N. Sane Trilogy - First Impressions

The wait is over: We finally have the first gameplay footage and details for the upcoming remakes, which will come out in 2017 under the name of N. Sane Trilogy! This special project by Vicarious Visions promises to deliver the original Crash trilogy in one neat package with updated graphics and other improvements.

I had previously written about my predictions for this project, and at the risk of tooting my own horn, it seems like they were quite accurate! This is, indeed, a remake being made from scratch, as opposed to something like taking the original code and improving things from there, for the same reasons I had previously suggested.

Vicarious Visions prefers to refer to it as a "remaster plus", since they want to keep things as faithful to the original games as they can, only with some modernization and a few perks thrown in. This includes auto-saving (fixing the terrible save system from Crash 1), Time Trials being brought over to the first two games, remade cutscenes, and the box counter present in Crash 1.

Judging from the footage that's been shown so far (which includes Crash 1 only, sadly), the gameplay is very faithful to the original game, almost scarily so. For better or worse, the way Crash moves and the level design all seem like they're still the same game we first played 20 years ago, and that deserves to be acknowledged and praised. I'm kind of hoping you can unlock Crash's moveset from the sequels in the first game, but hey, one thing at a time!

As for how things look, well... This is where I feel that I need to be a little more critical. Although the N. Sane Trilogy sports a fancy graphical overhaul, there are quite a few things I'm not too fond of, but they all mostly boil down to three things: the animations, the lighting, and the character designs. I think the best word to describe them at the moment is "rough".

Crash's animations look very stiff sometimes, and while I understand that they might want to keep things close to how they used to be, I don't think anyone would mind if they just skipped the animations from Crash 1 and brought over the ones from the sequels. Another thing that's bugging me is how slowly Wumpa fruits and extra lives float up to the HUD. Speaking of which, what's up with that generic font? Please let that be a placeholder, Vicarious Visions.

As for the lighting, the way it looks right now is making the game much less colorful and vibrant than it was originally, and it even seems odd at times. Crash's fur appears to be downright red depending on the place, and some areas are either too dark or too muddy-looking. The atmospheric lighting and colors from the original game are muted often, and it's especially apparent in the trailer when they cut from the old graphics to the new ones, like when Crash is running away from the boulder. They also changed some level palettes for no discernible reason, which is very noticeable in levels like Temple Ruins.

As for the character designs, well... I don't know what the decision process for this was like, but after seeing Vicarious Visions do their darnedest at recreating Charles Zembillas's designs in 3D for Skylanders Imaginators, it's very odd to see them redesigning the cast yet again.

It's doubly weird when they want to make these games as close to the originals as possible. Does Papu Papu really need tattoos or a hole in his teeth? Why is Koala Kong so ridiculously huge? How come Komodo Moe is so short now? Most characters just look a bit off in various ways.

The character that's bothering me the most right now is Crash. Not because he looks bad or anything, but because I liked his design from Skylanders way too much to even consider them going back to something simpler. I think Crash in Skylanders looked perfect, and he was amazingly expressive with a ton of great, fluid animations, so I can't help but look at him in the N. Sane Trilogy and consider this version a downgrade.

Crash is surprisingly stoic during gameplay, and they also went back to the old color scheme for his fur (I've always preferred the new one where his muzzle connects to his stomach, but oh well). Still, I have to give credit where it's due: I don't think Cortex has ever looked this great, and the scene where he zaps Crash with the Evolvo-Ray really captures his old personality.

I also feel like I should mention the music. Yes, the old compositions are all still here, but as you'd expect, they've been recreated as well. The instrument choices change up some themes considerably, so I predict this will become a very subjective matter depending on the track. I personally don't like what they did with Heavy Machinery, but I can get behind the new rendition of Tawna's theme. I wonder if unlocking the original soundtracks is too much to hope for?

As a whole, the N. Sane Trilogy seems to have nailed the gameplay from the classics, though I can't quite say the same for its presentation just yet. But hey, we still don't know when exactly this will be released, so there's still time for them to fix some of the things that are looking a bit irksome. At the very least it already seems that it plays like the classics, and in the end, that's still what matters most!

(Be sure to visit the game's new section for plenty of screenshots and all the usual goodies!)

