Crash Bandicoot goes to the core of my passion for gaming.
The first home console we owned in my house was a PS1 after my sister and I nagged our parents after playing Crash Bandicoot on a cousins PlayStation, so getting that in our house with a copy of Crash was nothing but glory. Since then my love of gaming has grown, but Crash is still king in my heart.
Toys For Bob recently remade the original games as the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy which was glorious. The game looked and played as well as I remembered it being, which is a feat given nostalgia tends to lead us to remember games looking and feeling much better than when you actually try them again. So given they were the ones tasked to make the new Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, there was potential for something to be great.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time kicks off with Neo Cortex and N. Tropy escaping their prison thanks to Uka Uka finally getting his magic right and they go on one of their usual paths of destruction. Crash teams up with Coco to find the four Quantum masks to save the world again from Cortex and his mischief. Collecting these masks though doesn’t stop the baddies alone, but actually powers the team up such as being able to move objects in and out of reality.
Now this is where I want to be careful. Playing this game with minimal information is best. I could spoil all the powers, or the characters, but intentionally going in blind I found these reveals to be a treat so will do the same here for you. There are more throwback characters and other mask powers, and they are awesome, so I will leave that there.
The gameplay in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is excellent. The platforming feels even better than it did in the N. Sane Trilogy and by all means feels like a platformer built for 2020. The world design keeps the classic Crash “2D platformer in a 3D world” style which is actually good. It adds a point of difference to the game over most platformers.
The best thing about the game is the aesthetics. Crash always had a cartoony silliness, but Toys For Bob have grabbed this and run with it using newer more powerful tech. The world has those odd shapes that I associate with classic Saturday morning cartoons but with the smooth 3D animation of a high budget CGI movie. Added to this is the bizarre deaths. Whether it is a little scrapper that catches you and a cloud of cartoon fighting smoke appears, or a dude with a hammer whacking Crash’s toes before slamming him to the ground, or a poison vial having the character do an overly acted poison death. The game oozes with cute and silly cartoon fun.
Then there is the difficulty. The game looks like a game that would be for three year olds, but has the difficulty of a game to make the most grown up of us cry. Levels get hard, and I mean haaaaaard. At least with the N. Sane Trilogy you can remember what you used to do, so not much was surprising. With only new levels this isn’t an option so you need to learn as you go here and you will die, a lot.
Fortunately the game has decided to let you know how much you want to hate life. You can play the game in a classic mode where you have x number of lives, and have to get through the levels without losing them, or you can play in a modern mode. This counts up the number of times you die and doesn’t punish you for a high tally. It’s depressing to see those numbers go up, but not as depressing as starting the level from the start for a 50th time. If you die between checkpoints enough the game even sneaks some extra ones in for you.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a brutal relentless game in the shell of a kid friendly exterior. In that way it is the perfect sequel to the series, and well worth your time. Also getting to play as a character like Coco gives the whole experience a little lift that makes it the platformer to play in 2020, or if you want to write 2020 off then 2021.
Released: October 2020
Platforms: Xbox One
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Toys for Bob