Crash is back, not in the remake way though, it’s time for Crash Bandicoot 4 completely ignoring all his other questionable adventures! Does this game box off the original trilogy or does it Crash and burn?
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a painfully apt title, not only does the game feature a tale about time travel but it is for better or worse the sequel to Crash 3 people have been clamouring for all these years!.
Crash is busy minding his own business chilling out on his beach when N.Trophy with the help of Neo Cortex, N.Gin, and N.Brio manage to rip a hole in time. It’s down to Crash, his sister Coco and AkuAku to travel time, collect the Quantum Masks and sort everything out along the way.
Along the way you’ll meet some familiar friends and foes, Tanwa the damsel in distress from Crash 1 is back with 100% more ‘tude, so is fan favourite Dingodile, along with Neo Cortex these fill out your roster of playable characters for this game.
First thing you’ll notice from the intro is just how nice this game looks, everything is crisp and the colours pop throughout. The characters are all well animated and look like they fell out of a Saturday morning cartoon.
The art direction of not only the characters but the stages is varied in the best ways, some stages look like they fell out of Mad Max, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even a brilliantly vibrant New Orleans style parade celebrating past Activision alumni such as Spyro and Skylanders!.
The music is also draped in some mysterious nostalgia powder where the tracks are new but you could have sworn they were in previous titles, they are all great too so after you’ve died for the hundredth time you don’t really mind hearing them all too much!
The gameplay itself is classic Crash Bandicoot, all the jumping, spinning, crate smashing and gem collecting you remember from the original 3 is back and bigger than ever, so is the crushing difficulty that a lot of people forgot until the remake trilogy released, yeah that’s back too!.
In terms of difficulty Crash 4 approaches it in 2 ways, Modern and Retro as the screen calls them. Modern allows as many attempts as possible to get through the game and provides a shadow outline under Crash to make the tougher jumps. Retro on the other hand is exactly how you remember it, lives, and all. Neither changes the core of the game or the unlocks so it’s solely down to how the player chooses to play, no judgement here!.
The main changes to the gameplay lie in the new playable characters who all have their own gimmicks to separate them from Crash, Cortex is a little more puzzle focused, Tanwa has a grappling hook and a little more actiony and then Dingodile just steals all the attention playing like a more platform focused version of Luigi’s Mansion. Another key change in the gameplay is the Quantum Masks, these are integrated naturally into the levels and add another layer to Crash that sometimes doesn’t always work the best.
One of the mask’s powers involves phasing stuff in and out, this is done with the toggle of the button, it’s simple but effective, it can also completely mess with your groove at times as can some of the other masks, the Dark Matter one which spins you off into the air with limited movement presenting some of the more hair pullingly difficulty challenges later on.
Talking of challenges, each stage offers several bonus challenges that provide you with Gems to unlock skins for Crash and co, this can be from beating the game in a certain time, x amount of lives, all wumpa fruit collected, crates smashed, you get the drift. There are also Flashback levels that provide a bit of narrative lore for Crash and Cortex as well as truly testing your box smashing ability. Finally, you have the inverted mode which provides a fresh way of looking at the level, remixes them somewhat, and either invests or completely strips it of colour, until you spin that is, then it creates a Splatoon style effect which looks absolutely amazing and never gets old!.
All in all, Crash 4 is exactly what it says on the tin, it plays and looks exactly how you would want a classic Crash to play. It hasn’t had too much added to rock the boat and aside from my dislike of the new Mask abilities, I can’t really fault anything with the game. There is plenty of content for players to work through and the new option of having a shadow outline for jumps is brilliant for people who have struggled with Crash in the past. It’s great to see Crash Bandicoot back and showing everyone how you can make a good core 3D platformer without having to rely on “Collect-a-thons”, an essential purchase for anyone who fancies a really good 3D platformer.
A return to form for everyone’s favourite Bandicoot! Aside from a few duff powers this is all Killer!