Thursday, July 06, 2017

Game Review: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

"Considering the circumstances Activision truly have put Wumpa fruit, sweat and tears into giving us a brilliant remaster of the games we all remember."
Crash Bandicoot first came out in 1996 and was developed by Naughty Dog. They went on to make two sequels, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back in 1997 and Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped in 1998. After that Naughty Dog released a spin-off kart racing game called Crash Team Racing before leaving the Crash Bandicoot series to make other incredibly successful video game series in Jak and Dexter, Uncharted and The Last of Us.
No matter where your feelings lay with the other Crash Bandicoot games released between 2000 and 2010 it’s safe to say the series went downhill from then. From mixed reviews to negative reviews to different developers and different publishers, to an unsuccessful reboot in 2007, things have been frustrating for both Crash Bandicoot fans and anyone who has helped create any of the games at any point in its history. Activision, who have been the publisher since 2008, had a video game series that from 2010 to around 2015 or so, they didn’t know what to do with. It was like Activision were standing right next to a Nitro box in a Crash game, anxious to move around it just in case it explodes in their face but also they wanted to move forward. There was potential in the Crash Bandicoot series, but they didn’t know how to make it a success.
In around 2014 or 2015, rumours went around that Crash Bandicoot was going to have a reboot. Activision had to many times play down the rumours, mainly because they were just that, rumours. Even Naughty Dog had to emphasise that they don’t have the rights to the video game series anymore, and, even if they did, they don’t know if they would have made another Crash game. But the rumours turned into hype – fans wanted Crash to return. A beloved franchise and once mascot of the Sony Playstation, fans reminisced over how good the original Crash trilogy was. They wanted a new Crash game, or a remake. Crash Bandicoot, like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario before it, had become a classic platformer that fans would talk about as being some of their favourite childhood memories. Surely the Crash Bandicoot series couldn’t stay in limbo?
Crabs always go sideways. It's just a fact.
And then in 2016, Activision announced they would fully remaster all three original Crash Bandicoot games. It wasn’t Naughty Dog, but Activision, partnered with Vicarious Visions (who worked on the series from 2002 to 2004), would redo the three games in full HD and with some new features too.
I would like to say, the circumstances that were handed to Activision were difficult. Firstly, the original trilogy is very well loved by a large selection of fans. They needed to redo the games to please them, but also keep the games open to newer fans who haven’t played the games before. They were taking on the three games originally done by Naughty Dog, a completely different developer, using very outdated coding, lots of which they were unable to reuse. Most importantly (in my opinion) they also needed to get the “feel” of the original trilogy correct, something intangible that made those games so great in the first place. Let’s get on with the review.
If you’ve not played Crash Bandicoot before, it’s a 3D platformer where you control Crash (or in some levels Coco, his sister) where you have to go from the start of the level to the end. In Crash 2 and 3 you’re also expected to collect a crystal placed somewhere in the middle of the level. You can jump and spin enemies and crates, the latter which gives you extra lives and “Wumpa Fruit”, which you get an extra life when you collect 100 of them. Other crates exist in the game like arrow crates which you can use to jump extra high on, TNT boxes which count  from 3 to 1 before exploding and exclamation crates which unlock a crate somewhere else in the level. In Crash 2 and 3 you can also do a slide attack and crawl, as well as do a belly flop and a high jump by doing the slide attack quickly followed by jumping. In Crash 3 you also can unlock other special abilities every time you defeat a boss. In Crash Bandicoot 1 you get a gem for collecting every single crate in a level and completing the level without losing a life. In Crash 2 and 3, they made this easier by only the need to collect all the crates. One thing that was added in Crash 3 was Time Trial mode, where you had to repeat levels as quickly as possible, getting time bonus crates along the way. Earning fast times gets you Sapphire, Gold and Platinum relics respectively. In the Crash Bandicoot remaster, they’ve added this feature into Crash 1 and 2 as well.
Nothing like a bit of breakdancin' before beating up a massive robot with torpedoes!
