When remaking a game it usually helps to have the original game files on hand. Whether you use them for actual development purposes or not, having the raw data helps craft the experience and answer some key questions. Unfortunately this isn’t always an option, as was the case when Vicarious Visions looked to remake the original Crash Bandicoot PS1 games for the upcoming Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. How they got around these limitations is a pretty interesting story though.
During a private session with the makers of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy we learned a lot about the game, including that the team had added Coco as a playable character. Along with this we asked a few questions about how the game came together, which is when they revealed the problems they’d had in crafting a genuine and faithful experience.
According to the developers, practically everything from the original games was gone. By digging around they were able to obtain some original level geometry, but almost everything else had to be recreated by looking at the original games and trying to recreate it by hand. This is surprisingly tough with some things, like getting Crash’s jump working exactly right. If there’s any timing, distance, or height change then the fans will know. But when it comes to secrets hidden throughout the game it’s a whole other story.
When asked what had to be recreated for Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Game Director Dan Tanguay (who I previously interviewed at PAX East) replied “Most of it. The original engine was built for the PlayStation 1,” explained Dan. “That engine didn’t see the light of day beyond the PS1, as far as I know. Certainly it wasn’t usable by us, so any code, anything like that, we didn’t have access to.”
They got the meshes for the levels though, as well as some of the music, and after some work those could help with some elements of development. Other stuff could be worked on just by playing the game and watching it frame by frame, trying to recreate it in the new engine. But what about building the levels and the many secrets they held? Well for that the team had a wonderful wealth of knowledge thanks to the fans.
“The game is so well loved and documented online. So it was like, I’ve got a complete list of all of the secret gem paths and exits and things we have to have in there. So there was no ambiguity regarding secrets and things like that.”
Dan also explained that hardcore fans made up parts of the team, helping to point out anything that didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of recreating the originals. All told it seems like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a fan’s dream in a lot of ways. The game hits PS4 on June 30th.