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Every Core Crash Bandicoot Game Ranked from Worst to Best

With new installments to a once-mighty series comes an opportunity for reflection. In preparation for the release of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, I challenged myself to play back through the N. Sane Trilogy. I have since finished their stories and completed a majority of the optional tasks. My fondness for Crash and his antics remains, but visiting previous adventures before playing the latest one put things into perspective. I can clearly see the number titles for what they are, and some definitely feel better than others.

Crash 4 and More | Core Games Ranked from Worst to Best

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

4 – Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

For better or worse, this is my favorite Crash game. I’ve played it so much that I could write a dissertation on the crate placement. With that said, I do feel that from a gameplay standpoint it is the weakest. It did some cool things by expanding on Crash’s move set, adding new level mechanics and updating side-quests. The problem is with the content: While the game’s boss fights are more colorful, they’re not nearly as challenging, with the final fight being an anti-climactic chase sequence. Level variety is a bit lacking, with several overall layouts being repeated a few times with minor changes and extra hazards. However, the biggest disappointment is that this game makes jetpacks boring, with levels forcing you to control it like you’re playing Tetris.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

3 – Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

There won’t be a lot of dwelling here, since our Crash 4 review made my thoughts on the latest sequel pretty clear. While there are plenty of issues I have, there is also a lot I enjoy, as both a Crash fan and general gamer. It’s a faithful sequel that keeps with the traditions and adds a cool mask mechanic. This is also why it holds this place on the list: It’s almost too faithful. Aside from updated aesthetics, a few new gimmicks, and a longer to-do list, very little has changed since the trilogy released. To add insult to injury, it uses that same time-travel theme as the previous game.

Crash Bandicoot

2 – Crash Bandicoot

Here we are, finally at the one that started it all. There’s a reason why this Western-developed game was one of the first to make a huge splash in the Eastern market. Like Super Mario, it has solid controls, simple goals, and fast gameplay. It also has a decent variety of levels and boss fights, with a good level of challenge to boot. What holds it back is simply the limitations: There’s only so much to do. Going through the main story is really all there is, with the crates and gems usually being on the direct path. It’s pretty easy to get everything in a level the first time round, which reduces its replay value. Like the newest entry, it also suffers from unstable difficulty curve, with random levels and bosses being leagues harder than others. Still, I consider it a classic that continues to be fun even today.

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped

1 – Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped

Yep, this is the one! Step back and bask in the glow that is the third game of the former Crash trilogy. As sequels go, this one brought in time-travel as a reason to send players to different time-periods, with “historically-accurate” enemies and dangers to face. Powers were awarded for beating bosses, there are more gems to find, Coco joins in, and there are motorbikes! It’s a nice balance of variety, with a level of content and challenge that put this game at the top of the ranking. Of course, there are flaws: Certain powers make obstacles trivial, the motorbike/jet-ski levels are sadly restrictive, and some of the secrets feel illogical. However, I have to admit that these critiques are drowned out by how wonderfully it plays.

You could argue that it’s the easiest of the series, and I’d be hard-pressed to agree, but that wouldn’t change my view that this is the best to pick up and play for Crash and non-Crash fans alike.

Final Thoughts

Crash Bandicoot was one of the first video game IPs I ever really cared about. Something about the character’s goofiness, the promise of adventure, and the colorfully cartoon visuals drew me in. Though I’m older now and my critical eye has gotten sharper, my appreciation has also grown. While my ranking has placed each Crash title where I feel it fits as a game, I’ll happily play them all again. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some new Crash 4 outfits I’ve been meaning to try on.

Written by Andrew Smith