Again if you’re not familiar with the story of Crash Bandicoot, it’s not the most important part of the game but a brief outline is that Dr Neo Cortex create a machine called the Evolvo Ray which is used to mutate animals into super beasts. They experiment on Crash who Cortex was intending on being the leader of an army of animal soldiers. They try to put Crash into a machine called the Cortex Vortex which rejects Crash and allows him to escape his lab. Instead, Cortex kidnaps Tawna, Crash's girlfriend to experiment on instead. Crash decides he needs to rescue Tawna and defeat Cortex. In Crash 2 and 3, the story continues at the defeat of Cortex at the hands of Crash, where Cortex is hell bent on getting revenge on Crash by using crystals to power up the Cortex Vortex, to try and destroy the earth.
Comparing this to the original trilogy released between 1996 and 1998, naturally the graphics have had a complete overhaul. To be fair, these aren’t the best graphics on the Playstation 4 but they were never meant to be. They were meant to be crisp, polished and easy on the eyes. Activision have done a splendid job of making Crash look brilliant. Being a big fan of the original games, there are a couple of things I would have changed (like make Crash look a bit goofier than he does comparatively to the original) but I honestly can grasp at straws in terms of thinking of anything negative to say about the redesigning of the games. The redesigns of all the boss enemies look spot on too.
Being a massive fan of the original games, I was a little concerned when I heard they were remastering the soundtracks of the original games. The music in the original games has a big place in my heart and the job Naughty Dog did in the original would be hard to beat. But, pleasantly, I barely notice any difference when actually playing the game when hearing the music. It does sound almost identical most of the time and the few changes are welcome because they often substance rather than subtract, such as add native jungle sounds to emphasise the area of the world the games are set in.
It's not realistic enough. Surely Crash would be sweating buckets, being next to all those grills??
When it comes to the sound of the game, overall it does sound very crisp and each individual sound correlates well to what’s happening on screen. But – and a big but – perhaps its nostalgia, but for me, Activision have replaced many of the key sounds from the original games that didn’t need replacing. Think of Sonic as an example – can you imagine if they changed the sound of collecting rings? Or Mario, when he jumps into one of the tubes? These sounds are over 20 years old and are iconic parts of the respective games. When it comes to Crash Bandicoot, there are also classic sounds, completely omitted from the remaster which disappoints me as a guy growing up with the games as a kid. For instance, getting an extra life has a very mild “kerching” sound compared to the brilliant one from the original games. The “whoa” sound that Crash makes is completely changed too. The glorious “aaaaah” noise when collecting a crystal is replaced. Just these little things, these iconic sounds, should have remained in the game in my opinion to remind people that these are the foundations of a 20 year old classic platformer that should be in place in every Crash Bandicoot game ever released in the future. But never mind!
Speaking of sound, the voice actors have done a good job in the remaster overall, and most of the dialogue remains untouched too, with some subtle changers here and there mainly for clarity. My only bug bear with this remaster however is Cortex. That’s not to say that Lex Lang has done a bad job as Cortex, but when Clancy Brown offers his services to completely redo his work from Crash 2 and 3 and they don’t even consider him, it stings a little. Cortex from the trilogy is one of my all time favourite villains and Clancy Brown brought that life to life in a massive way during this period.
One thing that was a criticism of the Crash Bandicoot, but was improved on slightly in Crash 2 and 3 was the controls and mechanics. In what was a stumbling block in the original trilogy, the game play mechanics, combined with the controls, are “almost” identical, for good or for bad. As stated earlier in this review, for me an imperative factor in this transition was to make the games “feel” the same, the intangible quality that was so specific and evident in the original games but lacked in other titles, the feeling so hard to define, HAD to be present in this remaster. And the result? It’s 99% there. And I emphasise 99%. Sometimes the game play mechanics feel a little “off”, sometimes the controls are a little stiff, but overall they do feel the same, very much so. There’s one or two things that are different in the mechanics, again, something hard to give examples of, but one thing is the ice levels in Crash 2 – gliding across the ice doesn’t “feel” the same as the original games, they definitely got that wrong and you have to mentally adjust to that if you’re playing comparatively from the original from 1997.
