Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Developer: Toys For Bob
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 02/10/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Crash is back. Like seriously back. No remasters on show here, just an original story riding the tailcoat of success that the N Sane trilogy & CTR has brought to the current gen platforms over the last couple of years.
Crash Bandicoot is a name synonymous with the founding of the PlayStation. He has long been the official mascot of Sony’s iconic brand. His journey to 2020 however, has been something of a bumpy ride following a winding path of hit after hit after hit after…. miss.
Erase The Past
Much like The Terminator franchise (yes, I’m comparing this marsupial to James Cameron’s T-800 murderous machines, bare with me) the first couple of productions were incredible. In fact arguably I’d give the first three Crash games helmed by Naughty Dog that honour, Terminator, I will not.
Past that point, running parallel to these dregs of cinema (Terminator Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys) we also saw the dregs of the gaming world. Crash Bandicoot spin-offs such as Crash Boom Bang, banished Spyro cross-overs, and Crash of the Titans (with the weird arm tattoos).
Just like Terminator: Dark Fate arose from the ashes of sequel failings in 2019, pretending everything other than the first two films were just figments of your imagination. The team over at Toys For Bob have done exactly the same with the arrival of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Yes, this is the 4th game, apparently.
With a total erasure of the timeline between 1998 and 2020 Crash 4 picks up right where we left off. This time however you have 22 years of generational improvements and boy they’ve made the most of that time.
Take Your Time
The game opens as we return to Neo Cortex, N Tropy and Uka Uka, who were imprisoned in the past. As Cortex and N Tropy go back and forth blaming each other for the events that have happened, Uka Uka’s powers manage to rip a hole in the fabric of time and space. Our two grand super villains both escape into this time portal and our story unfurls. Crash accompanied by his sister Coco and a few brand new additions along the way set on an adventure to foil these antagonists and restore balance to the universe.
The dialogue here is the gold standard, and feels like a Saturday morning of cartoons from my childhood. Every single voice actor attached throughout sounds like they’ve been ripped directly from Pinky and the Brain. Each cut scene turns up the dial on humour throughout the game. There are some scathing self deprecating results, it’s a game that harkens back to its roots at every turn.
Respect Your Elders
In fact, this is evident right down to the opening moments, with Crash awakening on a beach. We see a Spyro the Dragon inflatable bobbling in the water, and the original opening screen from the original Crash Bandicoot flickering on the TV. The game is full to the brim with these little Easter eggs and you can sense so much care and detail has gone into every step of the design process.
In the more traditional Crash Bandicoot sense, you move ‘island to island’ just via time portals on this journey. With each step introducing new playable characters including Dingodile, Neo Cortex, Coco and new addition Tawna (an alternate dimensional version of Crash’s Girlfriend). There’s so much variety on offer. Each character brings their own style, with Dingodile’s Luigi’s Mansion like vacuum sucker, or Cortex’s ray-gun right down to Tawna’s grappling hook. This challenges the player to think differently around how to complete each level and how to nurture and take advantage of all the skills on offer.
If that wasn’t enough there are a wide variety of masks this time around to capture. Ones that reverse gravity, slow down time, give you a tornado like super spin and even run up walls. All of this sounds complicated but the execution is flawless, once you’ve settled into the controls it feels like these enhancements have always been there. There’s also the addition of the drop shadow, so you now know where you are going to land on each platform (this can be toggled off for the die hard fans out there).
Graphically the art style is just as colourful and vibrant as you’d expect, this game is a stunner. Wonderful character design, epically complex level design that is mind boggling in its execution and a difficulty threshold very cleverly constructed.
The construction on the surface is simple. Work your way through the level, collect all of the boxes, find the hidden gem, collect all the wumpa fruit and then painfully realise you missed one box and weigh up whether to dive back in again. Not much has changed then. The reward balance is great too, as platinum completion on each level helps you to unlock new skins…. for free! Yes like DLC…. but free.
Hard But Fair
This game is in parts, really tough, and it was probably about the half way mark I decided to stop worrying about capturing everything for every level and just settle in and enjoy it. The platinum chasing feels like a post-game strategy for this one. Yet the game is intelligent enough to throw you a bone when you’re on the verge of throwing your controller at the screen, like injecting an additional checkpoint dynamically. This brings you closer in the timeline to the point at which you are getting stuck, narrowing the frustration. Eventually you’ll get through it, and the satisfaction is euphoric.
Turning Back The Clocks
The game will take between 10-12 hours or so to complete. Perhaps more if you spend 2+ hours like I did on that one super tricky level on the final island. Past those credits there are so many things to go back and do. Each character along the way has a story thread and levels of their own to complete, plus some cool game modes like inversion. There’s easily 20+ hours of content on offer here, and every single step is a pure delight.
Crash Bandicoot 4 is about connecting the dots back to the original trilogy. It respects the originals for the masterpieces they were back in the late 90s yet presents a game that is in every way superior.
Visually triumphant, audibly spectacular and sidesplittingly funny, it’s game of the year material for me and a must have!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from the following link: https://store.playstation.com/
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.