Crash Bandicoot: Warped Is Better On PS1

VOICE OVER: Ty Richardson WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
As the third installemnt in the Crash Bandicoot series, Warped holds a big place in many fans' hearts. But with the N. Sane Trilogy re-release of the game, how does the original PS1 version hold up? Is it still the definitive way to play the game? What improvements did the remake employ, and where does it falter? All that and more in Ty's Retro Review of Crash Bandicoot Warped!
Script written by Ty Richardson

Crash Bandicoot: WARPED Retro Review

If you were to ask me what my five favorite games of all-time were, I’d tell you - from bottom to top - “Banjo-Tooie”, “Hades”, “DOOM”, “Crash Team Racing”, and “Crash Bandicoot: WARPED”. But why does the marsupial steal the top two positions? Well, before I was using empty laundry baskets to shield myself from Imps and Hell Knights, my dad had bought me what I consider my first deep dive into video games, the one that would set me on my lifepath. “Crash Bandicoot: WARPED” had captured my small child brain in such a way that I couldn’t step away from it. Even today, I am such a “Crash Bandicoot” fan that I’ve even written a few videos for WatchMojo and MojoPlays, having reviewed the “Crash Team Racing” remake in 2019 as well as a review on the recent “Crash 4”. I even wrote the “Top 10 Best & Worst Crash Bandicoot Games” on top of our fairly recent “Every Crash Game Ranked” video. (Can you tell that I love Crash?) But what is it about “WARPED” that made me so enthralled with the series? Why did I only place it at #2 on our ranking if “WARPED” is my favorite game? And which version is the most ideal for you to play? And fair warning - the animation dweeb inside me is going to shine later on.

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen of the internet! My name is Ty with MojoPlays, and this is my Retro Review of “Crash Bandicoot: WARPED”!

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“WARPED” picks up at the end of “Crash 2’s” true ending, where Cortex’s satellite has exploded into bits. However, one massive chunk of it has fallen into orbit and inexplicably shatters an ancient temple, freeing a malicious mask known as Uka Uka. With the help of one Dr. Nefarious Tropy, Cortex and Uka Uka plot to use Tropy’s Timetwister to retrieve the Power crystals from history. Crash and friends will have to hijack the machine and beat the mad doctors to the punch if they are to save the world!

Between the original three games, “WARPED” has some of the most varied environments as well as gameplay. You have levels taking you to medieval times, ones that see you racing across desert highways, dinosaur chases in prehistoric times, and even jet skiing around seas littered with pirates! For any kid, this would be the ultimate adventure, and you can imagine my awe and excitement whenever I booted up the game. Despite having several different playstyles working under the same engine, “WARPED” manages to make them all work surprisingly well. Every level presents its own set of challenges with different enemies, reliance on using new moves to their full advantage, and excellent controls...except for the racing levels. It didn’t make much sense to incorporate tight turns and bending roads when it’s almost impossible to turn and slow down without going off-road. Though, I can forgive considering there’s only a small number of these racing levels.

As any “Crash” fan would expect, collecting the Crystals won’t be enough to see the real ending of the game. Gems and Time Relics add a layer of replayability by tasking you with smashing every crate in the level and reaching the end in the shortest amount of time respectively. They aren’t a cakewalk to accomplish, but they also aren’t incredibly strenuous, not compared to “Crash 2”, anyways.

Speaking of which, it’s a little jarring how “Crash 2” and “WARPED” are so different in terms of difficulty. “Crash 2” is arguably the hardest game in the series with several levels loaded with tricky jumps and requiring you to pull off tight maneuvers. Secret levels are also hidden in areas you normally wouldn’t think to look until you notice something’s off. (See the idle staircase of Nitro crates - a personal favorite of mine!) Honestly, it’s the difficulty and clever secrets that allowed “Crash 2” to steal the top spot on our Every Crash Ranked list.

“WARPED”, on the other hand, I found fairly easy to blast through, and I did so in two hours. Maybe it’s because of the countless times I’ve played this game, but if I ever died, it was because of the overzealous daredevil in me trying to pull off some speedrun techniques. Overall, jumps were simple, enemies weren’t all that challenging to overcome, and I was able to finish a playthrough before lunch. As for the secret levels, I found their locations to be a bit obtuse. For example, one of the racing levels features a road sign with an alien on it, and running into it will send you into a secret level. But because of how fast you’re going during these missions, it’s a tad too hard to spot. The “N. Sane Trilogy” adds a couple of ways to make these secrets more obvious, thankfully. Said alien sign is now signified by a pigeon flying smack into it. Funny and suspicious!

Now, I could go on about how awesome it was fighting Dingodile once more and witnessing the death animations for the first time in years, but not everything was sunshine and Wumpa fruit galore. Much like my review of “DOOM 64”, I wanted to play both the original and modern versions of “WARPED” to gauge whether this classic adventure of the marsupial has improved with age or deserved to be brought back into the modern public’s eye. After playing through both iterations back to back, I started to form some grievances between both games.

