Stormy Ascent was a level in the first Crash game that originally got scrapped because it was ultimately considered too difficult. During a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Vicarious Visions revealed that the lost level would be available as a download via the PlayStation Store.
Image credit: Activision
Taylor Kurosaki said in a conversation with N. Sane Trilogy's director, Dan Tanguay, that he didn't have a good understanding of difficulty curves back when he first created Stormy Ascent. "As we prepared to deliver our Gold Master to Sony for manufacturing, the decision was made to cut it," Kurosaki said. "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. It was basically hidden, but it was there."
That's how players came to first discover the lost level, which could be reached via a handful of GameShark codes. The level is often compared to Slippery Slop, one that did make it into the final game and is known as a torturous slog that isn't helped much by the fact that there's only one checkpoint.
Even though players could access the hidden area on the PlayStation disc, it was riddled with bugs, including one that would crash the game if three Cortex Tokens were collected.
So why include the lost level now? You can thank the popularity of Dark Souls for that. "In 2017, games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are all the rage," Kurosaki said. "People like games that are difficult! We were so ahead of the curve!" And given how difficult the remaster has been, Stormy Ascent is likely to take the pain to new levels.
The level can now be downloaded and added to the base game, but strangely only for a limited time. A press release for the announcement specifically calls out a window of "the next 30 days" for people go and grab Stormy Ascent, after which time I guess it will go back to being a buggy death-fest locked behind GameShark magic.