Is Crash Bandicoot OVERRATED?! (Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy) – DeadlockArticles . Blog
The 90s were an incredible time to be a gamer. Innovations were happening left and right, but the true turning point came back in 1995 as the 5th Generations of consoles was released bringing the gaming world into the 3rd dimension! [Echoing “Dimension”] It was a complete paradigm shift for the industry. Not only were old favorites re-inventing themselves with
polygons instead of pixels, this new dimension ushered forth new contenders for console domination. And with new consoles,
comes new mascots. Enter Crash Bandicoot,
the denim clad marsupial brought to life by NaughtyDog. Some of the earliest games to bring platforming into 3D, the Crash series was easily, easily one of the most successful of its time with each installment selling around 7 million copies. Now, after years out of the spotlight, Crash is back. And seeing an incredible resurgence in popularity with the release of the N’Sane Trilogy of HD Remasters. But just how well did these games hold up? Were the Crash games actually good to begin with? Or have we been giving ’em a past just because of
childhood nostalgia? Well… Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet,
welcome to Deadlock! [Intro] Ryder: Wait, Matt. I’m confused. Didn’t you already do a Deadlock about whether or not Dark Souls sucks? MatPat: Ohh, hahahaha. I get it.
Is Crash the new Dark Souls? Nice dead meme there, Ryder. By the way, I’m surprised you’ve even played a Crash Bandicoot game considering it’s not a narrative-driven game about angsty hipster teenagers. Ryder: Okay, just because I love
Life is Strange, Gone Home, Night in the Woods, and Oxen Free doesn’t mean that those are the only games I play. I am a massive fan of 3D platformers and have been my entire life. And considering I’m one of the only people on this channel who has ever even talked about Crash Bandicoot. MatPat: Maybe there’s a reason for that. Ryder: I feel more than qualified to step in and defend my boy, Crash. And, as you can see, I’ve come prepared. So, let’s not waste any time.
Hurry up, get this done. There’s a new Life is Strange episode out. MatPat: [Laughs] So predictable. Anyway, if we could actually get to the debate now. Ryder: With pleasure. Crash Bandicoot was and still is one of the most important franchises in the entire history of 3D platformers. It was a pioneer of the genre that boasted amazing graphics, memorable characters and music and challenging design. And despite being the new kid on the block, Crash did the impossible.
Rising above the competition to become a truly viable rival of both Mario and Sonic. Look at the sales charts and you’ll see that all three of the original Crash games are in the Top 10 most sold Play-Station games of all time, right along Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and… Gran Turismo?? MatPat: Yeah, I never really understood that one either. Ryder: Long story short, Crash was one of the biggest reasons that Play-Station would come to rule the triple-A gaming industry and continue to dominate it to this day. Without this spinning Bandicoot,
gaming would look a lot different. MatPat: [Laughs] Yeah, sure.
Too bad the games were garabage. Ryder: Whoa.. Whoa.. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Matt, that is a strong claim.
Are you sure you’re ready to fight your case here? MatPat: More than ready, Ryder.
Just because a game sells well doesn’t make that game good. Take for instance, the very first game. The one that, apparently, was so instrumental to the rise of Play-Station. This game has aged so poorly, that it’s borderline unplayable today. You know what’s a bad idea, Ryder? Making a 3D game that controls with 4-directional pads. He can only move in 8 directions and there was no analog-control capabilities. Couple that with deceptively heavy physics, and you some how manage to have controls that are both stilted and slippery at the same time. Crash feels sloppy and sluggish. And compare that to Mario, whose first fully 3D game, Super Mario 64, was an innovative powerhouse. Full analog control support, allowing for complete 360 degree movement. Controls aren’t a chore… They’re fun! Running in circles, long jumping, and wide open fields. It was awesome! Ryder: Well, of course
Mario 64 was the more revolutionary title. It was made by Nintendo, literally the biggest company in the industry at that point. They have the time, money and resources to
make something revolutionary. NaughtyDog had a 7-person staff,
$2 million, and 0 experience making platformers. So for the company to take on a task as monumental
as creating one of the first fully 3D action platformers was incredibly ambitious. And keeping in mind that
this was also the year of Bubsy 3D, I think we can all agree that Crash Bandicoot turned out
pretty dang good all things considered. MatPat: Fair enough, fair enough.
