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Every single timer Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy gets mentioned it seems like it's always about how hard the game is. Well, it should come as no surprise that one of the original levels that didn't make the cut on the PSX was also super hard.
There's a brief news snippet on the PlayStation Blog revealing that Vicarious Visions has released a free DLC update for Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. The update contains a level called Stormy Ascent. It was one of the many levels that was left on the cutting room floor back during the original debut of Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation One back in the mid 1990s.
The blog also contains brief commentary from Naughty Dog level designer Taylor Kurosaki who originally put Stormy Ascent together for the game. However, despite all his hard work it never came to fruition in the final build and was ultimately axed. Taylor claims that the level was actually finished and somewhat playable but it was also just too darn hard...
It was one of the last levels I finished during production, and as we prepared to deliver our Gold Master to Sony for manufacturing, the decision was made to cut it. It was playable, but just too damn difficult, and we ran out of time to make it easier. It remained on the disc as it was less risky just leaving it rather than trying to remove it.
Kurosaki explained that during the early days of Naughty Dog the small team had to fulfill multiple roles. It's just how it was back in the day. Oftentimes audio engineers were also composers. Artists did programming, and sometimes programmers did level design. Kurosaki explained that he came in as an artist but ended up working as a level designer on the first Crash Bandicoot and Stormy Ascent was one of the final levels he worked on for the game before it went gold.
The difficulty spike was just too high, though, and this was coupled with the fact that the level was four times longer than any of the other stages in the game. You can get a brief look at the DLC level with the video below.
One really cool thing about it is that the level is still on the original PSX CD. That's right, if you still own Crash Bandicoot you can use a Gameshark to unearth the level and play it for yourself. It was too risky to remove the level from the build as the game's gold master was being burned, so they just had it hidden on the disc to avoid any complications. Due to the way the levels were compiled it was a finicky equilibrium that had to be kept in order to make the whole thing run right proper, so that's why the team felt it was safer to leave the level in instead of removing it.
Stormy Ascent is said to be a sister level to Slippery Climb, which did make the cut. However, if you plan on taking a crack at the level be warned that it's no walk in the park.