Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped is the last of the Crash PS1 trilogy, and one of the best games on the system. Does it still hold up today?
|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Purchase (PS1)||Purchase from eBay.|
Alright, it’s been a while since I posted a review. Might as well make it about one of my top games from my childhood. Crash Bandicoot: Warped, also known as Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, was a real big deal back when it was released. It’s one of the biggest-selling games for the PlayStation (at the #13 spot), being the first non-Japanese title in Japan to sell more than one million units. While it didn’t quite sell as well as the original Crash Bandicoot, it was a sign that the series was going strong.
But of course, those were the bygone days. Eventually, the Crash Bandicoot series… crashed, so to speak. And tomorrow, the N. Sanity Trilogy comes out in the U.S., redeeming the series and perhaps foreshadowing a good future for it.
Enough of the hype. Crash 3 time.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped takes places directly after the events of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, presumably after the N. Brio ending. Cortex’s destroyed space station tumbled down towards the planet, colliding with a temple that frees an evil mask known as Uka Uka. It wasn’t long until Crash and his friends discovered this new evil.
Uka Uka decided to team up with Dr. Neo Cortex and bring some new villains along for the ride. And we learned that Uka Uka is the evil twin brother of Aku Aku, Crash’s mask companion throughout his journeys. Aku Aku somehow figured out that Cortex and Uka Uka planned to use a Time Twister machine to find all the Crystals and perhaps even take control of time itself. So it’s up to Crash and his sister Coco to journey through various time periods and take the Crystals before Cortex’s forces do.
Okay, the plot is still a bit rough around the edges but it is more solid than the one for Crash 2. It makes you anticipate what kind of threat Uka Uka will be and if this teamup of supervillains would be tougher than the last ones. Well, let’s see.
From the Prehistoric Era to a Futuristic Metropolis
Crash 3 once again is a 3D platformer that follows in the footsteps of its predecessors. And of course, the controls are slightly improved over that of Crash 2. Now Crash himself is nearly perfect to control. You can pretty much steer his jumps however you want and with high precision. While Crash’s default abilities haven’t changed from the last game, there are opportunities to gain more abilities—which I’ll explain in a bit.
Gameplay wise, the most noticeable change is the wider variety of gameplay options. This game is not just a platformer. There are also diving segments where you have to fight sharks, avoid whirlpools and blast away coral with a torpedo mini-submarine.
Trek through the Great Wall of China on a baby tiger as Coco Bandicoot—which replaces the hog and polar bear segments in the previous games.
Explore the pirate-infested Caribbean in these fast and really fun jet ski stages.
Race against Cortex’s minions through highways on a motorcycle, with a 1950s backdrop.
And even enter WWI-esque dogfights on a biplane while shooting down larger vessels.
There is so much to do in Crash 3 that it’s a little overwhelming. But the best part is that every single one of these types of stages control well and play well. Probably the worst ones out of the bunch are the diving and biplane segments, but even those are not too bad. Playing through them is a real blast.
Just like in Crash 2, your main objective is to collect the 25 Crystals in order to make progress through the story. Again, most of these are going to be out in the open so you can’t miss them. Occasionally, there are other requirements. Like in the motorcycle race stages, you have to reach 1st place to get the Crystal.
The Gems also make a return, serving a similar purpose as that in Crash 2. You can collect those by breaking every single box in a stage or collect them through more difficult Gem Routes and Death Routes (which can only be accessed via platform if you haven’t died in the stage yet). The main purpose of the Gems is to unlock an alternate ending after you defeat the final boss.
Gotta Go Fast!
And now, let’s talk about the new collectible: Relics. See that white and red thing? That sucker is difficult to get.
After you finish a stage, you can visit it and play through it again under Time Trial mode. Finish the stage as fast as possible, and you may win a Relic. Relics come in three colors: sapphire, gold and platinum. Sapphire being the easiest to get and platinum being the hardest.
What purpose do Relics serve? Well, if you collect five of them of any color, a platform appears at the center of the hub area. The platform takes you to THIS place.
This hidden room takes you to new stages and hidden areas of previous stages you cleared. The more Relics you collect, the more stages you unlock. This will help you inch towards completion of the game.