I can totally respect a small team working with minimum resources to create something that they’re passionate about. [Whispers]: I like to think that that’s something
we do here on the channel all the time. [Normal Voice]: But even a small team should be able to understand the basics of level design. Crash can barely even be described as a 3D platformer. A good number of its levels were side-scrollers with a locked camera. And what 3D levels it did have were all
a bunch of linear, uninspired hallways that made up for their lack of interesting design with pitfalls, cheap deaths and action-set pieces that distract you from the fact that all you’re actually doing is going in a straight line. But they somehow managed to screw that one up, Ryder. Because as good as the game may have looked at the time, depth perception is a cruel, cruel mistress in Crash Bandicoot. Trying to gauge whether or not you’ll actually land a jump at any given moment is next to impossible. And made even worse thanks to how heavy Crash actually handles. Plus, the game oftens breaks established platforming rules. The infamous boulding-chase sequences
where you’re having to run towards the camera with no way of seeing what obstacles is coming next giving you little, to no time, to properly respond to the chasms and obstacles ahead of you. It is nothing but trial and error and memorization. And if that isn’t frustrating enough, in the original game, remember they expected to have to play levels perfectly in one try just to even save the game. Just to save it! Ryder: Okay, that is fair but keep in mind that these games were released during a time when 3D platformers weren’t really a thing. I mean, before this, what’s the closest thing we had? Uh, Sonic 3D Blast and Bug. There were no established rules for 3D platformers. And NaughtyDog took this as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas that turned expectations on their head. Plus, the game was an incredibe financial success, allowing NaughtyDog to follow up with several sequels, which dealt with pretty much every issue you just mentioned. MatPat: Mmm, interesting. Let’s talk about those sequels, shall we? NaughtyDog created two more Crash platformers, each one only having a year’s worth of development in between them, and it shows. Sure, Crash 2 and Crash 3 handle better and do look better, but they change virtually nothing about the lackluster gameplay and stiff level design. Instead, their “gameplay innovations” involved adding extra gimmicks that start to make the game even worse. Things weren’t too bad in Crash 2, I mean, unless you remember those unforgivable jetpack sessions. Ryder: Okay, yeah, I agree.
Those jetpacks stages are pretty poopy. MatPat: Right? Which they decide to make the final boss of the game. But overall, the game was an improvement. Hoho! But then came Warped. Where, let’s be honest, they just gave up on making a platformer altogether The game is nothing but a showcase of level gimmicks. Fighter Pilot stages that lasted a couple of seconds, tiger riding stages, jet ski levels, the water level as the second stage in the game, and don’t even get me started on those horrible motorbike stages. Ryder: Oh what’s wrong with the motorbike stages? MatPat: Have you tried controlling them? They’re so stiff, and it’d be one thing if these forced minigame stages were a small percentage of the game, but they are literally, without exaggeration 50% of it! There are around 30 levels in the game, and fifteen of them rely on these gimmicks! The game is just poorly thought out. If Naughty Dog wanted to make a racing game, then they should have just made a racing game! Oh wait, they did! The very next year… Huh! It’s almost like they used this game as a means of testing out a cash-grab spin-off they could manage. My cold cynical heart aside though, if you bought this game expecting to be a 3D platformer, Sorry. Ryder: Ok, I’ll concede that Crash’s reliance on vehicle sections did get tiring as the games went on. But when the game was just being a straight-up platformer, it was untouchable. For those who weren’t there, it’s difficult to convey just how intense of a shift the leap into a fully 3D polygonal gaming was for the industry. Up until Crash’s release in 1996, platformers moved left, right, and maybe if you were lucky up and down. But once that z-axis got added and game world started to become bigger and more opened-ended, there were a lot of long-time gamers who just couldn’t keep up. You’ve said yourself on This Very Show, you’ve known several people who just gave up on videogames once they moved to 3D, So, needless to say, the 5th generation of gaming consoles was pretty intimidating at the