UPDATE: The opening cutscene from Crash 1 has been revealed, and it's by far the best-looking footage of the game so far:

Everything about this cutscene is amazing, from the way it looks (super fluid animation, great lighting), to the voice acting. They absolutely nailed the dialogue from the original game, even if Maurice LaMarche as Brio was always going to sound a bit different. Lex Lang is perfect as usual, and Jess Harnell as classic Crash is something I never knew I wanted.

I absolutely love the part when Crash comes out of the Vortex and Cortex's theme plays in the background. The music is just perfect for the scene (even moreso than in the original game). More surprisingly, it's great to see Tawna as more than a helpless damsel in distress, which was always one of my problems with the character. This time you actually see her fending for herself, rather than standing there motionless. If I had one little nitpick about the cutscene, however, is that she and Crash still never see each other, keeping us wondering when exactly they first met and why Crash didn't try to escape with her. All in all, an amazing cutscene and hopefully a sign of things to come!


Samno | December 3, 2016 - 11:25 PM
The weirdest thing I found was that the Crash model looked great in some animations, but a little awkward in others. I imagine a lot of the fans that were put off by such things focused on the animations created solely for the trailer, such as the eyebrow shot (in which literally nothing moves but his eyebrows, coming across very stiff and unnatural).

However, the animations I've observed in the cutscenes and crate count sections were spot on - wildy expressive like the Skylanders ones. During the trailer shot when Crash is standing idle on a leaf in "Up the Creek" he looks strikingly similar to his Crash 2/3 model. From other angles, not so much.

Another thing that confused me is why the character roster image only features certain characters. At first, you would assume they were just going to show characters from the 1st game to mirror the trailer content, but the Komodo Bros, N. Tropy and N. Gin are all present. Why not Coco? Surely all the models are done now, seeing that the game ships early next year? Maybe there's more to it, maybe it's just an odd design choice.

JingleBoy | December 3, 2016 - 11:35 PM
See now I disagree with what you're saying about Crash's in-game model - I really love this look they've made. I wasn't fond of his Skylanders look, but it'd be pretty neat if they had swapable skins; they could even have his Titans design too. Nothing's off the table, I hope. I agree with what you said about the font, as nitpicky as it sounds I think it's a really weird oversight that they wouldn't get the original one considering how iconic it is with the franchise.
Overall this remake is pretty low budget, but it's important to get the criticisms out now so the game can be as good as it possibly can before release! We're only ever getting one of these, so might as well make it count.

Sypress | December 4, 2016 - 03:25 AM
The entire trailer looked, to me, like a really well made fangame more than an actual game in the series, and things like the fur texture on Crash bother me to no end. The models look like they're from an early Xbox 360 title rather than a modern PS4 title. Idk, maybe I'm just spoiled with Skylanders: Imaginators and Yooka-Laylee, but they're capable of doing so much better visually and I can only hope this is just early build troubles rather than close-to-final designs and aesthetic. But that's just me.

Stealth | December 4, 2016 - 05:27 AM
I honestly hope they can polish this game up real good before release. i like the use of lighting in the toxic sewer/ pipe levels, but the vibrant colors weren't there in places like the boulder level. The animations shown were also hit or miss going from stiff and unfinished to cartoony and full of life. The only characters I think need a face change are the Komodo bros., Koala Kong, Papu Papu, and N trophy. in order from "it would be nice if", to " in dire need". overall I'm excited to see the other 2 games and how this will all turn out.

psxdriverplayer | December 4, 2016 - 09:47 AM
Am I the only one around here who thinks the save system wasn't bad at all in the original Crash 1?

Tawna | December 4, 2016 - 11:31 AM
Why are they incapable of leaving the original designs alone? Every. Single. Game. they attempt to redesign them and it's horrible.

No surprise Tawna got a breast reduction because it's 2016 and breasts on anyone but Kim Kardashian are evil. Also lacking her long legs. Her vibe went from beautiful and charming to trashy and sort of malicious, like they designed her this time around with the idea that she's going to dump Crash, and y'know curvy women can't be protagonists anymore. Also I hate her new clothes, liked the simple high waisted shorts and tank top she originally had.

Papu's new design is the worst. He went from fearsome and diligent to a goofy oaf. His outfit is just wrong in a lot of ways and his body shape is totally off.

Koala Kong looks early development but his lack of chest hair is irritating.