However, I emphasise the mechanics and controls are almost identical, “for good or for bad”. Why? Crash Bandicoot is HARD. Especially the first game. The second and third games are a lot easier than the first, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that overall as a package, this game, even though it’s aimed at a younger audience, is a tough nut to crack. And while the controls and mechanics are almost identical to the original games, this could throw some people off. Aiming for that ambitious jump? Good luck. You’ll go, “how did I not make that jump! This is ridiculous!”. You’ll swear there was enough space between you and Nitro boxes. If you do Time Trials, be prepared for trial and error, getting far into a level before falling down a pit at the end. This game requires a lot of patience and it’s something a lot of modern day gamers may struggle to adapt to, when, generally speaking, games are easier than they were in the nineties.
No joke here. I love this picture, it's totally badass.
A final thing about the mechanics - if you’re someone that completely mastered the original Crash Bandicoot series (something that I actually did only 2-3 months ago), I would like to stress that this game isn’t identical. I said earlier that it’s 99% the same, but those 1% moments make a big difference. I got Game Over on Crash 2 a good few times in my run through that game, despite the fact that in my run through the original game only 2-3 months ago I finished the game with 82 lives and didn’t get Game Over once. There’s just certain parts of the remaster that are just harder than the original. I can’t put my finger on what makes those moments harder, they just are. You point and go – “I didn’t lose so many lives on this part of the game on the original!” – and you just can’t put into words what it is. Trust me on this, it’s not me being bad at the game, it’s just legitimately harder! That being said, if you’re not someone that played the games over and over again, and you only played Crash on occasion, you probably won’t notice. But it is super hard regardless!
This next paragraph is for those who have played the original trilogy and want to know what’s added into the game, or what remains on a subtle level. I mentioned it earlier briefly but you can now play as Coco in Crash 1 and 2, something you weren’t able to do before. Coco in these games plays almost identical as Crash does and is purely there as for novelty purposes, in the end her presence completely goes against the story of the game but they did justify that by saying that she “uses the time machine from Crash 3 to relive Crash’s old adventures”. Coco can’t play every level however, but she can play most of them. Also, she can’t be used to go against the bosses either. As stated earlier too, you can now do Time Trials in Crash 1 and 2. There’s also a leaderboard, so you can compare your times to how people are doing around the world, which is nice. Also, if you beat Crash 2, you can unlock the Spint Shoes (also named Crash Dash) ability from Crash 3, which is definitely required because some of the Platinum times that you need to beat are just crazy. The password saving system from Crash 1 has been removed and replaced with a simple system similar to Crash 2 and 3, and the bonus levels from Crash 1 allow you to try as many times as you wish, which too is similar to Crash 2 and 3. When you get Game Over, Uka Uka from Crash 3 is the one to give you the bad news, regardless of what game you’re playing. This, in my opinion is a bit odd, mainly due to the fact that he was imprisoned up until the story of Crash 3 so there’s an error of continuation. The jet pack levels of Crash 2 gives you an option of inverting the up and down buttons to down and up, if that makes sense, so those who found the controls confusing in the original game can change them in the Options menu.
Overall, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a brilliant remaster of the original games which came out, 21, 20 and 19 years ago respectively. Activision considering the circumstances, truly have put Wumpa fruit, sweat and tears into giving us the games we all remember playing two decades ago but with very polished look, remastered audio, some subtle but very justified changes to the games and have truly given it a whole new lease of life. Everything from the original Crash trilogy is there, all the good and the bad and you can’t fault Activision in many ways for the job they have done. And this game is great value, available in the UK for £25-£30 at base value, a bargain compared to most new games that have come out. The question really now is, what happens from here? Do Activision bring out a Crash Bandicoot 4, in a similar style to these three? Or do they bring out a version of Crash Team Racing? Early reports are saying this game has sold tremendously well, so this certainly won’t be the last time we see Crash Bandicoot on our consoles!
Rating: ****1/4 stars
As an aside, this is what rating I would give the original Crash Bandicoot games released in the late nineties in comparison:
Crash Bandicoot - ***3/4 stars
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back - ****1/2 stars
Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped! - ****3/4 stars
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Friday, June 30, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #1 + more!

