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Developers: Naughty Dog
Publishers: Sony Entertainment
Plot: Mad scientist, Cortex, creates genetically modified animals to help him take over the world. One animal, a bandicoot, goes rogue and threatens to ruin the whole operation.

Looking back on the video gaming experience as a whole, Crash Bandicoot remains one of the fondest memories. The simple platforming layout, the easy to get to grips with controls: everything about Crash Bandicoot screams a gaming classic. I dare you not to love this game. I dare you.

The levels consist of three islands, as Crash, the lead protagonist for those that haven’t guessed yet, makes his way through them and towards Cortex’s castle where he has Crash’s crush, Tawna, prisoner. Each level has a pretty simple formula. You make your way to the other side of the level, jumping over obstacles and spinning away any creature that gets in the way. These were the days when we didn’t need power-ups and special weapons to keep us entertained. All we needed and asked for were some tricky challenges to make us happy. The levels are unique enough to always keep the game fresh, only copying itself on purpose, to give the gamer a harder challenge than the last time. The new gamer is thrown into a new world every time. The returning gamer is drowned in nostalgia. It is an immersive and fantastic experience.

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Surprisingly these levels do get tricky. While you are likely to blast through the first few stages in an hour or less, you will find yourself well and truly stumped as the game hits the midway point. There are still levels, (especially the fricking castle wall mission), that catch me out to this very day. Jumps become insanely precise, timing becomes crucial, checkpoints become less frequent and enemies need some planning before taking on. The final bosses, while still falling under the same predictable formula that most early platformers stick to, are fun to take on and try to work out. While I have before complained that Spyro the Dragon feels infantile in hindsight, Crash will still prove a refreshingly puzzling experience. On top of that, there are also little bonus sections of the level to head back through and find. Nothing overly exciting, yet there is a surprisingly strong sense of pride, when you find a little secret area, sometimes a path skipping a tricky load of enemies.

What you will realise, as you sit back down with this game, is that it isn’t quite the Crash game you remember. The levels can no longer be chosen in your own order and there isn’t the wide range of characters that Crash prides itself on now. The original game isn’t as much as a break-through as its superior sequel. You will notice that ideas have been dropped from this game. Most of the villains don’t make a comeback as frequently as the top bad guys we all remember. The closest thing we get to a vehicle level is that infuriating warthog. Crash’s love interest, Tawna, is thankfully never mentioned again. Even Cortex has a different voice actor than the superb vocal work we all recall and love. Despite being an enjoyable distraction, the very first Crash isn’t quite as rewarding an experience as some of the other instalments.

Final Verdict: If you are looking for the full Crash experience, try the sequel. This game is more for those wanting to see where it all started.

Three stars

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