start. Enter Crash Bandicoot, with its appealing characters and graphics, unobtrusive story, linear design, accessible gameplay, and a balanced mix of 2D and 3D levels, and you have the perfect starting points for those who have been overwhelmed 3D gaming. MatPat: Sure, but instead of working to make a better platformer with more interesting and creative level designs as their experience as designers grew, and as gamers became more adapted in navigating in 3D, they instead descended into gimmicks! For instance, Crash Warped introduced a Mega Man styled power-up system where you would recieve a new ability after defeating each boss. Double jump, bazooka, glide. Ryder: Yeah! Uh, point being? MatPat: Power-ups that could only be used in traditional Crash platforming levels. Well too bad half the game is vehicle sections, and even when you are allowed to use them, you never need to. Good level design presents you with a challenge that requires to get better at using your new skills, but you can just get through the entire game of Crash without ever needing to use the power-ups! In fact, the developers implemented them so lazily, that they actually put up signs in levels reminding you to use them! Even though, once again, you don’t have to. Okay come on! How many times in a 3D Mario game has Nintendo FREAKING NINTENDO, was resorting to just sticking an arrow into their level somewhere just so the player knows where the heck to go. MatPat: But there’s a difference between tossing in an arrow to give the player extra direction in a large open area, and literally having to signpost your game, just so players could remember that they have the ability to double jump. Seriously, without exaggeration, I forgot the power-up the first time I played. And when that happens to gamers, THAT is a problem. Ryder: Sounds more like a problem with your memory Matt! Because this game was designed so that every player could approached each level the way they wanted to. Those who wanted that extra challenge could easily just not use the power-ups. Players wanting to go through the game casually could utilize those power-ups to save themselves from hazards. It kept gameplay fresh for Crash veterans and on top of that, those who wanted to go for 100% completion needed, I repeat, NEEDED those powerups to access secret pathways. MatPat and Ryder: Which reminds me, SECRETS. MatPat: [*inaudible speech*] Ryder: While the Crash sequels did keep to the heavily design of the original, Naughty Dog knew that they would need to up the ante in order to compete with the more heavily explored platformers that came afterward. So they added a TON of secrets to Crash 2 & 3 that could lead the secret paths with more crates to break, extra lives, gems to collect, and even warps to completely different levels. All of which added an element of mystery and exploration to an otherwise linear game MatPat: Ah yes! The secret pathways, the giant question mark platforms, literally alongside your main linear path! Woohoohoo! So secret! Or were you referring to the secrets so well hidden and so few and sporadically implemented that you might not even know they exist to this day! Seriously, the game does nothing, absolutely nothing to indicate that these secret bonuses and even there! Warp paths, the secret levels are hidden on random platforms, and even on clusters clusters of nitro crates, that the game actively teaches you to avoid at all cost Ryder: Which backs up my points that these secrets existed to incentivize to think outside the box. Did you happen to notice that those nitro crates were in the of a staircase? These secrets represent something that we, as gamers often forget about as we get older and more cynical. Childlike wonder. When were kids playing Crash 2, we weren’t thinking about the controls or the mechanics, we were thinking about this awesome new world that was created and what adventures it could give us. If you were a kid playing Crash and you just happened to stumble across one of these secret warps, you would be completely awestruck! The same way you were in Super Mario 64 when you looked up in that random spotlight and we’re transported into a completely new level. MatPat: Ah yes, the nostalgia argument. I was wondering when you’d resort to this one. Yeah Ryder, we get it, you played these games to death when you were a kid and have all these fond memories of finding the secrets for the first time. Ryder: Oh, no, I-I don’t. MatPat: What? Ryder: Yeah, I’d never played Crash as a kid. I grew up with Nintendo Consoles and never even picked up crash until like 2014? I have absolutely zero nostalgia whatsoever. I just think it’s really cool. MatPat: Huh! Ryder: Anyway, so