Hello there. And welcome to the final post in my Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels listing. I hope you’ve enjoyed counting down some of the best platformer levels of all time, and counting down the thirty days until the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy comes out. I’ll be playing the game later today. I can’t wait. I hope it’s as good as the originals! I may even review it some time. We’ll see.

Before I reveal what my favourite Crash Bandicoot level of all time is, here’s a recap from #30 to #2…

#30 - Heavy Machinery (Crash 1, Level 18)

#29 - Snow Go (Crash 2, Level 2)

#28 - Bone Yard (Crash 3, Level 4)

#27 - Jungle Rollers (Crash 1, Level 2)

#26 - Piston It Away (Crash 2, Level 21)

#25 - The Lab (Crash 1, Level 29)

#24 - High Time (Crash 3, Level 13)

#23 - Night Fight (Crash 2, Level 23)

#22 - Road Crash (Crash 3, Level 14)

#21 - Crash Dash (Crash 2, Level 5)

#20 - N. Sanity Beach (Crash 1, Level 1)

#19 - Dino Might! (Crash 3, Level 11)

#18 - Native Fortress (Crash 1, Level 9)

#17 - Double Header (Crash 3, Level 15)

#16 – Boulders (Crash 1, Level 4)

#15 - Cold Hard Crash (Crash 2, Level 18)

#14 - Midnight Run (Crash 3, Level 10)

#13 - Castle Machinery (Crash 1, Level 27)

#12 - Eggipus Rex (Crash 3, Level 32)

#11 - Rolling Stones (Crash 1, Level 7)

#10 - Toad Village (Crash 3, Level 1)

#9 – Upstream (Crash 1, Level 5)

#8 - Bear It (Crash 2, Level 8)

#7 - Hog Ride (Crash 3, Level 8)

#6 - Hog Wild (Crash 1, Level 8)

#5 - Turtle Woods (Crash 2, Level 1)

#4 - Orient Express (Crash 3, Level 3)

#3 - Hang Eight (Crash 2, Level 3)

#2 - Hang'em High (Crash 3, Level 7)

So! Here we are! What is my favourite Crash Bandicoot level of all time? It happens to be…

#1 Un-Bearable
Game: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Level: 15 (of 27)
Level Type: Chase
Random Fact: This is the only Chase level in the entire series where you also ride an animal. The level is called “Escape From Papa Bear” in Japan, which confirms that the large bear running after you is in fact Polar’s dad and possibly his relatives too?
Imagine this. You’ve played Crash 1. You’ve beaten Boulders. You’ve played through the other Chase levels. They were fun.

You then play Crash 2. You’ve beaten Crash Dash. You’ve noticed that the Chase levels in Crash 2 are similar but longer chase levels to the ones in Crash 1.

You then get to Level 15. But something’s different. It’s not a big lump of rock chasing you, oh no. It’s a MASSIVE polar bear!

You run away from this magnificent beast, with even more adrenaline pumping through you than the other chase levels. That rock was a pain in the butt to deal with, but this bear makes the whole thing so much more exhilarating.

The level is nearly over. But what’s this? Is that Polar, from the 8th level “Bear It”. Seriously?? I’m going to ride Polar whilst running away from a bear ten times his size?? This is insane!!

For me, Un-Bearable is the most fun Crash Bandicoot level of all time. I love Chase levels. I love riding the Hog, Polar and Pura in each game. But for me, Un-Bearable combining the Chase levels whilst riding Polar is just the most fun I’ve ever had in a Crash Bandicoot game. The only problem is that that part of the level is too short. Otherwise, the whole level is brilliant in its design, and it’s clever in the way it throws the player right off, when they expect another rock chase level but instead get the massive polar bear chase instead. It’s just genius. And so much fun! And is my favourite Crash Bandicoot level of all time.

