Worth the Wait!
It’s been around 20 years since we last had a proper Crash Bandicoot game. I remember playing the first three games so much when I was a child back in the late 90s (I now feel old!) and absolutely loved them. We’ve all called for Activision to make a proper Crash Bandicoot game again, especially after the success of the remastered trilogy which I still play on my Nintendo Switch. Well, our voices were heard and Activision, along with re-known platformer king Toys for Bob, has come along with the appropriate title of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Yes, it’s been a long time but it really was worth the wait.
Crash Bandicoot 4 is all about nostalgia; don’t come in expecting a raft of new changes, this is about capturing the essence of what made us love the original games. We’ve all seen what happens when too much is tried with games of the past; you only have to look at Sonic for example. This is where Toys for Bob get the right balance. This is a game that not only welcomes back Crash Bandicoot veterans like myself but will also bring in a raft of newcomers to the series. I’m glad that they’ve stuck to the same winning formulae that give the series so much success. I’ll use the term ‘if it’s not broke, why fix it? here as I feel that’s quite appropate.
Crash Bandicoot has always been been about keeping the story simple. It’s Good vs Evil, Crash and Coco vs the evil Neo Cortex. This game is set after Warped (don’t worry at all if you’ve not played any of the previous crash games although I do strongly recommend you pick the remastered trilogy up!) and Neo Cortex and co are set to rule all the dimensions. Whilst other games you only got to play as Coco for limited levels, you can now pick to play as her throughout the whole game. I felt that was a nice little addition, and it’s something that I’m doing a second time round in my next playthrough.
You need to save the 4 powerful Quantum masks in order to restore normality to the world. These masks will help you in your journey, giving Crash/Coco new powers along the way. These include the ability to slow down time, spin for an unlimited amount of time (with the ability to glide), change dimensions in the level so that hidden crates and walkways become possible and also the ability to change gravity. All these are used throughout the game, so you’ll soon get used to each and every one of them as you go through. There are some levels that you’ll need to use more than one mask to get through but this isn’t something you’ll need to do manually, the mask will appear when you get to that stage.
Visually, the game looks fantastic on the PlayStation 4. You can really see the step in visuals as you enter each new world. What I liked also is you can also unlock skins for your character along the way, with one of them being classic Crash. Whilst the game looks fantastic, you can switch it up and play as Crash looked back in the 90s!. Sound wise, that soundtrack we all loved is back. The voice acting for me felt a little off but I can forgive that due to the nature of the game.
One thing Crash Bandicoot has always been and that is difficult and it’s no change here in Crash 4. Toys for Bob have been quite clever here and added 2 ways for you to play the game. Modern and Retro. If you switch to modern, you can have unlimited lives, and when you die you’ll always go back to the checkpoint that you most recently was at. I’ll admit, I had modern on for the most part. It does tell you how many times you died throughout a level though, and when 40+ was coming up in the top right-hand corner for a number of levels, my frustration and rage levels were climbing just like they were years ago! Then we have Retro mode. This is how we played it all those years ago, you have a number of lives, collect wumpa fruit to build your lives but the moment they go, you’ll have to start the level again. I was using retro for a while but for review purposes, I thought it was best to have unlimited lives…… (OK, that might be a slight lie!).
There are also a few levels where you take control of Tawna and Dingodile, as well as a couple with Neo Cortex himself. These characters all have their own special abilities, and the levels are set out that make use of them abilities. The main story in the game took me around 8 hours to complete. It seems quite short, but there is much more longevity to the game than just completing it. Collecting all the gems, whilst also completing the bonuses, flashback tapes and even more side missions for the other characters means there is plenty on offer here to keep you busy for a long time.
There were a couple of minor bugs that I found within the game, there was a time where I fell off the edge but I didn’t die, instead, the camera just panned to the sky, there was nothing I could do about it apart from restart the whole level again. I do expect this to be ironed out in a future patch and it only happened to me once and twice within the 10+ hours I’ve spent with the game so far.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Activision