Nostalgia is a very powerful thing. On one hand, it can be used to further enhance our favorite games by associating fond memories to them during our formative years. Maybe they were there for you during a hard period of your life or even helped form a powerful bond with another person. On the other hand, it can cloud your better judgement and warp your perception on things you may not enjoy otherwise. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but it is something to keep in mind when critiquing your favorite forms of art. Before this month my only experience with Crash Bandicoot consisted of scattered sessions of The Wrath of Cortex as a child, and if you asked me how I felt about the game I would have nothing but positive to say about it. I recently decided I would marathon every major Crash game in preparation for the newly released Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About TIme, and it was a rather enlightening experience. It wasn't without it's bumps in the road, but the highs of the PS1 Trilogy were that of pure platforming bliss. My journey was not over however, one game remained. Let's just say nostalgia could only assist me so much here. If I could be totally honest for a second, my experience with this game wasn't totally awful, in fact there were some genuinely great things in here. The level variety was top notch, and the music was spectacular all the way through (I might go as far as to say this game has the best soundtrack in the series up to this point) and some of the Crash levels were genuinely great. But past that, there isn't much good to pull from this game. Traveller's Tales was allegedly put under intense crunch to complete this game and it's clear in the final product. Major structural notes were clearly taken from Crash Bandicoot Warped when assembling this game, but instead of refining the solo Crash levels, they put an insane amount of attention into the gimmicky vehicle sections. I didn't outwardly dislike those sections in Warped, probably due to their scarcity compared to standard levels, but in this game it feels so schizophrenic in its structure. All the time the game is throwing something new at the player and seeing if it sticks (whether that be a ball rolling level, a car level, a plane level, etc.) and this really creates two major issues. For one, it's likely none of these sections will have time to blossom into something worthwhile or stick to its players in any meaningful way. Secondly, it runs the risk of taking space away from the standard Crash levels. Of course, the game ends up suffering from both of these. Everything simply feels half baked in The Wrath of Cortex. From the visuals, to the gameplay, to the enemies, nothing feels quite right. The developers clearly loved a lot about Warped, but they didn't have the time or resources to fix its flaws or learn from its mistakes. I couldn't think of a more flaccid way to end this era of Crash. Quite frankly I was on autopilot for most of this experience, and I can't see myself returning to it in the future.
Despite an awkwardly implemented double jump and a few vehicle levels that don't quite land, Crash 3 is an excellent 3D platformer. Varied level ideas, great gameplay additions, and a killer soundtrack all add up to create the most refined game in the PS1 trilogy.
While the first game felt devoid of interesting ideas, Crash 2 is where the series really developed into something special. It could have benefitted from a few more level motifs and better bosses, but everything else was a major improvement over the original.
(Played on the N. Sane Trilogy)
Very standard platforming gameplay mixed with uninteresting level theming, mediocre bosses, and a bland soundtrack. Combined with the poor collision detection of N. Sane trilogy, this was a rather frustrating experience. On the whole it was fine, just wasn't anything great.