And this is what Un-Bearable looks like in the Remaster!

So there we have it! If you’ve been following this listing every day for the last month I thank you. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list, and by all means, tell me what your favourite Crash Bandicoot levels are!

Here are some nerdy things that I tend to do when I do a big listing…

Most Popular Level Styles
5x Jungle Levels (Turtle Woods #5, Rolling Stones #11, N. Sanity Beach #20, Night Fight #23, Jungle Rollers #27)

3x Chase Levels (Un-Bearable #1, Boulders #16, Crash Dash #21)

3x Prehistoric Levels (Eggipus Rex #12, Dino Might! #19, Bone Yard #28)

2x Arabian Town Levels (Hang'em High #2, High Time #24)

2x Factory Levels (Castle Machinery #13, Heavy Machinery #30)

2x Medieval Levels (Toad Village #10, Double Header #17)

2x Pura Levels (Orient Express #4, Midnight Run #14)

2x Race Levels (Hog Ride #7, Road Crash #22)

2x Snow Levels (Cold Hard Crash #15, Snow Go #29)

2x Stream Level (Hang Eight #3, Upstream #9)

Those level styles account for 25 of the 30 games in the list!

As you can see, I was quite impartial when choosing my favourite levels. It wasn’t completely intentional, I genuinely do believe these are my thirty favourite levels. I’m surprised Crash 1 had so many levels in the list to be honest, because overall, it’s my least favourite Crash game by some margin. Crash 3 is my favourite though, but Crash 2 is nearly as good and sometimes I do think, do I prefer it? But then reaffirm to myself that Crash 3 is the best.

In play-through order – here are the levels in order of which you would play them if you were to play Crash 1, 2 then 3 in order. Note that secret levels are at the end of the games, even if you can play them earlier.

Crash Bandicoot
#1 N. Sanity Beach (#20)
#2 Jungle Rollers (#27)
#4 Boulders (#16)
#5 Upstream (#9)
#7 Rolling Stones (#11)
#8 Hog Wild (#6)
#9 Native Fortress (#18)
#18 Heavy Machinery (#30)
#27 Castle Machinery (#13)
#29 The Lab (#25)
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
#1 Turtle Woods (#5)
#2 Snow Go (#29)
#3 Hang Eight (#3)
#5 Crash Dash (#21)
#8 Bear It (#8)
#15 Un-Bearable (#1)
#18 Cold Hard Crash (#15)
#21 Piston It Away (#26)
#23 Night Fight (#23)
Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
#1 Toad Village (#10)
#3 Orient Express (#4)
#4 Bone Yard (#28)
#7 Hang'em High (#2)
#8 Hog Ride (#7)
#10 Midnight Run (#14)
#11 Dino Might! (#19)
#13 High Time (#24)
#14 Road Crash (#22)
#15 Double Header (#17)
#32 Eggipus Rex (#12)

Level Numbers Featured Multiple Times
Very nerdy, I know, but these levels are featured across multiple games:
Level 1 – 3 times – (N. Sanity Beach,  Turtle Woods, Toad Village)
Level 2 – 2 times (Jungle Rollers, Snow Go)
Level 3 – 2 times (Hang Eight, Orient Express)
Level 4 – 2 times (Boulders, Bone Yard)
Level 5 – 2 times (Upstream, Crash Dash)
Level 7 – 2 times (Rolling Stones, Hang'em High)
Level 8 – 3 times (Hog Wild, Bear It, Hog Ride)
Level 15 – 2 times (Un-Bearable, Double Header)
Level 18 – 2 times (Heavy Machinery, Cold Hard Crash)

…and that’s the end! Thank you so much, if you read towards the end. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to do a website post, but subscribe to my site if you wish, or give me a “like” on Facebook below or follow me on Twitter, to keep up to date with what I do next! I’m still doing radio shows so I’m always busy! Until next time, take care!

To go back to #2 click here.

Or to go back to the start at #30, click here!