Komodo Moe's height is way off and he no longer has a gut.

Other than those complaints, the rest of the cast don't look too bad. But there are definitely some things that bug me about them still, like N.Brio's teeth and Crash's less slick overall shape. And Cortex's nose bugs me, he used to have a hooked, bumpy nose but now it's pointy.

Tawna | December 4, 2016 - 11:54 AM
And I really hope they remove Crash's face from her shirt, such an ugly shirt design.

zyboogilits | December 4, 2016 - 12:17 PM
Genuinely surprised that it visually looks, for the most part, quite a bit worse than the Skylanders level. That's the last thing I was expecting.

Smaz | December 4, 2016 - 12:30 PM
I love how the gameplay is looking accurate to the original Crash game, making me feel relieved that nothing has been changed too much in that department. I also love the opening cinematic, with the exact same dialogue just with Lex Lang and Maurice Lamarche providing pitch-perfect interpretations of Cortex and Brio. I even love all of the new musical renditions, such as the more tech version of Heavy Machinery.

However, the thing I'm not loving so much are the character models, lighting and animations, very much the same as what was listed in this article. I also consider them a downgrade from the amazing work achieved in Skylanders: Imaginators. Crash's model quickly became my favourite that's ever existed, in Skylanders, and this "remastered" versions feels like a step backwards, as do most of the models, really. I'm not so such on the fuzzy textures on Crash and Koala Kong, either, which make them look a lot more... basic, than perhaps intended. The lighting makes the game feel a bit cheap, right now, with bloom overload (at least, that's what it feels like to me - like one of those 3D fan made Crash games in past years).

That being said, I'm still super excited to play the remade trilogy. I love how Time Trials have been incorporated into Crash 1, and by default, Crash 2. I like how the bonus levels now contribute towards the crate count and you don't have to do the level all in one life, anymore, much like in 2 and 3. And most of all, I love that Crash is coming back at all. Now, we just have to wait and see if Stormy Ascent is reinstated into the game!

Castcoder | December 4, 2016 - 06:54 PM
I have a feeling they haven't started Crash 2 or 3 fully and are just finishing up segments of Crash 1. It's also weird they have N. Tropy and Uka Uka done, but not Ripper Roo, Tiny, or Dingodile. ***, even Coco isn't shown yet.

I'm at PSX and they have a Crash mascot roaming around to take pictures with. Oddly enough they stuck Crash in the same booth as Lara Croft Go. Few people are going to that booth for a game they can already play on a smart phone. Let me know if you want some impressions from the demo I played. So far the camera is a bit different from what I noticed.

KoolWranch | December 4, 2016 - 08:19 PM
Looks fine for the most part. The only things that bother me are Crash's running animation and the lighting in some areas.

Klonepa | December 6, 2016 - 12:01 PM
Unused and unfinished levels would be a nice new content on this remaster?

Nicofan | December 13, 2016 - 10:11 AM
These comments

"omg cresh desing is a doowngraade compaered too skylanders" Wait, what? A desing who looks just like the original Crash is A DOWNGRADE? Wait a second.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuL6cJPz3Nk Seriously,
Stop looking for excuses to complain and assume your bad faith. You go so far as to compare the desing of a spin-off! It is as if a new Mega Man came out and you said "omg he does not look like the SSB4 version, it's a downgrade!". This is all I wanted to say, have a good day and long live at Crash Bandicoot!

Delta-Raptor | December 15, 2016 - 09:41 PM
The first time I saw the sneak-peak trailer for this awesome trilogy remake, I thought it was some stupid prank to throw people off, or that I must be dreaming but I was wrong. As I watched the video again, It seemed too legit for it to be a prank considering it's made by Activision.(?)

I'm looking forward to getting my claws on the remade trilogy. And while I'm at it, I'll play some Warped. c:

HP Zoner | December 17, 2016 - 03:11 PM
@Nicofan You're basically saying that since it's based on the original design, it's impossible to improve it in any way. I don't understand this logic. There is always room for improvement. For example, you could always try to improve your perception of subjectivity and your acceptance of other people's opinions.

Yes, many people do believe the design from Skylanders Imaginators is better than the original design. Is there something wrong with that? Do you mind explaining the relevance of that game's status as a spin-off in this context? I don't understand your logic.

