It all begins with N. Sanity Beach and things seem peaceful and much easier than you remember them being 20 years ago. In-fact, the first five or six levels in the original Crash Bandicoot game are quite easy. They introduce the majority of the game’s mechanics, going left from right, top to bottom, up ridiculous walls and they’re honestly a breeze.
Although, in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy this lulled me into a false sense of security and it seems like it will many others too. As soon as you hit ‘Hog Wild’, the difficulty ramps up tremendously (and almost unfairly). Especially the last jump (you’ll know the one I’m talking about) with the rotating pigs that almost seems impossible until you finally make it on the 20th time (without knowing that you did differently).
Most of the levels in Crash Bandicoot require you to memorise the levels in order to succeed. You literally don’t know what’s coming next until you’ve played the level twenty times. It’s an old design concept that isn’t used a whole lot anymore, but boy is it frustrating at times.
This is never truer than in the next level ‘Native Fortress’. Not only is this one of the hardest levels in the game, it’s also a ridiculous amount longer than the ones that come before it (and a lot of others). From memory, there are more than five or six checkpoints but it honestly doesn’t matter, as I find myself getting game over at the second one just as often as I was at the last one.
Whether it’s the stupid logs that you just can’t manage to get up and fall down time after time (which thankfully doesn’t kill you), or just missing a jump only to spam the spin button to save your life (which doesn’t work). It all just feels like bullshit when you see that game over screen for the twentieth time and feel like throwing your controller.
It’s one of the final jumps in the level where you have to get across three fire trampolines that really test you though. You need to memorise when it’s coming as you literally can’t see all three on screen at once and then have to jump at the exact right time in order to not instantly be burned to a crisp.
You’ll get there eventually and honestly, these levels are the brilliance of Crash. In the first few levels, I was worried that the stupid difficulty level was gone, but whilst I was absolutely hating these levels in the moment, I couldn’t wait for the satisfying relief of getting through another one soon after.
Crash Bandicoot is fantastically old-school in all the right ways, and it’s important to know that you’re not the only one frustrated with the game.