CRASH BANDICOOT N SANE TRILOGY
PublisheR Activision / Developer Vicarious Visions / Format Xbox One / release date June 2018
There’s nothing quite like wrapping your fingers around the brightly coloured resin holds of your local climbing centre, and this year I’ve fallen in love with ‘bouldering’. Despite being a solo sport, it takes on a team-based aspect when you and a group of friendly climbers tackle a new route – or ‘problem’ – together. It’s not just about if you can reach the top, but also how you might do it, and you must think about what moves you will need to reach your goal. Collaborating on a problem’s solution, and trying ideas out one by one, turns the experience into a truly social one.
But what is a lengthy preamble on the joys of the climbing wall doing as the intro to a piece on the much less physically active pursuit of videogaming? Well, playing through Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy reminds me a great deal of my new pastime, and the game really shines as a multiplayer adventure. You’ll have to set a few rules for yourself, but playing Crash in controller-swapping, turn-taking co-op is undeniably the best way to play the game. My partner and I settled on a player having control over the titular marsupial until they fell foul to an ingame hazard, or aced a level, at which point the gamepad changed hands. Crash team The controls can be finicky, and with Vicarious Visions doing everything it could to keep the remake as faithful to Naughty Dog’s originals as possible, Crash’s jump is still one of the most frustratingly twitchy things in gaming. But if anything, that only adds to the multiplayer camaraderie.
When your partner fails a particularly tricky platforming section, the controller lands in your hands, slightly clammy and loaded with the weight of expectation. It’s up to you now to take on the Mantle of Responsibility. You’ll need skill, timing and patience to make it through a level in one piece and, just like working out a climbing problem, the collective delight of seeing your best laid plans come to fruition is a lot sweeter than any white gem. The feeling of joy when you scrape through a daunting area by the skin of your Aku Aku mask will have both players flinging their arms up in glee. It works the other way too. When one of you messes up with one life left at the end of a gruelling level that’s been diligently mastered by the other player (here’s looking at you, ‘Road to Nowhere’), it can feel like a betrayal, the undoing of what feels like hours of hard work. With an almost obsessive approach to smashing all the crates in each level, we came across some puzzling set-ups, with some high out of reach boxes requiring momentum and the use of every trick in Crash’s arsenal to attain. These usually appeared in the levels’ bonus sections – where a floating platform lifts you away to an intricate carton-smashing caper – with potential solutions tried out one by one, each of us taking it in turns and tweaking what we thought was the answer until something clicked.
Like the best co-op games, relationships will be tested, and friendships strained, and as the amount of ‘true’ couch co-op games continue to dwindle, now’s a good time as any to start looking for alternatives. A single-player game that can be turned into multiplayer experiences with some self-imposed rules, played with a friend is the best way to revisit these platforming classics.
“The collective delight of seeing your best laid plans come to fruition is a lot sweeter than any white gem”