Crash Bandicoot 1 (PS1) Review | Video Game Thoughts

Hello and good day everyone! My name is Diana
and today I’m here to examine Crash Bandicoot
Okay, so like many children who grew up with
a PS1, the Crash Bandicoot original trilogy
holds a special place in my heart. If Croc
Legend of the Gobbos was the first video game
I ever played, Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes
Back was the first video game I ever owned.
Crash 2 was the game I got with my PS1 and
I know I played Crash 3 and Crash 1 at some
point afterwards, I just have no clue whether
I bought 3 before 1 or 1 before 3.
Either way, I can say that Crash 1 is the
game in the trilogy I played the least, down
completely to a combination of my lack of
skill and Crash 1’s save system.
That said, with regards to the entire Crash
trilogy, I played it a ton but never beat
any of the three, so for my videos on Crash
I decided I would go back and play all three.
Starting up this game and playing it today,
it’s wonderful. The gameplay is amazing and
it makes sense the core gameplay was never
significantly altered in 2 or 3. It might
seem silly in 2016 when I’m writing this review,
but having the character move toward the screen
and away from the player, basically taking
the 2D platformer and switching perspectives,
is a pretty innovative idea and it works so
well. It really is one of the all time classic
series and returning to it is like coming
back to the best kind of beloved childhood
book or movie: I actually enjoy the game more
today than as a child because as an adult
I can understand how many games in this first
era of 3D gaming just failed to get the camera
done well or the controls done well, so to
see a game that did just about everything
so well is a joy.
The first level also does a great job of introducing
the main concepts of the game (jumping on
enemies to defeat them, gaps, wumpa fruit,
Aku Aku). And there are early levels like
Boulders that do a good of job of testing
what you’ve already learned, turning the game
into something more fast paced and also testing
your ability to react quickly to visual cues.
There’s always enough time to jump and dodge
while staying ahead of the boulder if you’re
attentive to the cues on screen, no need to
memorize the level. Another bit of nostalgia
for me, I used to be terrified of the boulders
levels. It’s nice to go back and see how well
the levels work. And also that I’m basically
the same person, since I still died three
times on Boulders.
Later on the game brings in 2D levels as well.
In some 2D levels like The Lost City you can
effectively go into the background and then
return to the foreground, a nice trick before
2.5D was a big thing. The 3D levels also become
increasingly challenging as the game plays
with perspective, having you go forward into
levels covered in shadow or into doorways
that close and shut.
There are also vehicle levels, pretty much,
in the shape of the levels where you ride
a wild hog. That adds a nice bit of variety
to the game.
Frankly I’m a big fan of the level design
in the original Crash series, and Crash 1
is no exception. The levels aren’t quite as
varied as the levels in 2 and 3, but Crash
1 set an incredibly solid foundation of the
basic sort of level design and core mechanics
that the sequels would follow, and it deserves
a lot of credit for that.
Crash 1 does not use the analog sticks like
future installments, but the d-pad works great.
There are a couple jumps made a bit harder
by having to use the d-pad (Up the Creek comes
to mind), but nothing major.
Crash 1 is also a great looking game, particularly
for its time, but even today I’d say the cartoon
aesthetic really holds up. Upstream, especially
the water, still looks great to me.
The music is to me just as memorable as the
Spyro music, with a big emphasis here on percussion
The game starts out fairly easy, though by
the second world or island the difficulty
increases noticeably. Early on the game gives
you extra lives everywhere. You can also collect
100 wumpa fruit to get one life, and wumpa
fruit are everywhere. In fact since the game
rewards you for breaking all the crates, all
of which contain wumpa fruit except the ones
that contain extra lives, you are actively
encouraged to get as much wumpa fruit and
thus as many lives as possible. Really the
only exception to this are the explosive crates.
So I would personally end up collecting around
30 or so lives, and even though around the
level called The Lost City I lost upwards
of 15 lives per level, I still kept replenishing
my supply of lives pretty well, so that it
was only about four levels later, on Sunset
Vista, that I finally got a game over.
I don’t think this game needed a life system,
and I think that the only reason it has one
is because that’s the way things were done
back then. If the game were made today, it
would probably just have checkpoints where
you could restart an infinite amount of times.
With lives being so abundant in this game,
it practically is like that anyway, letting
you try the challenges an infinite amount
of times.