So if you can collect Relics of any color, what other purpose do they serve? Well, let me confess one thing.
CRASH 3 IS A COMPLETIONIST’S NIGHTMARE!
Sapphire Relics are there to meet the minimum requirements to access the hidden room. Gold Relics don’t really serve any purpose other than to say you got an even better record on Time Trial mode. But platinum Relics? If you collect every single platinum Relic, a hidden Gem will appear in the hub area through this GLORIOUS EXPLOSION as if someone tried to shoot you down with fireworks. And that colorless Gem will be a part of your bragging rights.
But here’s the thing: PLATINUM RELICS ARE FUCKING HARD TO GET.
And I’m dead serious about that. While playing Time Trial modes of past stages, you have to be PERFECT. You need to break every time extension box, take every shortcut possible, and take damage as necessary… in order to finish the stage as fast as possible. Every millisecond counts here. And if you’re off by a SINGLE MILLISECOND, you don’t get the platinum Relic. This is easily the most strictly challenging thing to come out of Crash 3.
But once you do it, man, YOU’RE ON THE TOP OF THE FUCKING WORLD!
YEAH! FUCK YOU, GAME! I GOT YOUR STUPID RELIC!
I actually did complete this grand challenge once. Every single Gem and Relic. I don’t think I want to do it again… but I’m crazy enough to try it in the N. Sane Trilogy version of Crash 3.
Speaking of Gems, there are two hidden stages that you can only access through secret spots. In Crash 2, there were hidden spots that teleport you to a secret hub room. If you searched closely enough, you can find them relatively easily.
But in Crash 3? Tch, shiiiiiet…
To access Level 31: Hot Coco, you have to run over this specific sign in Level 14: Road Crash. This sign has an alien symbol on it.
And to access Level 32: Eggipus Rex (really, Oedipus reference, guys…?), you have to enter the Yellow Gem path of Level 11: Dino Might. And during the triceratops chase, you have to run into the second pterodactyl you come across without an Aku Aku mask.
These are such well hidden secrets that I didn’t discover them until I read about them online… YEARS after the game originally came out. But what was their purpose? Eh. More Gems. Colorless, by the way. And the levels themselves aren’t too fantastic…
I still have a little more to say, guys. Bear with me.
Let’s talk about the bosses here. Traditionally, Crash Bandicoot bosses are easy. Even Dr. Neo Cortex, who is usually an easy final boss. But let me say that Crash 3 featured some of the best bosses in the original trilogy.
Tiny Tiger, Dr. N. Gin, and Dr. Cortex make a return from previous games. However, Dingodile and Dr. Nefarious Tropy are new and cool creations. Unlike previous games, Crash 3 has these little cutscenes that play out where the boss appears and taunts you. This allows you to get to know these villainous personalities before you actually fight them, which was really cool at the time.
These boss fights are a massive improvement too. They have more complex attack patterns and more obstacles to throw at you, making them more satisfying to defeat.
But the N. Cortex fight is the worst one in the game, just like in the previous game. Even Uka Uka didn’t quite live up to your perceived threat of him. It was real disappointing.
But by far my most favorite boss battle is…
The N. Gin fight. Good. God. So here’s the scenario: you are piloting a spaceship as Coco Bandicoot and you are fighting N. Gin controlling a giant mecha, in a two-part battle where the mecha has two forms. There are multiple targets you have to destroy, and the battle itself is chaotic since N. Gin is launching attacks from everywhere. HOLY SHIT, THIS IS SO MUCH FUN.
I just thought of something. You’re an anthropomorphic animal piloting a spaceship, fighting a giant mecha in space. It’s like for this one fight, Crash 3 became Star Fox 64.
I’m not gonna lie. After I beat this boss the first time, I wanted MORE. I wanted to see more stages like these. Particularly, rail shooter segments where you play as Coco piloting a spaceship. Just like in Star Fox 64. But this is the only time that you get to control a spaceship. This was such a huge missed opportunity that the last stages of the game felt less fun for me as a result. Such a big disappointment. I wanted more hot Coco action!
Eh… um… boy, did that sound wrong… I’m… just… going to… bye!
