Anti-Climax Boss: "Crunch Time", while still reasonably challenging, is a bit of a let down. Rather than having a proper face off against Crunch, the boss consists of a slow endurance of panel attacks by the Elementals before spinning a helpless Cortex. Inexplicably, Crunch is knocked out by the final cutscene, despite never even getting to lay a finger on him. Early storyboards suggest the final boss was meant to have been far more eventful.
The Greatest Hits/Platinum re-release of the PS2 version was optimized slightly, halving most the game's infamously long loading times, while the Xbox and Gamecube ports dumbed them down further. While the rest of the games' imperfections remain, many freely admit the game is enjoyable when more time is spent playing it than waiting for it to load.
This game fixes a problem in the PS1 games concerning the Nitro detonator crates, while only the Nitro crates themselves were destroyed if offscreen in previous titles, in this game it will also destroy any nearby crates with the same blast radius as normal, making gem missions a bit easier.
Awesome Music: If nothing else, the game has a great soundtrack. Credit also has to go to having the largest soundtrack of any Crash game, with just over 40 original songs - one for each level.
Best Level Ever: General consensus points towards Crash and Burn being the best level in the game for being the most aesthetically pleasing and a fair challenge for its point in the game (along with the total lack of vehicle gimmicks). It's one of the highlights for fans of the game.
The Time Trials of all things, especially when comparing them to Warped. It's much easier to gain Gold or even Platinum times even in the gimmick levels than it is for most other games.
Gems too, since this game did completely away with all Backtracking.
Contested Sequel: Longtime fans tend to loathe it for feeling too similar to the originals without bringing much new, while others (especially those who played it as a young age or have less access to the Naughty Dog games) love it, sometimes exactly for that reason. Most will agree that there are far too few non-vehicle levels, however.
The player can be made immune to Bottomless Pits during their Mercy Invincibility time. This is especially gratifying during the otherwise painfully slow ceiling grid areas, where you can much more quickly lose an Aku Aku to run across the pit.
If you're going through one of the "Crash dying" animations, pause the screen and return to the main menu, and you can keep the life you "lost".
During time trials on some levels (such as Smokey and the Bandicoot, level 13), some 1-Up crates stay. The lives acquired from them still count to your total, but unlike in normal level runs, they don't turn into normal crates afterwards. Combine this with the possibility of resetting time trials instantly for infinite 1-Ups.
Harsher in Hindsight: "Tsunami" has you evading a tsunami in an Asian themed area and then exploring the flooded remains as a gem pathway. After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, this level takes on a much darker feel.
Additionally, the game was released less than 2 months after 9/11, making the level even harder to stomach.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: The biggest gripe players had with this game was that it was a carbon copy of Warped!, only adding new levels. One of the reasons Naughty Dog closed the door on Crash was because they felt they took the concept as far as it could; the mixed reaction to Wrath due to precisely this reason aided the notion they probably made the right move.
Fahrenheit Frenzy contains two x-ray sections where Crash's skeleton can be put on full display.
Polished Port: The Xbox version has a few minor graphical bells and whistles, including better light and model textures and health bars given to the remaining bosses. Some issues with the PS2 version such as the long loading times and the lagged music loops are also fixed.
Porting Disaster: The GameCube version of the game, despite fixing the load times, had abysmal frame rate issues that caused the game to run below 30 frames per second in most places (no, not at 30...below!). Opinions tend to vary whether this is a fair trade or not, but it's still not very excusable considering the GameCube exceeds the PS2 in power.
The considerable lack of on-foot platforming as Crash. You only spend six levels (of 30) and two bosses (of five) playing entirely as the Crash platformer-mode we all know and love. The other 24 levels are all either played as Coco, or spend at least half (if not all) of them in a vehicle of some kind (this is in contrast to 15 levels (of 32) in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, and 18 (of 27) in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back). To worsen this, half the vehicles and gimmicks in this game aren't considered very fun or efficient:
The mech found in Droid Void and Crate Balls of Fire. Clunky, hard to maneuver and easy to get hit as, it likely would have been easier and more fun to play the majority of the level as Crash himself.