far we’ve done nothing but talk about the original Playstation 1 Crash games, but we’re forgetting one big thing: The Nsane Trilogy. The Team at Vicarious Visions lovingly remastered all three of the original Crash games from the ground up for Playstation 4 with beautiful 4K graphics, control improvements across all three entries in the series, and autosave among so much more in ONE package. Not only did Vicarious Visions successfully bring Crash back into the spotlight, but they arguably created the definitive versions of the Naughty Dog Crash games in the process. And fans were ecstatic! I mean, did you see the reaction that Crash got at E3 2016? The crowd was roaring before the announcements had even been made! They were that excited for the return of Crash. And once the game actually came out, it took the gaming scene by storm! Spawning memes from the literal moment it was released recieving very positive review scores, and managing to get played by all the biggest YouTube gamers. MatPat: [*sarcastically*] Yeah! As a rage game to make fun of how challenging it was! Challenged mind you that’s built up being unfair, rather than difficult to execute on. You made the joke earlier about the whole Dark Souls meme, but Dark Souls is built on pattern recognition and reaction time. By the time you get to the end of the first Crash game, you’re literally forced to inch through levels at a snail’s pace to avoid instant death trap after instant death trap! Disrupting the organic flow that other better platformers have. What’s the point of having a life meter when you’re constantly dying down pits trying to figure out where the next invisible plank on your bridge is? And the remaster made things worse! By frustratingly rounding off Crash’s hitbox, causing you to get hit by enemies or slide off platforms for seemingly no good reason. Even Crash veterans notice this, admitting that they were dying over and over on levels that they had already mastered years ago. Treacherous stages like Slippery Climb and The High Road are made ten times more infuriating, unfairly infuriating because you neve really know if you’re land on that itty bitty platform or fall to your death. Ryder: Huh, you know what? Maybe Crash is like Dark Souls because I’m all hearing right now are the complaints of someone who needs to get good MATPAT! MatPat: [*unimpressed*] Wow! Ryder, you are on fire today with the dead memes. Memes as dead as the Crash Bandicoot series. Ryder: On the contrary, Crash is probably one of the most long-lasting frachises to come out of the 90s. MatPat: [*scoffs*] Are you serious!? Before 2017, when was the last time that anyone actually cared about Crash Bandicoot? Ryder: While it is true that the post Naughty Dog Crash games never lived up to the franchise’s early legacy, the series was still consistently seeing new entries on into 2008, and outside of the franchise itself, the impact that Crash left on the gaming industry continued to be felt for years. Some of Naughty Dogs’ very next game “Jak and Daxter” was lifted straight from Crash Bandicoot to the first “Sly Cooper” is basically just Crash 3 with a thief theme and where do you think they got those smashable in the Ratchet and Clank series? In fact, there’s even an argument that could be made that the 3D Sonic formula lifted a lot of inspiration from the linear hallways of Crash Bandicoot’s MatPat: Oh Ryder! I don’t think that’s the comparison you want to be making buddy. Ryder: Regardless, at the end of the day, whether it’s your cup of tea or not Matt, the Crash Bandicoot series is important. Without it, Playstation might not be the juggernaut that it is today, and we may have never seen modern masterpieces like Uncharted and the Last of Us. Without Crash Bandicoot, the gaming scene that we know today could look very different. And that kind of long-lasting impact does not just happen. It needs a reason. And that reason is because Crash Bandicoot was, and still is, awesome! MatPat: Face it.The best thing to come out of that series was the meme. Or the fact that Naughty Dog moved on to make Uncharted. Ryder: That Crash Easter Egg was soo cool. MatPat: [*excited*] I know! Ladies and gentlemen in the internet, we have reached DEADLOCK! Now the decision is in your hands. Are we blinded by nostalgia or was Crash truly a pillar of three-dimensional gaming? Cast your vote using the “i” icon in the uper right hand corner of the screen, OR cast your vote in the comments below. Last time in the Pokemon battle, Squirtle came out on top. But uh, the comments are to be believed, Bulbasaur was the true winner. [*Ending music*]
Written by Valentin Lakin
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