Crash Bandicoot was one of the two big mascots for the Sony PlayStation. With the first three games setting the standard for the series, Crash and his friends were slowly passed on to other developers before it began to go downhill and fade out of existence.
Thankfully, veteran company Vicarious Visions decided to helm the red marsupial once more and create the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy which remastered the first three games in the series in masterful "Fur-K". Many people have looked to this remake as a standard that other companies can follow when remaking their own properties (no more texture upgrades).
Because of the release of this compilation, we thought it fun to go back through the series and see how the games stack up against each other. As is standard with these kinds of lists, we've included the N. Sane Trilogy to see how it fares against the rest of the franchise. To keep the article succinct, we chose not to include the mobile titles.
Take a look at where we rank the Crash Bandicoot series. Where does your all-time favorite land?
16 Crash Boom Bang!
I think we can all agree that this was the worst Crash game ever created. It seems that there was a desire to recreate the success of Crash Bash (more on that later) and put it on the DS. This led to a game that wanted to emulate the board game style of Mario Party but without any of the fun or polish. We've got Game of the Year material right here already!
Crash Boom Bang is a cluttered explosion of poor ideas, glitches, and half-baked mini-games. It's as deliberate of a rip-off as one can get, and there's no reason to ever pick this game up. If you're that desperate for a party game with Crash and his friends, just stick with Crash Bash. You'll thank me later.
15 Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage
Since Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon hit the PS1, fans had been clamoring for a crossover between the two. Needless to say, Crash Purple: Ripto's Rampage isn't exactly what we were asking for. Many people like to pretend that it never happened in the first place.
Crash Purple takes a silly plot where Cortex and Ripto team up to take down Spyro and Crash. In order to get the two heroes fighting, Ripto sends a bunch of Riptocs with poorly-made Spyro masks to attack Crash. Clever.
As if that weren't bad enough, the gameplay is clunky and full of mini-games that don't offer anything to the characters. When you fight Spyro, you have to throw stuff at each other and get the other to fall into a moat.
14 Crash: Mind Over Mutant
After the days of Crash Twinsanity and Crash Boom Bang, Activision wanted to try a different direction for the series. This resulted in a reimagining known as Crash of the Titans. While this game was decent for what it was, its sequel, Mind over Mutant, wasn't nearly as fun or inventive.
Crash: Mind over Mutant tries to follow an open-world formula, but all it really does instead is trick you into thinking that's the case. Crash simply goes down different linear paths that are all "connected" somehow. Furthermore, the combat is not as varied or interesting as it was in its predecessor. Then there's the whole idea that all of the cutscenes are presented in different animation styles. Why was this put in the game exactly? It doesn't add anything and only confuses players more in the end.
13 Crash Tag Team Racing
Mario Kart Double Dash was a game that subverted the kart racing genre pretty well, and Activision wanted a piece of the action. They created Crash Tag Team Racing, which is a pretty blatant rip-off.
However, the game is low on this list for more reasons than just its mimicry. Crash Tag Team Racing suffers from a poor case of identity crisis. In the hubworld, you control Crash traditionally and do that slow platforming that we all know from the 3D space. However, once you get to a portal you get to do some actual racing, which makes the whole package feel weird and unfocused. It's trying to do too many things, and because of this, both sides end up getting neglected. It's hard to recommend Crash Tag Team Racing when there are better racing games with Crash in it.
12 Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex
Here is where things to start head upward. Don't get me wrong, though. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex isn't a great game. For some reason, a lot of the characters were given different looks, and something about them just isn't right (especially Cortex). At the very least, the Elementals are all given a pretty good voice cast even if they're shoehorned in.
Then we move on to the actual game itself. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex has some good ideas with how it presents the actual platforming levels, but those are few and far between. Most of the time, you'll be controlling different vehicles and pretty much doing anything other than Crash platforming. Don't worry, though! You can also play as Coco, who plays exactly like Crash but with less effective moves and wonky controls. 10/10 right there.
11 Crash Bash
Yes, I put Crash Bash this low on the list. While I understand that a lot of people have fond memories of this game (I do too), after revisiting it, it's clear that it doesn't hold up and is nowhere near as good as many of us remember it as children.
While I do appreciate the approach it takes to the party format, just having mini-games to play rather than a board, many of these games aren't fun to play (Pogo Panic being the terrible highlight). There are a lot of great games, but many of them you'll never play because of how excruciatingly painful it is to unlock them all. The big thing with Crash Bash is that it's only fun for a little while, and there's nothing to keep people coming back for more than a day.
10 Crash Of The Titans
Now we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While Crash of the Titans has a lot of issues in terms of how it redesigns all of the characters (remind me again why Crash has tattoos), it does do a lot of things well with how it plays.
For example, Crash of the Titans is an action game rather than a standard platformer. You can take on lots of enemies and even different beasts known as Titans. With the help of Aku Aku (now voiced by the same guy who did Grim from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, for some reason), you can take control of these Titans and fight with them. This mechanic actually allows for some varied sessions and is pretty fun. However, the premise of Crash of the Titans was never fully fleshed out and there are still many things that could've been fixed.
9 Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced
When it was announced that Crash would be making the jump to the Game Boy Advance, many people were left scratching their heads. How would they be able to recreate the Crash formula on such a small (and weak) system?