If you like the original design more, then good for you. I respect your opinion (regardless of how much you openly mocked me and other people for thinking differently; perhaps you should work on your maturity as well). Just don't expect others to agree with something you can barely explain yourself.

MenDude | January 1, 2017 - 08:48 PM
I really liked the intro cutscene, my only complaint is that the old lines sound weird with the new animation.

Masha | January 4, 2017 - 03:52 AM
I can't wait to play the new trilogy! I already own the originals and feel the new version will be just as good if not better. One thing I have in mind are the boss battles. I don't see Ripper Roo in the cast and feel that the Komodo Bros may replace Roo as the first boss. They were going to be a boss in the original, and Josh Mancell even has a song for them on SoundCloud! I could be wrong as the cast is, from an original standpoint, incomplete. We'll see how everything turns out. Next up, new features. When I saw N Tropy I immediately thought of time trials and relics, not found in Crash 1 or 2. I watched the trailers and demos and there they were! Since the new trilogy have features absent from the originals, especially the first two games, I wouldn't exactly call them remasters, rather "2017 upgrades." Finally, the design. Wow. The lively soundtrack and explosive graphics excite me. I smell some mobile apps!

Fuuma | January 8, 2017 - 02:44 PM
I've been lurking around here for a long time, but this game's reveal inspired me to join the community now. It so amazing that I can't even find the words to describe how delighted I'm to see this game happen :-) I've been a huge fan of the original trilogy and seeing it faithfully remade for PS4 with enhanced visuals and remastered music is just awesome! So far, it looks like exactly how I imagined it to be and they're even adding Time Trials for Crash 1 and 2, something that I've always wanted. Not to mention they're ironing out all the not-so-good design choices of Crash 1 and making it feel more like Crash 2 & Warped in terms of gameplay.

I hope we get to see more footage soon, specifically from Crash 2 & Warped (seems logical that they started with Crash 1 since it might be finished, while the other two are still in development). I'd say E3 2017 is where we definitely see a new trailer and the release date revealed, but I have a feeling we might get some new footage & information sooner than that.

I really hope this game will be successful, so that we might see a brand new Crash game in the future with completely original levels and all. And maybe even a CTR Remake, that'd be fantastic! Apart from those, I'd love if Vicarious Visions would remake the original Spyro trilogy in a similar way too :D

TnvGaming | January 16, 2017 - 01:06 AM
While I really like everything about this game so far. Subtle things are bothering me that I cannot seem to get over, and some things I really like:

1. Lex Lang is a great voice actor and he does not fail here. But I've come to ***ociate Lex Lang's voice with the more slap-stick humorous cortex from Crash Twinsanity and beyond, and to me, he doesn't sound sinister like Clancy Brown did voicing Cortex from Crash 2 - Crash Nitro Kart. They should've recasted Clancy Brown to voice Cortex, and Brendan O' Brian for N. Brio.
2. Crash looks fantastic, easily the BEST model in the game we've seen so far, but all the others seem out of place. When I initially read that Vicarious Visions was developing the trilogy, my mind went straight back to Crash Nitro Kart's FMV/ In-Game Cutscenes, and I imagined something stylistically similar. I mean they absolutely nailed Charles Zembilla's style, with Joe Pearson's background/ world design. So far everything in the N. Sane trilogy seems slightly off on it's own merit, and really off when put side-by-side.
3. The soundtrack is fantastic so far, some subtle changes have indeed been made, but that's what happens when you hire on artists to interpret what the original composer meant, instead of hiring back on Josh Mancell to re-arrange/ recompose the soundtrack. I'm not mad, but I'm really digging the soundtrack anyway.
4. Tawna. I like the change from the original cutscene to this one, as it makes her seem like more of a fighter, but they changed her appearance A LOT. For a developer claiming to stay as faithful to the original artwork, they really dropped the ball on that one.

All in all, it's off to a fantastic start, and there's plenty of room to improve, but it's not as close as they have lead me to believe. I got to play this at PSX, and I loved it. But this looks more like a high-budget fan game than a AAA remaster plus as they are referring it.

Samno | February 12, 2017 - 04:19 PM
Anyone else hoping that they take a few liberties with the cutscenes, like flesh them out a bit?
This remake would be a perfect opportunity to retcon in a reason for the famous Tawna-Coco swap in Crash 2!

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