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #2

#2 Hang‘em High

Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 7 (of 32)
Level Type: Arabian Town
Random Fact: The three Arabian levels in Crash 3 are actually prime numbers - Levels 7, 13 and 23. Also, they all have a coloured gem in each one, strange really, because there’s only five in the whole game!
It might be a surprise to people that one of my favourite Crash levels is Hang ‘Em High. My kids have started playing Crash over the last few months, and they’ve both struggled with this level (bless them, they are eight and four years old). But for me, I love this level from start to finish. I love jumping on all of the white bed sheet things, the hanging parts (especially when you are Aku Aku’s invincibility moment, when you glide across the panels really fast), I love the bad guys flailing his sword at you like a madman, and the death animation if he hits you too which is hilarious. It’s just from top to bottom an incredibly fun level.

Well that’s it now! The countdown is over! Tomorrow Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy comes out, and I’ll be revealing what is my favourite Crash Bandicoot level of all time! Come back tomorrow to find out!
If you missed #3 click here.

Join me tomorrow to find out what the final entry is in this listing!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #3

#3 Hang Eight

Game: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Level: 3 (of 27)
Level Type: Stream
Random Fact: It can be argued that this level is the first ever Time Trial level in Crash history – to turn the level into a Time Trial you have to run through around a third of the level (just before the jet board) quick enough to activate the timer.
Another random fact - it’s also the first level in Crash history to have parts of a level both on land and on a vehicle in the same level!

The stream levels in Crash 1 were cool, and the music was great. But the Stream levels in Crash 2 were so much better. They were longer, they were cooler, they were harder too but in a good way. The music in Hang Eight is just as good as the music in, say, Upstream in Crash 1, but it’s a completely different style of music, it’s more surf rock. It’s damn cool anyway. And doing the timer adds a layer of speed to the level never experienced before in a Crash game, obviously, not until Crash 3 anyway. But it’s more than that. Hang Eight has some awesome bad guys to deal with, obstacles to avoid, and going on the jet board is so much fun. The bonus levels are great too. For me, Hang Eight is simply one of the best platformer levels of all time, and it’s one of the levels I’m most excited to play in the Remaster on Friday.
If you missed #4 click here.

For #2 click here.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #4

#4 Orient Express

Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 3 (of 32)
Level Type: Pura
Random Fact: It is believed that the inspirations of this level (and Midnight Run) are from the south end of the Great Wall, somewhere in the Jinshangling section. This is because of the look of the watchtowers, which have similar looking sections in real life in that location!
I do love the Pura levels, like a I love all of the animal riding levels. The original Pura level is simply a thrill ride you’ll never forget, or at least, it was when I played it as a kid in the late nineties! As I mentioned in “Midnight Run”, the other Pura level that got to #14 in my list, I do love the fact that you can run even faster with Pura, in comparison to the Hog in Crash 1 and Polar in Crash 2. And I absolutely love doing the time trials for these levels too, they go incredibly fast and create a thrill that isn’t there in any other Crash levels. They’re just so much fun to play and Pura is absolutely adorable as well.
If you missed #5 click here.

For #3 click here.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #5

#5 Turtle Woods

Game: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Level: 1 (of 27)
Level Type: Jungle
Random Fact: To get the blue gem in this level you need to break ZERO boxes. To my knowledge, this is the only level in the entire series that you get rewarded for nothing!
If you were to ask me what my favourite of the “first” levels of the Crash trilogy were, then it’s “Turtle Woods”. Comparatively for quick reference, Crash 3’s “Toad Village” got to #10 in my list and Crash 1’s “N. Sanity Beach” got to #20 in my list. And, like always, it’s hard to point out why I prefer this level the most. I must try and explain though, that’s why you’re here.

I love that despite the fact that this level is relatively easy, it has some difficult layers to it. Like, getting the blue gem. Getting NO boxes, it’s gotta be easy right? It’s not! There’s a part of the level where there’s around 8 boxes creating a wall and not hitting them when jumping over them is a skill in itself. You’re not allowed checkpoints because they’re boxes too. See what I mean? I also love the secret part of this level. I played through this level many many times when I was a kid and had no idea it was there. Little secrets make games so much more fun when you discover them. And “Turtle Woods”, for the first level in a video game, has many.
If you missed #6 click here.