Enter Vicarious Visions (bless their hearts). They decided that it could be done and created not one but two solid platformers for handheld devices. The second one was Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced. Not only are we given some unique gameplay, but we are also introduced to a new villain, as Uka Uka is sick and tired of Cortex failing all the time. This leads to solid level design, more fleshed out versions of the ball levels from Wrath of Cortex, and solid visuals for the console. It only gets a few knocks down because of them trying to give lore to Fake Crash and the small screen didn't always work for the platforming.
8 Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure
Despite both games for the GBA being fairly well received, it's the first entry, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, that deserves a slightly higher spot on this list. For all of the naysayers who thought that Crash wouldn't be able to work on a handheld, they were quickly proven wrong.
Not only does Huge Adventure look and play fine, but it also retains a lot of the classic feel and sound design from the original trilogy. The game is also every bit as challenging as the games that came before it, and it handles this difficulty well. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure is the best Crash game on a handheld device, and if you have the chance to play it, what are you waiting for?
7 Crash Twinsanity
I have a lot to say about Crash Twinsanity. It has a lot of great ideas that work together to create a very fun game. All of the great characters from the series are there for the party as well, which leads to some great boss fights. As if that weren't great enough, there are new villains brought into the series, as well as some great dialogue.
In this title, Crash and Cortex have to work together rather than fight each other. The game moves in an open-world style that actually functions much better than Mind over Mutant. It's entertaining, pretty to look at, and fun for what it is. The only problem I have with Crash Twinsanity is that the game feels unpolished at times. You will find a lot of glitches and be able to trigger cutscenes multiple times, and that takes you out of the experience. Still a fun game though.
6 Crash Nitro Kart
Where Crash Tag Team Racing failed, Crash Nitro Kart succeeded. Being a successor to Crash Team Racing, developer Vicarious Visions decided to recreate and expand what made Naughty Dog's kart racer so much fun. While it doesn't dethrone the original, Crash Nitro Kart has enough great ideas to make it a good time.
It functions and plays very similarly to Crash Team Racing, but instead has a better story and more eclectic roster of characters. There are some new mechanics as well, but most of them are hit or miss in terms of execution. However, there's no denying that the upgrade to the PS2 helped a lot in the visual department, as Crash Nitro Kart holds up pretty well, even by today's standards. If you're looking for a good kart racer, this game wouldn't be a bad option.
5 Crash Bandicoot
Does it come as any surprise that the Crash game that started it all is still one of the best in the series? The original Crash Bandicoot served as Naughty Dog's debut on the console, and it became one of the PlayStation's biggest titles. Featuring a quirky character with solid platforming mechanics and a ridiculous story that even kids could follow, there were few games that reached the height of Crash Bandicoot.
The gameplay was solid as well. While there are some hiccups that would later be ironed out in the sequels, those are minor complaints when looking at the whole product. Everything reeks of the high quality and polish that Naughty Dog would come to be known for, and it would spawn a fantastic series.
4 Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
The most recent installment in the Crash Bandicoot franchise is also one of the best in the series. After a disappointing run with other developers, Vicarious Visions worked hard to revive Sony's grand marsupial and it provided some great results.
While a lot of the marketing has labeled the game as a remaster, that's a large disservice to the game. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy actually builds the first three games from the ground up with a fresh coat of paint and some slight tweaks. The best part about it all? Everything that people loved from the original games is still intact. What's even more impressive is that the formula that Naughty Dog created all those years ago still holds up and proves that the first three Crash games are just really well-made platformers at their core.
3 Crash Team Racing
After Naughty Dog had their fill of platforming, they decided to make one last title with Crash. This led them to take inspiration from the Mario Kart franchise to create Crash Team Racing. Despite being a bit of a rip-off, Crash Team Racing makes enough unique changes (both mechanically and graphically) that it stands very well on its own as one of the best kart racers ever made.
If there's one bad thing I could say about this game, it's that unlocking all of the secret characters is extremely difficult (if you're not into that, you can just use codes). However, this doesn't stop Crash Team Racing from being a blast to play. Driving through each course against all-stars from the franchise is just pure fun and novel enough that it doesn't feel overdone, unlike a similar series featuring a certain Italian plumber.
2 Crash Bandicoot: Warped
It was extremely difficult for me to decide which Crash game should take the top spot. While some of you might be upset that Warped is only number 2, understand that it was a very close call and that's not to detract from the excellence of the game.
Crash Bandicoot: Warped feels like a celebration of everything Naughty Dog created with their trilogy and is the perfect finale to their series. The game takes Crash across different time periods that all feel distinct from one another. Couple that with some stellar boss fights, rock solid gameplay, and a beautiful visual style, and you've got a great platformer on your hands.
The reason I chose for it to be in second place is that some of the vehicle levels don't control very well, and there aren't as many secrets to find.
1 Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
I stand by my belief that the greatest Crash Bandicoot game is the second one. Cortex Strikes Back was such an astounding leap from the first game that it's a nearly perfect platformer. The gameplay is so well integrated with the story that I was invested from start to finish, and then some.
The game also allows players to go as deep as they desire. There are numerous gems to find in the world (harder to get than crystals) and some of them require you surviving a death gauntlet or finding a well-hidden secret. The level of depth in this game was unheard of in its time, and all of these mechanics fit together so well to make the greatest game in the Crash Bandicoot series.