If I’m being completely honest, part of me genuinely believed that older platformer game series like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro didn’t really have a place in our modern video game space. It’s not that I dislike these games, quite the opposite actually, I really enjoyed my time with them when I was younger. It’s just that we haven’t seen games with their particular brand of gameplay and design in a long time, and I wasn’t sure we would ever get newer games like them in this day and age.
Then both the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy were released, and I was reminded of why I loved these games as a kid, while still not really sold on the possibility of ever getting a new entry in either of these series apart from remakes and remasters.
Then the Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time reveal trailer a few months back proved me wrong on that front, and my god have I never been more glad to eat my words.
Developer Toys for Bob has built on the foundations of the first Crash games and delivered a sequel that might just surpass all of them. Crash Bandicoot 4 is a fantastic game that not only retains the magic of the original games, but also improves on them substantially.
Visually the game looks bright and colorful, and the artstyle for this new entry has been significantly updated for the current generation. Don’t worry though, because the aesthetics and personality that have come to define Crash Bandicoot are still here. This game feels both like a blast from the past, and a new thing in of itself.
Gameplay wise, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is extremely difficult, with an emphasis on challenge that makes it clear that this game was clearly meant to appeal to veterans of the franchise.
The same control scheme for Crash that was present in the older games is also present here, and the character virtually behaves exactly as he did back then. The level design however is much more devious and challenging, and will have you sweating buckets as you go deeper and deeper into the levels.
The life system is the same here as well, where if players loose all of their lives they go back to the beginning of a level. The game does however make a few concessions for players who maybe don’t like their games to be so punishing by adding the option to switch to a ‘Modern’ playstyle, which eliminates the need for lives and instead sends players back to the nearest checkpoint upon death as many times as they want.
Also new to the game is the small circular indicator that appears below characters as they jump. This might not seem like a big addition, but it is a massive improvement that allows players to see where they will land while jumping, and allows them to correctly position themselves in the air and avoid some of the more unfortunate accidents that were so common in previous games.
Of course both of these two new additions are completely optional, and I have a feeling that a lot of traditionalists will probably make do without them.
Also new to Crash Bandicoot 4 are the Quantum Masks. These are named Lani-Loli, Akano, Kupuna-Wa and Ika-Ika, and when equipped, they each provide Crash with unique abilities that massively switch up the gameplay in different levels.
Lani-Loli allows players to phase different obstacles and items in the levels in and out of existence, and it is used in encounters where quick timing is key. Akano allows players to spin in the air and glide large distances from platform to platform.
Similarly, Kupuna-Wa alows players to slow down time and jump on really fast moving platforms. And finally Ika-Ika gives players the ability to reverse gravity and walk on ceilings.
Each of these masks are used to brilliant effect in Crash Bandicoot 4, and they add a whole new dimension to the otherwise tried and tested platforming. In many ways, I genuinely feel that the addition of these abilities were necessary in this game, because without them what we would have had was just another Crash game utilizing the exact same formula as the games of the past.
Another feature that adds a lot of variety to Crash Bandicoot 4 is the ability to also play as four other characters in the game apart from Crash himself. The first of these is Crash’s sister Coco, and she basically controls the same as her brother, but the other three characters, Tawna, Doctor Neo Cortex and Dingodile actually play very differently.
Tawna has access to an actual melee combat attack, the ability to wall jump and most importantly a grappling hook that she can use to pull herself towards surfaces. Neo Cortex has access to a mid-air dash, and a gun that can turn enemies into either a solid or bouncing platform. And finally Dingodile can make use of a vacuum-like gun to pick up and launch boxes and TNT into obstacles and hover in the air for a little while.
All of these additions come together to create a constantly entertaining and evolving experience that unfolds over the course of ten uniquely themed worlds. These are all visually distinct from each other, but they each also introduce unique gameplay mechanics that keep the pressure on at all times.
The main levels are fantastic in my opinion, but the game also throws in a lot of different optional content to keep players coming back after that as well.
There are N. Verted levels that are basically mirrors of standard levels in the game with a unique art style, hidden Flashback levels that have to be unlocked by collecting Flashback Tapes in normal levels without drying, time trails to complete and Gems and trophies to collect among so much more.
It will take you a long time to see and do everything available in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, and It’s a good thing that the game feels and plays so amazingly.
In conclusion, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is the best entry in the Crash franchise, and I’m willing to fight anyone who says otherwise. It’s visuals are gorgeous, the gameplay is still as entertaining as ever and there’s just so much content packed in it.
This game obviously appeals to me as someone who used to religiously played the older Crash games, but it will also expose a new generation of gamers to the challenging and addicting platforming that it has to offer.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is out now on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It was developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review code was provided by the publisher.
Crash Bandicoot 4 Review
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is the best entry in the Crash franchise to date, and a fantastic return to form for everyone’s favorite bipedal Bandicoot.