Hello everybody, SlimKirby here!
I am here today to present to you guys, for a change, a website article! It’s been awhile (not counting the Simpsons Retrospectives) since I’ve actually done some writing like this and this is something I would like to start getting into the habit of doing as I continue to complete games on my very huge backlog. Essentially, I’m going to be talking about a game I’ve recently beaten/completed, give my impressions of the different aspects of the game, talk about a few of my experiences, and just in general sum up how I felt about the overall experience.
Today; I’m going to talk about the Sony Playstation classic; Crash Bandicoot. This is a game I’ve been aware of since it initially came out for the Playstation all of those years ago. Although, I never personally owned a Playstation console, but rather it was my next-door neighbors that did. Because of this, I only got to play these games when I went over to their house, which honestly, wasn’t very often. It was during these visits that I got my first taste of Crash Bandicoot, and later, Crash Bandicoot 2. I remember the games being 3D platformers, but not in the same sense as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, two other games I was more familiar with (because I actually owned them). They were 3D in the sense that the models were in 3D, and in most of the stages you could move in any direction, but the levels themselves were more structured like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. Instead of going left to right though, a majority of Crash’s levels involved you moving forwards and backwards. This is why this series was generally known as the “Sonic’s Ass,” game, because your eyes were generally more focused on the behind of the character you were controlling. I found the Crash games very interesting and entertaining, for what little time I got to play them, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until 2017 (this very year) until I got to own my very first Crash platformer.
I got a Playstation 2 for Christmas when it first came out, and although Crash Bandicoot was on my radar, I was definitely interested in other games first. Final Fantasy VII was the first game I really “HAD” to own, and it was around this time that I got obsessed with Dynasty Warriors as well, so once I got too far down those rabbit holes, I kind of started forgetting about Crash. I did manage to pick up the game “Crash Bash” for Playstation 1, as it seemed like a party game, a type of genre I was also getting very into at the time, but this game was often considered an irrelevant spin-off to the majesty that was the Crash Bandicoot platformers and the other, better-received spin-off; Crash Team Racing. In the past year however, I managed to go on a bit of a Crash Bandicoot buying spree, picking up Crash Team Racing at Magfest 2016, Crash 2 and 3 at Magfest 2017, and then I found Crash 1 on Amazon for very cheap,which encouraged me to pick up that game as well, fully completing my collection of the original trilogy and generation of Crash Bandicoot.
I was heavily inspired to get these games for a couple of reasons; for one, after I discovered how awesome Ratchet and Clank was, it got me interested in a majority of the Sony platformer games, and naturally Crash Bandicoot was on that list as well. Second, after watching playthroughs of the Let’s Play channel, Super Gaming Bros., it got me intrigued to try the games for myself. And third, like I said before, even though it was brief, I did have a little bit of a history with these games and I think it’s important to own the games that you had some sort of connection with. I’m sure a lot of you guys are probably asking me why I bought all of the old games as opposed to buying the newly-released “Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy,” which is basically a remade version of all three games for the price of one retail game. Well, I didn’t buy that for the sole reason that I do not own a Playstation 4 to play that game, so this was the only way I could experience them. I also do not have a PS3, so I could not buy the digital versions on Playstation Network either. Because of this, I was definitely playing the harder, more archaic version of Crash Bandicoot 1, but, I was still able to make it through the game, and I feel pretty good about it, so it doesn’t really make me feel bad or make the accomplishment feel any less meaningful. So now that I’ve gotten through all the set-up; let’s actually start talking about the game in question. I’m only going to be looking at Crash Bandicoot 1 here, but over time, I will probably play through the other two games as well and will more than likely be giving my impressions on them too, but let’s do only one game at a time here.
Crash 1 is often noted for being a pretty standard game to beat, but an absolute nightmare to 100%. And let me tell you, after playing through this game 100%, I can definitely understand why. The game itself is not very long. Most of the stages can be completed in approximately 5-10 minutes on an initial playthrough (and that’s best case scenario), and if you just try to speed through the levels without doing the whole “collect-a-thon” thing, assuming you don’t run into many roadblocks, I’d say you could compare a standard level of Crash to be about the length of a Super Mario World level. And with only 26 stages in the game, you could probably beat the entire game in a sitting or two. However, like I said, that’s assuming you don’t try to 100% the game. In every stage, there are a number of boxes. These boxes can contain wumpa fruit that you can collect to earn more extra lives, defense masks to give you more protection against enemies or obstacles, or tokens that can earn you access to a secret bonus level. If you want to get 100% in Crash Bandicoot 1, you have to break every single box in every single level. Now, that might not sound too hard at first, but Crash 1 had a very annoying tendency where once you reached a checkpoint in the stage, if you died at any point after that, any boxes you got to that point would be forfeit, meaning you would have to exit the level and start from the very beginning of the stage all over again. So you had to completely clear the level on that run without dying, and let me tell you, for some of the levels that exist in this game…that is easier said than done.
And to make some matters a little more annoying, some stages you couldn’t completely clear until you 100% completed another stage, and there is not really any indication of when that is, unless you make it to a certain part of that stage and see an illusionary gem platform. Meaning, if you had tried doing that stage 100% to that point, you’d realize that you had wasted your time trying to get through the stage without dying when you couldn’t even get the specific gem for that level yet. I’d say this is a very minor complaint though, as I personally just used a gamefaqs guide that told me when I could and could not have completed a level, so when I got to a level I didn’t have to worry about yet, I just breezed through it on my own pace and came back when I could actually do something. Honestly, I’d recommend for anyone starting out on this game, just try to get through the game first and not worry about the 100% conditions until later. Yeah, you may have to play through a lot of levels again, but it’s better to know what to expect in a stage before trying to deal with everything on a blind run through.
