Crash Bandicoot has become something of a tradition in my household between my three-year-old son and I. Bought on Black Friday I didn’t get playing it properly until the Christmas holidays. Now, it is the bane of my life. Not a night goes past when my son doesn’t ask me to play ‘the fox game’ or Crash Bandicoot. This would be all well and good and great bonding if the game itself and especially the first one wasn’t so challenging to a gamer softened by years of open world Ubisoft games instead this is an ongoing nightmare.
The games themselves have been remastered to perfection with a few caveats. The developers have admitted tweaking the game to make it harder https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-07-18-dev-confirms-crash-bandicoot-is-harder-you-arent-imagining-it. This doesn’t make itself apparent for the first while but soon you will end up being frustrated as collision detection takes on a mind of its own at the most inopportune moments. This is when having an impressionable toddler in the room makes all the difference to the game.
With a small child nearby laughing and saying ‘daddy, why did you fall down the hole?’ The difficulty level suddenly ramps up to Dark Souls levels
Usually, the language that would spill from my lips involuntarily at the hundredth failure of a level would be extreme. The fictional enemy that had barely touched me or the platform that changed rhythm at the last second would be cursed to the lower reaches of hell. With a small child nearby laughing and saying ‘daddy, why did you fall down the hole?’ The difficulty level suddenly ramps up to Dark Souls levels. Without the ability to vent and the unintentional abuse from your own spawn Crash Bandicoot and levels like Slippery Climb, High Road, Bee-Having, and Native Fortress suddenly are a test of inhuman patience.
The beautiful graphics and brilliant design hook in the young players while the fiendish difficulty of the first game makes it a trophy hunting challenge to rule them all. The jumping which adds extra weight to Crash means you will lose concentration on the harder levels and just when you think you are cruising to the end will trip you up and have you falling to your doom. The first game is an absolute masterpiece because it is stripped down and the challenge is ramped up. There is no slide jump, no splash and especially no double jump. Completing this game took any ability a 36-year-old had left and reserves of restraint I never knew I had. All the while my son was falling more and more in love with the wacky characters and crazy design.
The real problems with this as a package are not the fault of the remaster, they are the fault of the second and third games. As most people say you should play these games in reverse to avoid disappointment. As a purist, I had to play them in order. What that meant was taking weeks to complete the first game while burning through the others in a few days. The second and third games introduce the higher slide jump and criminally in the third game you have a double jump and an over the shoulder fruit bazooka that can remove any enemies ahead of you. They are a real let down despite being more colourful and having more diverse levels. This can be summed up with the final level of Crash Bandicoot 2.
The boss levels range from trial and error to just plain luck in all the games but the final level of two is absolutely pathetic. You simply have to chase Dr Cortex in space while avoiding space debris. Compare this to the first game where you have to fight him on top of a blimp while he shoots continual death rays at you or fight against some of his minions and you are left feeling flat.
Despite this, my son absolutely loves watching this game and it has become a real bonding experience. He is experimenting with appropriate videogames at his young age and retro games like these especially when remastered to such a high standard are perfect. This is highly recommended for parents with limited gaming time and curious toddlers. Just remember not to swear.