For #4 click here.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #6

#6 Hog Wild

Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 8 (of 31, including boss battles)
Level Type: Hog
Random Fact: This is the first level in Crash history where you don’t control Crash but the animal he’s riding! He rides the Hog in Crash 1, Polar in Crash 2, and Pura and Baby-T in Crash 3!
Strange, the last three entries have been the eighth level of the three Crash games! Anyway, again, I know I’ve said it a lot already but this level is a CLASSIC. Genuinely, I think those people playing Crash 1 back in 1996 probably never saw this level coming. The first seven levels of the game (one being the first boss, Papu Papu) have you control Crash, and, even if they are very different levels in style, NOTHING compares to what’s to come when you get to Hog Wild. It must have been such a shock to those players! The level’s music is also legendary, and to be fair, considering it’s the first level where you control an animal in the series, the level design is pretty good. Crash 1 suffers with its controls at times but “Hog Wild” is pretty much spot on.
If you missed #7 click here.

For #5 click here.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #7

#7 Hog Ride

Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 8 (of 32)
Level Type: Race
Random Fact: The four different “Race” levels in Crash 3 are at different times of the day. This one is at midday, “Orange Asphalt” is at sunset, “Road Crash” which was #22 in my list is late at night and then the secret level “Area 51?” is overnight when aliens come to play!
Ah, “Hog Ride”. The level so famous it’s actually the cover of the game itself. I remember Crash 3 coming out, having played Crash 1 before (believe it or not Crash 2 was the last Crash game I played out of the three), and seeing the motorbike on the cover, not knowing if Crash actually drove a motorbike in the game or if it was just a “cool” cover.

As you can imagine, when I got to level 8 in the game, I was so chuffed to find that it was a motorbike race level! And in fairness, the motorbike levels don’t disappoint at all. Sure, the controls are a little clunky, but they’re meant to be, I think. This isn’t a racing game, this is a platformer, so the motorbike levels can be excused for not being genuine racers. It’s all fun and games after all! I’ve placed “Hog Ride” as my favourite Race level, not because it’s the easiest but because it’s the most accessible of them all, in the end, it’s the first you play and the track itself is lots of fun! It’s just truly one of the most memorable Crash levels of all time.
If you missed #8 click here.

For #6 click here.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #8

#8 Bear It

Game: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Level: 8 (of 27)
Level Type: Polar
Random Fact: Before you enter this level, Polar sits outside of the portal. If you jump on him enough times, you’ll get ten extra free lives! It only works once though.

I love the Polar levels! And they’re all so very well designed too, a large improvement on the “Hog” levels from Crash 1. Polar is the cutest animal too, more so than Pura I find. The first Polar level, “Bear It”, is definitely up there in the best and most memorable levels in Crash history. The music is super cute, the ice is slippy to provide some difficulty and the bad guys lifting the blocks up and down can be a pain too. But it’s not that hard really, and the difficulty that does exist adds to the fun. “Bear It” is simply one of the best Crash levels in the trilogy, and very few people would say otherwise.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #9

#9 Upstream

Game: Crash Bandicoot
Level: 5 (of 31, including boss battles)
Level Type: Stream
Random Fact: This is the first Stream level in the entire series! Stream levels were expanded on for Crash 2.
I do love this level a lot. I love jumping from lily pad to lily pad, there’s something free flowing about that experience when you do it for the first time. And even though it’s the first level, there’s some difficult parts in it, especially again, if you’re playing through it for the first time. But the best thing about this level? The music. I find myself humming along to it every time I play it, it’s such a peaceful track but it also has some good beats to it too. It’s just one of the best designed levels in Crash 1, no doubt about it.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #10