My first session of the game was pretty successful. I was able to get a couple of the clear gems without too much trouble and spent most of my time just trying to get used to the controls and the general platforming of Crash Bandicoot. Let me tell you, if you have played any other platforming game, or heck, any other Crash game for that matter, it will take some adjusting to this particular game’s mechanics. One of the most important things you should get a feel for is how Crash jumps, because precision and timing is a big part of this game’s difficulty. Learn the distance of Crash’s jumps, and then learn how to make shorter jumps and to take notice of Crash’s shadow when he is about to land. Once you get a feel for that, I feel like a lot of the game will go a lot smoother. In my following few sessions, I didn’t really make a lot of progress. I got into the habit of pretty much being able to get only 2 or 3 clear gems per sitting, but honestly, patience is another big part of this game as well, and as long as I was making progress, I feel like that is all that mattered in the long run. It wasn’t until session number five or six where I really started to go beast mode on the game. I had gotten the gem for two of the longest and most difficult levels (Slippery Climb and Sunset Vista) and that put me in a mindset of feeling like I had complete control over Crash when moving and jumping, and used those skills to give me enough confidence in what stages I had remaining. In fact, I was capable of 100%ing The Lab and Lights Out on my first attempts (after just normally beating them previously), and those stages are considered to be pretty annoying, just due to their normal gimmicks. I went from having a little over half of the gems (26 overall) to having all of them in that final session.
I did have some trouble with the final two stages I had to get the gems for though (Boulder Dash and Fumbling in the Dark). These two stages really tested my patience and pretty much feature my two biggest problems of the game itself. For one, even though it can be overcome by practicing and adjusting, the directional controls of Crash 1 are just very inferior to other platforming games of the time. They aren’t a big deal in most levels, where you are either in a 2D plane or 3D sections where you don’t have to move diagonally much, but in the level Boulder Dash, for example, you have to outrun a giant boulder that’s following you, forcing you to make split-second button inputs to avoid obstacles that immediately come on screen that you have no way of knowing exist unless you play the stage numerous times beforehand. In some cases, you need to move diagonally, to make the most of your movements so that the boulder doesn’t have time to catch up with you, but you have to be pretty close to perfect, which is really hard to do with a d-pad. If you aren’t perfect, the boulder is going to catch up with you at the very end and turn you into a Crash pancake. Even if it seems like you’ll be fine after a small flub-up, the farther you make it into the stage, you’ll realize that it wasn’t enough and are then forced to start the entire stage over again because “No dying allowed in Crash 1!” I had so much trouble with this level because of this quirk, and spent an hour just trying to get the gem, when in reality, it’s a very short one-minute level that shouldn’t have taken me that long. Fumbling in the Dark however, is just a very hard level that can screw you over just on the notion of getting a bad enemy or obstacle pattern. The level itself is shrouded in darkness and you have to use masks to light the way as you make it through the level. However, if you take too long and don’t make it to the next mask, your current mask will dim out and you won’t be unable to see the path in front of you, which will have enemies, obstacles, and the most threatening, bottomless pits that you can’t see at all. It’s just a very unforgiving level when it comes to the clear gem and creates artificial difficulty on a level that was already difficult to begin with.
Later Crash games remove the “no dying” gimmick, or at the very least, don’t make it as much of a hindrance. In those games, whenever you reach a checkpoint, all of your box-breaking progress gets saved, meaning you don’t have to restart if you die. There are some instances where you do, if the level contains a “no-death route” for example, but it’s not in every level, and just in general, I think it’s a much better way to handle this system. Unfortunately, because they didn’t do that for the first game, I do think the game suffers from that design quirk and can be a very unfriendly aspect of this game for anyone looking to 100% complete it. The biggest draw of the N. Sane Trilogy’s version of Crash 1 is that this is fixed to a very large degree, meaning you don’t have to worry about this annoyance anymore if you are playing that version (and if you do, it’s only for the six colored gems). However, people who don’t own PS4s, like me, will unfortunately have to play the original and go above and beyond if we want to 100% complete this game.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about a 100% playthrough though is the fact that the difference in ending that you get is…kind of disappointing. If anything, the non-100% ending is better and is actually the canonical ending when moving on to the next Crash game. In other words, for the type of challenge that this offers the player, it can lead to the gamer feeling somewhat unrewarded with their efforts. With that being said though, there was definitely a huge feeling of satisfaction when I did complete the game and got the final gem. And knowing that I did it on the inferior and more difficult version of the game, made the victory even sweeter, so this decision didn’t bother me as much as it probably should have. I can understand other people feeling kind of annoyed with this fact though.
In conclusion, I think the game itself is good and it was a lot of fun for me to finally play through it 100%. Would I do it again? For the eventual Let’s Play, yes, but until I have a way to play the N. Sane Trilogy, I don’t see myself going back to this game for a casual playthrough anytime soon. The design quirks are a bit too iffy for my tastes and when you consider that the following installments fixed all of this game’s problems, they’re probably the more accessible and superior games of the franchise, and I look forward to making my way through them very soon!
Thanks for reading everybody, I will see you guys next time for whatever game I decide to finish and talk about next!