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‘Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy’: A Case Against Cosmetic Remakes

Technically – and I mean that in terms of the technology – Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy looks pretty impressive when compared to the PlayStation originals. However, barring a couple of minor changes, “looks” are where the differences end; these games have received little more than a superficial do-over.

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Technically – and I mean that in terms of the technology – Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy looks pretty impressive when compared to the PlayStation originals. However, barring a couple of minor changes, “looks” are where the differences end; these games have received little more than a superficial do-over. Gameplay and levels remain the same with only minor changes (like alterations to jump physics, which actually break the first two games’ level design); the only big difference here that they are supposed look and sound “better”. All that is actually accomplished here is making the games look and feel different for the sake of it, removing the distinct uniqueness of the originals. This Trilogy is a prime example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” –a problem that broadly infects almost every project of this kind.

It’s important to preface this argument by mentioning that in no way do I believe remakes of these particular games can’t be made and done well, or that people can’t enjoy them. The question, from the perspective of art appreciation and preservation, is should they be made, especially when the results completely disregard the art style, sights, and sounds that made up the atmosphere and tone of the originals, while adding nothing of value to the gameplay experience? I don’t think so.

Visually speaking, what N. Sane Trilogy gains in polygons and shaders, it loses in the uniqueness still vibrantly present in the originals. Gone are detailed, nuanced looks to stages with their many different textures and painted lights, the 90s attitude to characters that made them very angular and “edgy” (pun very much intended), and the environments that looked like a mix of pleasant and rundown; the kind of things that add character.

Instead, we now get levels gaudily dressed in realistic, smooth lighting that looks uncharacteristic of anything but a demo of what a graphics engine can do. Meaningful details of the stage environments have gone missing in favor of for “Hey, don’t this stuff look shiny and stuff?” All locations look as goddamn clean as a badly gentrified neighborhood in L.A.. Instead of characters, we now get round, soft shapes that have been decided by both studio executives and recent animation school graduates as the only style that can exist within this current time period.

Gone also is the simple but charming soundtrack that blended well with the environmental sound effects; usually a bit understated but cartoon-y and friendly. Now, the soundtrack has to sound like over the top orchestral fluff, going big instead of subtle. The bigger, the shinier, the better, right?

Keep in mind, this Trilogy, is officially called a remaster, despite being a cosmetic remake. It makes sense: remake implies change and improvement. Remaster, however, within negative connotation, can mean something like ruining the mix by turning up the guitar volume higher than anything else on the CD release of Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers, because loud means better apparently.

With all that in mind, Is it even possible to correctly improve a tried and true classic? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

‘REmake’ above, original below. Drastically different but kept and added on to the feel of the original.

Meet the 2002 remake of Capcom’s first Resident Evil game from 1996 called, uh, Resident Evil; colloquially known as REmake (which later received an optimized HD port in 2015). Unlike N. Sane Trilogy, this release revamps the visuals and audio, already wonky for 1996, while tone and atmosphere are kept and enhanced. More importantly, the differences in REmake are beyond skin deep. Major improvements and changes were made to the gameplay in order to circumvent the limitation-based shortcomings of the original. As such, REmake actually makes a case for its resurrection.

The original Resident Evil’s “tank controls” were cumbersome by today’s comfortability standards, aiming firearms was not the most intuitive experience, the dialogue was unintentionally funny (I am glad it existed to give us all the quotes we remember today), and the game’s difficulty was unbalanced in many parts. Some would disagree to the need to change any of these things for nostalgia-related reasons, but I find it hard to believe that anyone would argue that the developers of REmake at least tried to create something newly improved, instead of simply splashing a new coat of paint on the whole, calling it a day. In REmake’s case, even the coat of paint was complimentary to the original, instead of being a departure.

In each comparison, screenshot above is from ‘Special Edition’ and below is the original. Click for full size.

In many ways the N Sane Trilogy reminds me of when, in 2009-2010, LucasArts came out with primarily cosmetic remakes of the original two Monkey Island games. Gone was the distinct pseudo-realistic art style that classic SCUMM games had and are remembered for, replaced by generic, round, pan-eyed cartoon characters. By being nothing more than a cosmetic change, this too came off as completely pointless; different just for the sake of it, presenting itself as a better experience while missing every little detailed nuance of the original two games.

Of course, my opinion on this matter might seem a bit nit-picky, but I simply don’t understand the need to replace unique experiences, especially when the end result is of generic quality, failing to preserve original art. I see it as a form revisionist history. All of this is something that I believe Activision and Vicarious Visions should have taken into consideration when they took on Naughty Dog’s classic Crash games, if they ever expected to make anything beyond something that earns them a quick buck via unearned nostalgia. They have made the same mistake that so-called antique restorers make when they paint an old, beautifully hand-carved wood dresser in bright turquoise and yellow colors. As I stated in the beginning, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”; it shows a lack of understanding and appreciation for the craft.