Alright, let’s wrap things up. After you defeat a boss, you gain a new powerup. These powerups are pretty cool in general, with the most useful ones being the Double Jump, the Death Tornado Spin and the Crash Dash. You need ALL of those powerups to do well in the Time Trial mode to get the platinum Relics.
The Super Charged Body Slam is okay but easily the most uninteresting powerup. The Fruit Bazooka is a really cool invention, but mainly situational to help you get certain Gems and defeat enemies more easily.
So now that we have all this cleared up, let’s go over the smaller details.
The Nooks and Crannies
First off, I want to say that I really enjoyed the time travel aspect of the story. This is one of the first time travel themed games I ever played in my life, so going through all these different and interesting settings really made the game felt like it had more variety. My favorite theme has got to be the futuristic city, where Cortex controlled the future and filled it with powerful mechanical creatures.
The graphics were pretty good for the time, definitely pushing the PlayStation up to its limits. The soundtrack was catchy, and I liked how the bonus stages and gem/death routes had their own motifs. And depending on which stage theme you’re on, the motifs are remixed.
Now, here are some minor complaints. For one thing, Coco Bandicoot was restricted to specific levels. And her default controls… weren’t that good. You can pretty much leave her out of the game entirely and have Crash in her place instead… and literally nothing would change. Hell, she doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in this game, unlike in Crash 2. So Crash 3 was a missed opportunity to make her into a more full-fledged playable character.
However, this was addressed in the PS2 sequel Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, where Coco was fully playable. And for the upcoming N. Sane Trilogy, Coco will also be playable. So this is fine. I’m hoping that Coco actually controls differently in the N. Sane Trilogy and isn’t just a palette swap of Crash.
And fans may disagree with me on this… but this game is the least like the series in the original trilogy. The first and second Crash Bandicoot games are mostly platformers, with some rare gameplay changes. The difference here is that the third game embraced those gameplay changes more. As a result, we got less platforming stages and more of those new gameplay stages. And since there are only a little over 30 stages in the game (some of which were hidden), Crash 3 felt shorter as a result.
I mean, there are FOUR jet ski stages. That’s quite a lot, especially considering some stage themes only occur twice at most.
I know Crash 3 is the most polished game of the original trilogy, but… I would have to say that Crash 2 is my personal favorite in terms of gameplay. Yes, I know. Weird choice, and Crash 3 is definitely the better game here. But Crash 2‘s level designs felt better designed to me. Its improvements over its predecessor felt like a natural evolution for the series.
But Crash 3 felt like several games mixed into one. It came out around the time when the first Mario Party was released. And because of the success of Mario Party, many games at the time felt the need to include a bunch of mini-games and gameplay changes themselves. It was a… you might call it an experimental period for gaming.
Final Fantasy VII, one of the biggest PlayStation games (and RPGs) of all time, also jumped on the bandwagon. There were many mini-games (most of which weren’t good), some of which you are required to complete in order to progress through the story. This was one of the biggest peeves for me in the game, which made me hesitant in completing the rest of the game. I especially hated the dolphin jump mini-game pictured above, because of how stupidly pointless and frustrating it is.
Now, I’m not saying that Crash 3 had the same problem. Like I said, all of the gameplay elements worked well here. But it felt like less of a Crash game and a little closer to a party game. This is really just a nitpick on my part, so make of that as you will.
So, is Crash Bandicoot: Warped worth playing? Well, of course, stupid! Not only is it a PlayStation classic, but it’s a great game in general. I would dare say that it’s objectively a near perfect game. It had so much going for it and it backed it up at full force. If you’re a big platformer fan especially, you’d have to be N. SANE to pass this one up. Play either the original or the N. Sane Trilogy version. This game is most certainly one of the most essential platformers out there.
Crash Bandicoot: WarpedPrice Varies
- The well polished platforming segments. The newly added Time Trials are a blast too.
- The huge gameplay variety of well made play styles.
- The big variety of different settings.
- Impressive graphics for the PS1.
- Excellent soundtrack. 'Nuff said.
- Some of the best boss fights in the series.
- Some missed opportunities here and there, such as making Coco a fully playable character and more stages of a particular gameplay style.
- The two hidden levels are way too easy to miss. You had to DIE in a specific way to access one of them.
- If you're going for absolute completion of this game, you're going to bawl your eyes out for hours on end.