The sub in the swimming levels is slow, large and easy to get hit, its missiles actually fire even slower (so much you can outpace the downward bombs) and it has an annoying two step turning phase, meaning you can get stuck facing the screen and unable to fire. Even worse, unlike its faster counterpart in Warped, it is no longer a disposable extra hit, you must play the level with it and if its destroyed, you die as well. Oh and did we mention it counts wumpa fruit as a target?
Jeep in both levels it appears in, due to catastrophic handling that makes you miss boxes more often than not.
Similarly, Coco. Anything she can do, Crash can do better, and one of her levels is a Crash level made simpler so that Coco could do it. At times this can feel like a throwback to the older games which are harder due to their lack of bazooka and such.
IGN: Coco (is) a less powerful and less enjoyable playable character. Coco pops into specific levels and must be used to pass that area. She's just not fun the way Crash is. Crash is a silly creature to look at. He's almost absurd, which works great with his various animations. Coco isn't really silly at all. The game isn't called Crash and Coco, so why must I be forced to play her?
The ceiling grids in Droid Void, Weathering Heights, etcetera. They are so slow and irritating that the best way to do Weathering Heights' time trial is to actually give up invincibility in exchange for being able to run across the pit and skip the grids. This enables you to halve the Platinum time, and then some.
So Okay, It's Average: The general opinion of the game within the fan base. While still fairly enjoyable in many areas, it is for the large part, an inferior copy of Warped.
Uka Uka is surrounded by a red glow, as in previous titles, but at some points it becomes apparent that the "glow" is just a flat palette stuck to the back of Uka Uka's model. When Uka Uka faces away from the camera, we get a good view of the glow, and see that there's a hole in the glow effect.
In certain levels such as Gold Rush, you can actually see the empty void where the modelling for the areas end.
In the GameCube version of the game, the final cutscenes are filled with horrible glitches ranging from Aku-Aku's feathers lacking the proper masking, turning them into colorful squares to Crunch's lighting being JARRINGLY different to everything else in the scene.
Drain Damage will be probably first showstopper and first moment seeing your life count decrease to 0. It is fight against Crunch using attacks that can be hard to dodge while making your way to him through a path of platforms that sink. You have to hit him four times. Good luck.
Atmospheric Pressure. It is basically a clone of N. Gin fights from previous games, except with Air Elemental powered Crunch. Enough said.
The Elementals are fairly undeveloped characters (unless you read the manual) and according to Aku Aku, are too unruly and powerful for even Uka Uka to control. They spend the entire game as mere power ups for Crunch, their fate not even explained during the ending.
As mentioned above, Coco's debut as a fully playable counterpart to Crash. In Warped, she was more like an embellished extra vehicle, with her becoming fully playable like Crash in this game. The way she's presented in the manual and supplementary materials seems to imply that she's supposed to be be faster and more adept at combat than Crash while having weaker athletic ability, but in practice she just ends up being worse than Crash in literally every way. Not only does she lack a slide or crawl move (using a stationary sweep-kick instead), but she only gains access to two of the power-ups (the Crash Dash and Super Stomp). Which means that while Crash grows stronger and more variable as the game progresses, Coco's skill remains near completely static from when she starts. To add to this, Coco's pacing and jumping is stunted from Crash's.
There are three newly introduced Invisibility Crates. Two of them are in the same level even, and one of them is during X-ray section that has apparently the same effect.
Given the amount of vehicles in the game, it is not really a surprise that many of them are used only once, but Firefly with its unique locking mechanism really stands out, notably because it is not as annoying to use as some others.
Vindicated by History: The game was panned by many at the time due to simply reusing Warped's formula. However, since nearly every title in the series afterwards started to drift more and more away from the originals, these days, it gets more appreciation for being one of the few multi-console Crash games to stay loyal to the classic mechanics, especially since the previous titles remain Sony exclusive.