Personally, I am disappointed in developments like these. You could argue that consumers today don’t want varied and different experiences that make them appreciate things in the context in which they exist or existed. But, how would we know if we don’t let the consumers judge for themselves instead of conditioning them to absolutes? That things have to look and feel a very specific way in order to be enjoyed? However, maybe I am giving too much credit to consumers, and instant gratification is all that is required. Nothing will prevent me from playing the three original Crash games, of course, and I hope at the very least, Crash N. Sane Trilogy doesn’t prevent others from enjoying the original experience either.

Immensely fascinated by the arts and interactive media, Maxwell N's views and opinions are backed by a vast knowledge of and passion for film, music, literature and video game history. His other endeavors and hobbies include fiction writing, creating experimental soundscapes, and photography. A Los Angeles, CA local, he currently lives with his wife and two pet potatoes/parrots in Austin, TX. He can mostly be found hanging around Twitter as @maxn_

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sonny

    April 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Agree with this wholeheartedly. N. Sane feels sterile, generic and wildly unfaithful in its presentation. It’s honestly amazing that they got it so wrong.

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Watch Ninja On An Episode Of Family Feud

Don’t miss the moment Steve Harvey meets Ninja for the first time.

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Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins is heading up a team on Celebrity Family Feud this weekend, but it’s not the first time the famed Fortnite streamer has appeared on the show.

Long before he reached household name status in the gaming community, Ninja appeared on the televised game show Family Feud in 2015, when he and his family went on a three-day winning streak before losing to the Beams family of Hendersonville, Tennessee.

With Blevins now appearing on an upcoming episode of Celebrity Family Feud, we thought it would be fun to revisit those earlier episodes which have now all been uploaded online.

Regardless if you like Ninja and/or the show, you’ll get a kick out of watching his introduction when he tells host Steve Harvey that he’s a professional video game player who travels across the country and competes, playing video games. The reaction on Harvey’s face is priceless since nobody at the time could have ever guessed how popular Ninja, not to mention streaming video games, would eventually become.

Watch the videos below. Enjoy!

[via Dexerto]

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Check Out the Explosive First Gameplay of ‘Kerbal Space Program 2’

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Kerbal Space Program 2

Gamescom 2019 brought with it a host of surprising game announcements and updates on existing games. One of the most unexpected announcements was the reveal of Kerbal Space Program 2, the sequel to the viral, totally accurate space simulator that first released on PC back in 2011.

Now, shortly after its initial reveal, Gamespot has gone live with the first gameplay of this much-anticipated sequel. Fittingly enough, the footage showcases all the spectacularly explosive spaceships, interstellar exploration, and intrepid Kerbal explorers that the series has become known for.

It should be noted that the footage is pre-alpha, so although the gameplay does show some issues with frame rate and graphics, those should be polished up before the game’s full launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2020.

Here’s the full description of the game, courtesy of its official website:

With the original Kerbal Space Program having become one of the most beloved games of all time and now bigger than ever, Kerbal Space Program 2 has been fully redesigned from the ground up to meet the demands of modern and next-generation space exploration, all while maintaining the monumental foundations of the first game. Build a space program, construct powerful spacecraft, design resource-gathering colonies, and much more to uncover the secrets of the galaxy. A plethora of exciting new features will captivate veteran and returning players, as well as usher in a whole new wave of Kerbonauts to the ingenious and comedic world that has entertained millions of players.

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Netflix Releases Teaser for ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’

The Netflix Television Event will launch globally on Friday, October 11

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It was on September 29, 2013, that Breaking Bad came to an end with the final episode of that series, “Felina” in which Walter White evades a nationwide manhunt in order to return to New Mexico and deliver the remaining profits from his illegal methamphetamine empire to his family. Knowing cancer will soon kill him, Walt revisits his former acquaintances to settle his affairs and prepare himself for the conflict and his death. When the credits rolled, audiences believed it would be the last time they would see many of these characters and while we did get a spinoff show in Better Call Saul, one character who hasn’t returned in any other show as of yet is Jesse Pinkman. That’s about to change…

Netflix announced on Saturday that it will release a new Breaking Bad movie that will center on Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who was last seen in the TV series speeding off in a stolen Chevrolet El Camino to parts unknown.

The film, titled El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, was written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, and will be released on Netflix on Oct. 11. The film is also expected to be broadcast at a later date on AMC, the cable network where the TV series was originally shown from 2008 to 2013.

Official Synopsis:

The Netflix Television Event El Camino: Breaking Bad Movie reunites fans with Jesse Pinkman (Emmy-winner Aaron Paul).  In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.  This gripping thriller is written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad.  The movie is produced by Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein, Charles Newirth, Diane Mercer and Aaron Paul, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

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