The most obvious issue was the controls. For all of you tykes who grew up during the Xbox 360 and PS3 eras, I encourage you to try and play your games with an original PlayStation controller. Just try to play for more than a couple hours. If your left thumb hurts before the end of the first hour, congratulations - you have experienced what I call the dreaded D-Pad Spot, and let me tell you, it hurts like a #@$%! Here is my thumb after two straight hours of playing the original “WARPED” on PS1! That upside-down triangle imprinted on my thumb was from the original PlayStation controller. So, yes, playing with a Dualshock - or ANY OTHER CONTROLLER - is better than using that torture rack for thumbs! Please, if you have anything with analog sticks, use those instead!!

Hardware is really the only way that “WARPED” suffers when played in its original form. The “N. Sane Trilogy” remake suffers and the PC version is borderline unplayable. ...Scratch that, it is unplayable. For your reference, I use an Acer Nitro 5 with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, an NVIDIA GEForce GTX graphics card, and a 1TB SSD. I was able to get “DOOM” 2016 running on my computer at Ultra settings. So, why in the hell is “Crash Bandicoot” running at such an abysmal framerate!? I tried literally everything to get this game to run smoothly - lower the resolution, drop the framerate from 60 to 30, even put everything at the lowest possible settings! There is no excuse that a “Crash” game cannot function on this machine when “DOOM” runs smooth as butter. And while I’m at it, there’s no excuse that a “Crash” game cannot run at 60 frames on base PS4 or even PS4 Pro. There simply isn’t enough happening in this game that would make it impossible to achieve these technical standards.

Unfortunately, even on the more stable console version, the remake wallows in the shadow of its predecessor. Now, before someone has a meltdown, I do want to express my appreciation for the newer iteration. Vicarious Visions did an astounding job turning the “N. Sane Trilogy” into the fully realized versions of the original games...BUT only in controls and overall visuals. Allow me to elaborate.

When it comes to sound design, it’s important to not only SEEM believable, but FEEL believable. Let’s take, for example, Bone Yard, the fourth level in the game - more specifically, the dinosaur chase. In the original “WARPED”, the triceratops hides behind a wall of bones before bursting through it and chasing you. It’s so sudden that when experiencing it the first time, it puts the player on high alert. What makes the chase even more suspenseful is how loud and ferocious the stomps of the triceratops are. The impact of the bones breaking, the stomps of the triceratops - these two are what makes this chase one of “WARPED’s” most memorable moments.

Now, look at the “N. Sane Trilogy’s” version of it for a quick second. *show footage* Notice how the bones fall in a uniform fashion and how quiet the triceratops is. There’s no tension, no sense of a threat, no intensity. It’s saddening to see one of the game’s best levels lose some of its luster here, especially given Vicarious Visions’ exceptional track record with world-building.

My next grievance might be debatable to some. Another subsection of “WARPED’s” best moments were the plane and jetski levels. The former saw you shooting down biplanes and blimps while the latter let you race around seas littered with pirates. In the original, these levels felt expansive with their open areas and wide paths. Some may have felt these levels took too long to traverse, but I always felt that was part of the adventure. What are my boundaries in getting around this pirate ship? Can I make it to the next blimp before I’m shot down? The “N. Sane Trilogy” shrinks these down, which I can understand if your goal was to save the player time. To me, though, it makes these levels come off as more restrictive and less impressive in scope. Again, a sense of worldbuilding has been lost in translation.

I promise my possible blasphemy is almost over as this next issue is the last. (And trust me, this hurts me more than you may think.) There is no denying that Vicarious Visions was one of the best game studios when it came to animation. Love or hate “Skylanders”, you have to give credit where it’s due. These folks know how to put a personality into a character’s stance, movement, actions, and expressions. I remember after playing “N. Sane Trilogy”, I had told my friends and family that Vicarious Visions had animated the characters almost the exact same ways I would have if I were in charge of the project. It fits the classic cartoon styles that influenced the original “Crash Bandicoot” and transforms the original trilogy into a fully-realized version of itself. And before I continue, I warned you in advance - animation dweeb is coming now!

The problem I have here is that while the animations bring more personality, they do most of the heavy lifting to mask the on par voice acting while getting a little too exaggerated at times. Maybe this is all just personal preference, but what made the original Timetwister messages so cool was how they were presented in a way similar to a message transmission. Going into a level? Well, here’s the next boss talking smack to you. Yes, YOU! While characters were static, the limited animation and exceptional voice acting worked together and conveyed a character’s personality perfectly. In the remake, the characters are moving around so much that it’s a little distracting. There’s little sense of depth and spacing present, which makes these messages look unnatural. Is Uka Uka really small or just hanging in the back? I can’t tell.

...I warned you.

Yes, I have a handful of problems with “WARPED” both in its original form and the “N. Sane Trilogy” remake. However, I can recognize that I am a superfan - I am going to notice inconsistencies that others may view as nitpicky. Does that mean I think “WARPED” isn’t as great as when 4-year-old Ty viewed it all those years ago? Did I realize I had spent a significant part of my childhood playing a bad game? One could not be further from the truth. I still love “WARPED” with all of my heart, and it remains my favorite video game of all time. The game sparked an interest in animation, and even the “N. Sane Trilogy” made me reconsider trying my hand at animation again back when it first came out. The variety in levels and gameplay made me the gamer I am today. It doesn’t do everything perfectly, but it does everything just right enough to call it one of the best “Crash” games and one of the best platformers I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. And if I could pop the Platinum trophy for this game again, I would.

I really wish this was given better treatment on PC, though.