Because of the way the save system works,
I have never and probably will never beat
this game. As a result, I’m also not fit to
analyze the later parts of the game and its
design, since I’ve never played it. Maybe
what I’m saying would damage an important
and significant part of the game design. I
don’t know and I can’t say because I haven’t
played the full game. It’s just a thought
that the game would function as well or better
without the lives system.
About the save system. This is the sole reason
I have never progressed in this game and probably
never will finish the second half of Crash
1. The game only lets you save during bonus
rounds that appear often, but not every level.
And you need to survive until the end of the
bonus round in order to save; if you don’t
pass the obstacles in the bonus round you
don’t get to save. If you try to get every
crate in the bonus road, you probably will
have a hard time. I didn’t struggle so much
because I realized I was not good enough to
get every crate and so stopped trying and
just tried to survive.
I would prefer being able to save after every
level, like in subsequent Crash games. I guess
to a degree I’ve been spoiled by playing Crash
2 and possibly Crash 3 before Crash 1, so
the idea of being able to save only once every
so many levels makes me unwilling to finish
the game. The levels are fantastic and replaying
them isn’t a chore. I would just rather not
have the ability to save my game be restricted
in this way. And it seems like the developers
thought so too, since Crash 2 and 3 let you
save in the hub areas whenever you wanted
and kept the bonus areas as additional challenges.
That did have the result of making Crash 2
and 3, in my opinion, easier than Crash 1,
so if difficulty is really important to you,
that might bother you. I enjoy difficulty
in games, but I am also aware of my own level
of skill, so I welcome this change in the
later Crash games.
Okay, so I’ve already talked about how the
original Crash Bandicoot series is one of
my favorite series of all time.
But the story of the first game made no sense
to me because of Tawna, Crash’s girlfriend.
The way she was used in the game made no sense.
The game, or at least the manual, says that
Crash is trying to stop Cortex and thereby
rescue Tawna, who Cortex is holding captive.
So it’s a kidnap story, which I would have
been okay with. Usually kidnap stories aren’t
done well in the sense that the person kidnapped
doesn’t do anything to try to escape and also
no threat to the kidnapped person’s immediate
wellbeing is present. A threat
would justify the kidnapped person’s inaction
as an attempt to survive. But without the
threat, well, wouldn’t someone try to escape?
But, just because kidnap stories haventt been
done well in past doesn’t mean they couldn’t
be done well. I’d be open to see what a pure
kidnap story in Crash Bandicoot could have
looked like.
That said, If Tawna is being held captive,
how in the world is she ALSO at the bonus
rounds to help Crash save the game? (I’m assuming
that’s her purpose in the bonus rounds, to
help him save. I mean, if not that, then there
really is no reason for her to be in the bonus
rounds at all.) If she’s in the bonus round,
then she can’t be kidnapped also.
I just honestly think that the simple story
here could have been done better. There are
two types of stories that could have worked
well. There’s the kidnap story, which like
I said could have worked well. They also could
have made it where Tawna isn’t captured but
is helping Crash defeat Cortex in limited
ways, like by helping Crash save the game.
But with having a kidnap story and Tawna in
the bonus rounds creates this weird in-between
type of story where Tawna is supposed to be
completely helpless, but at the same time
she also helps Crash save the game, or at
the very least is present when he saves the
game, which means she can’t be completely
helpless and captured by Cortex, but there
is no logical explanation for why she even
can help Crash save the game if she is simultaneously
also supposed to be captured.
I wonder if ultimately the developers just
wanted to put Tawna in some part of the game
beyond cutscenes and so used the bonus rounds.
That in some ways is even worse, because then
Tawna is really reduced to being essentially
a decoration and that’s kind of messed up
to have the only female character be essentially
a stage prop.
Again, the point is not that Tawna had to
have a significant part in the game. It’s
that whatever part she had in the game, whether
secondary or tertiary, no matter how minor
her role, it should have been a well thought
out minor role, rather than just using her
character in ways that either make no sense
or don’t even treat her as a character and
instead treat her like a decoration.
Finally, I’ve touched on this before but I
hate how stereotypically indigenous people
are portrayed. In a game where the only other
enemies are animals, this makes it look like
indigenous people are interchangeable with
animals. And it makes no sense that they would
try to stop Crash. I mean, I can only assume
that they wouldn’t be fans of the crazy scientist
doing all kinds of weird experiments near
their homes. They’d probably want Crash to
get Cortex out of there as much as Crash wants
to defeat Cortex. It’s one very tasteless,
senseless, and painful part of the game.

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