"We carefully considered the choice to unify the design of these games, for example, how save and bonus rounds work, so that players could have a cohesive experience across all three games in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy."
- Excerpt of a polite Vicarious Visions blog post about the development of the N. Sane Trilogy.
Lots of devs agree that old games should be, where possible, made accessible and playable by modern audiences. In practice, fewer devs agree on the best way to do that.
Here's an interesting example: to revamp Naughty Dog's PS1-era trilogy of Crash Bandicoot games for its recently-released Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the folks at Vicarious Visions actually had to rebuild the games nearly from scratch, without access to source code.
Notably, the team reportedly studied the original games in detail, then built prototype versions and did video comparisons between the prototypes and the older versions to check things like the timing of jumps and falls.
Now, folks at the studio have publicly addressed player complaints about perceived changes in the games' physics systems (like the speed at which Crash falls in the original Crash Bandicoot) by breaking down how and why they decided to change fundamental aspects of the original games.
"Our goal for the Trilogy was to reduce any points of frustration while preserving the challenge of the originals, and we feel we’ve done that," reads a Vicarious Visions blog post published this week. "We want the best experience for all players, and Crash’s handling falls into this category. We spent a lot of time studying the three titles and chose the handling from Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped as our Trilogy’s starting point; it represented the most improved and modern approach as it gives players the most control."
This approach stands in stark contrast to other, more literal-minded rereleases and remasters that aim to present older games exactly as they were, albeit with modern conveniences like increased resolution and perhaps a save feature.
Vicarious Visions acknowledges that the N. Sane Trilogy differs from the original Crash games in some key areas, but cleaves to its mission to "unify the design" of the three games for players' sake.
"An increased precision is now required in the first game, which makes the gameplay experience different. Particularly if you are a new player, you may want to start with the second and third games first, and then come back to try Crash Bandicoot after you’ve had more practice," reads the post. "For those of you who played the originals and acquired a fair amount of muscle memory, re-learning the handling in our game may present an additional challenge you weren’t expecting. But we’re sure you up to the task."
You can read more about how (and why) the original games were adapted for the N. Sane Trilogy in the full blog post.
For a bit more insight into exactly how wild and woolly it was to be making the original Crash Bandicoot (one of the first 3D platformers on PlayStation) check out this anecdote from one of the game's programmers about how he wound up debugging a problem seemingly caused by quantum mechanics.