If you’re a 90’s kid you have certainly had an encounter with the Crash Bandicoot games; no, I don’t mean whatever the f*** came out after 2001, but rather the OG Naughty Dog produced Crash trilogy (though to be fair I did think 2001’s Wrath of Cortex was a fine installment).
Well, after twenty-two years Toys for Bob and Activision have taken up the task of trying to revive the franchise with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. The game picks up right after the events of 1998’s Crash Bandicoot:Warped and eliminates Wrath of Cortex, and all those weak games afterwards, from the continuity.
We’re a TV and Film podcast but this is 90’s iconography; respect must be paid.
1: Perfect Fit with Three Predecessors: A big concern with a game revival after all this time is that despite best efforts to have it fit with the previous installments it never comes off quite as natural. Crash 4 seems to be an exception to the rule!
This game not only fits in narratively but the gameplay is everything you remember from back in the day or that you grew to love from the updated 2017 N.Sane Trilogy.
2: Gameplay is a Throwback but not Tired: Yes, the gameplay is everything you remember but it isn’t stagnant. The developers knew they had the challenge on their hands of trying to revive something iconic by giving it new life while also making sure they didn’t lose why it was a big deal in the first place.
The game adds small details that make it equally as enjoyable such as pole sliding, character selection, unlocking skins, different level experience, and different gameplay modes (more on this below).
3: Game Design: If you think you liked the designs from the original games just WAIT until you see some of the levels in this thing. In the middle of dying 10000 times I found my jaw dropped at just how gorgeous some of these visuals are. You’re getting ice age, dinosaurs, vibrant New Orleons, space travel, other worlds, pirate ships, futuristic cities and more. The game is truly beautiful and a big tell for one of the installments greatest facts…
4: A Love Letter: Crash 4 is nothing less than a love letter to the OG trilogy. You see it in the design, gameplay, and character investment but you also see it in a new co-player option. We all remember playing this game back in the day with our friends taking turns after each death. Crash 4 allows you and your friends to systematically track each of your performances during your turns at a level so even while on 1-player mode it’s a group experience; such a detail shows these creators didn’t just want to make a good game, but they have their own memories with the franchise as well.
4:Quantum Masks: It wouldn’t be Crash Bandicoot without masks! Though Aku Aku is still your safety throughout the levels you are also gifted(?) with the presence of four new allies:
Lani-Loli, the phase mask- This mask allows Crash and Coco to switch objects in your path in and out of reality. The mask powers, along with the suits you wear while they are in use, are cool but make no mistake- these masks are here to make the game tough. Wearing Lani-Loli while having to time phases in a speedy part of the level will get you from two deaths to forty-five (yes that’s the number) in the blink of an eye.
‘Akano, the dark matter mask- It says dark matter but a more accurate description is it turns you into one of those fairy spinner toys from the 90s. It’s still a great time! It’s also one of the easiest mask challenges to maneuver. You can use him to glide in the air towards platforms, deflect certain attacks, and spin through steel encased wooden crates.
Kupuna Wa, the time mask- What the F***, man… This mask allows you to (VERY BRIEFLY) slow down time around you. This helps you jump across fast moving platforms and even run across nitro crates. I would say Kapuna Wa requires the most finesse and attention to her use. If you’re off even a milisecond from the moment you activated her it’s lights out. Another mask you should get ready for your death count to shoot through the roof.
Ika Ika, the gravity mask- This is the mask that brought me to the conclusion that this game doesn’t care about me; it’s here to break me in the funniest way possible. Ika Ika allows you to manipulate gravity so you can run upside down. Yes, this take getting used to and at times requires you to switch gravity in the most awkward of circumstances.
1:Holy S*** This is Hard: All that being said you should have caught on to this by now; this game is extremly difficult. My thumbs hurt, guys.
The game offers two modes of play- retro (life-based we all remember and if you hit zero you lose your level progress) or modern (which has no life count but does continue to monitor your deaths and progress in collecting the available gems in any given level).
Of course I tried to play the retro version but by the first boss I realized I am too basic to have any chance of beating this thing in that mode. Even while on modern mode I have reached a record sixty deaths in a single level before reaching its end.
If you though the original games were difficult you have no idea how tough this one is.
I rank this is a negative because I understand this will be a frustrating component for many gamers. At the same time I think it’s why the creators gave two modes of play where you could attempt the traditional method or have a laugh at just how bad you are at trying to figure this damn thing out.
Guys, Crash Bandicoot 4:It’s About Time is more than a worthy installment in the franchise. Reviews seem overwhelmingly positive and now it’s just a question of how well does the game sell to determine if more could be down the road.
I give the game a solid 8 out of ten potatoes.