#10 Toad Village

Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 1 (of 32)
Level Type: Medieval
Random Fact: The chicken at the beginning of the level can’t be defeated… unless you come back after unlocking the Bazooka and using it!
Kicking off the Top 10 is the first level of Crash 3. To many people this was the first Crash Bandicoot level and it is one of the best. It’s probably the easiest of the first levels of Crash 1, 2 and 3 too I’d say. The music, when it hits me when I play the game for the first time in a long time, just fills me with such joy. Also, the Medieval levels consistently have the funniest death scenes in the entire series and you get introduced to a lot of them here. The frog one is probably the best in the first level, when you get kissed by the frog, and turn it into a lab assistant. It’s just hilarious!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #11

#11 Rolling Stones
Game: Crash Bandicoot
Level: 7 (of 31, including boss battles)
Level Type: Jungle
Random Fact: In the prototype of Crash 1, there were POW crates in only three levels, this being the main one. A POW crate acted like a firework and blew up nearby crates (similar to a TNT crate), but doesn’t harm Crash in any way. The idea was dropped in the actual release of Crash 1.
I can’t put my finger on what it is about the large rolling stones in Crash 1 and Crash 2, but I find the levels really entertaining. Dodging the large rolling stones is just simply a joy, and because “Rolling Stones” has the most in any Crash level, I just find this level a hoot. “Jungle Rollers”, level 2 (which got to #27 in my list) is a very similar level to this, but the main difference is the difficulty. For me, the two levels aren’t particularly that hard, as I find dodging the stones to be quite easy. So because this has more, I definitely like it the most. There’s nothing more else to say really, it’s just a fun level early on in the game!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #12

#12 Eggipus Rex
Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 32 (of 32)
Level Type: Prehistoric
Random Fact: This is the only Time Trial level to have Wumpa Fruit, and therefore, you could collect a load of Wumpa Fruit, restart the level, and get even more Wumpa Fruit endlessly to get 99 lives!
Eggipus Rex is actually the only secret level to feature in my Top 30. That’s not to say the other secret levels aren’t good, I just prefer many of the regular levels more. But Eggipus Rex is incredible fun. Riding Baby T in Crash 3 is a really enjoyable experience, and in Dino Might (#19 in my Top 30) you only ride him for a brief part of the level. So when you basically ride Baby T in the entire of Eggipus Rex, the level naturally becomes so much fun. There’s a lovely feeling playing this level, not only because it’s a secret level, but also because you don’t feel under any pressure to deliver the goods, due to a lack of enemies and the fact that it’s actually quite a nice pace too. That’s not to say there’s no difficulty here, there’s some, but it only really plays a big factor in the actual Time Trial mode, when you’re trying to get a fast time.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #13

#13 Castle Machinery
Game: Crash Bandicoot
Level: 27 (of 31)
Level Type: Factory
Random Fact: This level, by a large margin, has the most extra lives that are not in crates in Crash history. There are 27 lives in a secret area all in one place (see the picture below)
Considering how hard Crash Bandicoot 1 is, you’d expect that Level 27 would be one of the hardest in the entire game. And while there are some very tricky parts in the level, the truth is, the level is quite easy. More than that though, this level is so much FUN. All of the platforms and steam machines are great to jump on, it honestly feels at times like a Sonic level. The enemies are few and the difficult obstacles aren’t that hard to get around. This level apparently was one of the last levels Naughty Dog created for the game, so maybe they just thought it’d be a good mercy level for the player. It’s a hoot, that’s for sure!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Top 30 Favourite Crash Bandicoot Levels: #14

#14 Midnight Run
Game: Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped!
Level: 10 (of 32)
Level Type: Pura
Random Fact: This is only one of two levels with Pura the tiger in. Despite what many people thought, Pura is a male tiger!
It’s such a shame they only did two Pura levels in Crash 3, they were both so much fun. Of course, the formula had been done before, first with the hog in Crash 1 and Polar in Crash 2. By Crash 3 they got the formula spot on but added the Great Wall of China theme to it instead. So many obstacles to manoeuvre around, and you can even speed Pura up, something you couldn’t do in Crash 1 and 2. And on top of all of this, Pura the tiger is just so damn cute! I always look forward to playing these Coco levels, it almost makes up for the horrible jet ski levels!

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