It's really cool - the graphics are outstanding (but, for the most part, they always HAVE been, even on the old PS1) and for Coco fans, it's nice to be able to do more than walk in a straight line and jump with her character.
There are a number of worlds - for most, getting the purple crystal is easy.. I finished about 15 of them in the first 6 hours I played. The "bonus" areas (where you go for boxes and extra lives) have gotten way harder.. which is nice. Takes a bit of strategy and timing, whereas with the older games it was just an easy way to get extra lives. Depends on how you look at it, I guess, but I see this as an improvement.
Haven't started doing any of the time trials, but I can only imagine they're going to be tougher than previous Crash games.
As for variations between Naughty Dog and the new developer? If there hadn't been such a big deal about the changing of companies, I never would have known any different. This Crash looks exactly like the older ones, but with better graphics (save for the intro movie scene..)
If you love Crash, get it!
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You can complete specific levels of the game to play as Crash's fiery sister. Coco will have a wide variety of moves and animations tailored to fit her personality. New free-roam sections will be implemented within certain levels of the game. These sections feature puzzles and hidden areas never before seen in a Crash game. New bosses and minibosses offer up a Noah's Ark-sized list of new creatures. The game also has an all-new graphics engine that brings vivid life to environments and characters like never before.