attack just like Crash, but she slams with her behind rather than belly slamming, and spins with her legs, not her arms. She also has her own idle animations and trophies, so she has her own personality and isn't just a carbon copy of her brother. It's also worth noting that Coco can be switched out quickly with the press of a button.
The levels we played in this build showed off a lot of the three respective games, and based on the stages we sampled, our overall impression is that it's pretty impressive, particularly in regards to the finer details. Things like the timings of each action seem very much the same as they were the first time around, like the time taken for Crash to perform a spinning attack or clearing a jump; it's as we remembered from the first games. We did find it took a while to get used to, granted, but we blamed this more on our own rustiness, rather than on the game itself.
From an audio perspective, the remaster is impressive, and there's plenty in there to appeal to fans of the originals. Everything, from the music to the sound effects, has been remade to suit this modern incarnation, but it still manages to sounds almost identical to what we remember from the originals, so you can expect to hear more classic 'ooga boogas' in this version. The developers told us this was an important part of remaking/remastering the trilogy, and it definitely brought back a lot of memories for us.
In terms how it felt to play and explore, overall everything works as you'd expect it to, especially if you're familiar with the old games. All the secrets are there, hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the various stages and bonus levels. There's clearly a reason why this series was rebooted over others, and that's because there's an element of simplicity and timelessness about it, in part due to the level design that pushes you in one direction and tasks you with smashing boxes.
The attacks build into this as well, as you can either jump on enemies, spin attack, or body slam, and the hit boxes for the spin attack are satisfying too. We always tagged the enemies we were trying to with the spin attack, for example, and the slide also gave a quick alternative for moving and attacking.
We were told before our time with the demo that we'd die a lot, and clearly we must have misremembered how difficult the games actually are, because we didn't believe them. Alas, though, it was true, and there's plenty of death animations to savour when you mistime a jump or explode yourself with a crate. This difficulty comes from the quick pace and the narrow margin for error, but it never becomes obstinate, and you quickly learn how to better yourself next time.
Visually, though, it's leaps and bounds ahead of the original iterations. The developers jokingly referred to the game as the "furriest" they ever made, and it's easy to see why, because looking at the fur effects alone you can tell that this is a very modern game. Lighting and colours also build into the graphically impressive nature of the offering, with everything fans remember being taken into the modern day. All of this runs smoothly as well, so while it takes some time to get used to the pace of the action, it still very much feels like a Crash Bandicoot game.
With Nsane Trilogy coming out in a few weeks, there's no reason why Crash Bandicoot fans won't like this remaster, as pretty much everything from the trilogy has been faithfully recreated, with few creative liberties taken by the developers. The simplicity of the gameplay will likely be enough to draw new fans into loving Sony's mascot. Add to that the fact that Crash is joined by Coco across all three games, and we're excited to see it all comes together at the end of the month.