After the release of Crash: Mind Over Mutant back in 2008, if you told me Crash Bandicoot would one day come back, I would call you a wishful thinker. However, after the first 3 games and Crash Team Racing got the remake treatment, the series got a new entry in the form of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. After a few weeks of hair pulling and a smile on my face, I have completed a playthrough of the game and figure I would share my thoughts on the game. Let’s start with the basics.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Times takes place right after the events Crash Bandicoot 3: Warp’d, where Cortext and N. Tropy were sent to the past with Uka Uka. Cortext and N. Tropy with the help of Uka Uka made their back from the past and are planning to rule all of time and space and you goal is to find the 4 Quantum Mask and stop them. So, it’s a typical Crash game of stop bad guys from doing bad things. Now with this being called Crash 4 does this invalidate the other Crash games? No, all the other games are still cannon thanks to the whole multiple time line/dimensions rule which is nice cause there are a few easter eggs hidden referencing other games through out. Presentation wise there is a major difference between N. Sane Trilogy and Crash 4, mainly due Toys for Bob taking the lead on this game instead of Vicarious Visions and over all I do like the presentation. The more colorful and cartoonish looking style still fits the Crash Bandicoot world and the level themselves are beautiful to look at and feel unique. The characters personality is definitely allowed to shine more as we got character interactions rather than just being talked at by the villains. I really like the presentation of the game and kind of hope that this is the style going forward. Now how does it play?
Crash 4 plays just like a Crash Bandicoot game. You will be jumping, spinning and platforming your way through levels. Crash and Coco control pretty much the same as though you do start with double jump right off the bat and I feel like it allows you to jump higher than before and it gives you descent air time between jumps. A few changes from the formula is there are no power ups that you earn through out the game but instead will be using a different Quantum Mask. The mask powers include: slowing down time, dimension shift (making things visible and invisible), becoming a super tornado and anti-gravity and each do with a bit of a learning curve. The super tornado and antigravity especially as both are used the most to transverse areas, where the dimension shift and slowing down time are more used for puzzle solving. Difficulty wise, I feel like Toys for Bob bumped up the difficulty level. First, multiple levels feel super long and with some crazy bonus levels you better have a lot of patience for platforming. Another addition to the game is 3 other playable characters; Tawna, Dingodile and Neo Cortext. Now the characters only have a couple of levels where you solely play as them. Any other time you play as them is you play a different section of the same level and then finish the level as Crash and Coco through a alter and some times more difficult level. Most their levels are required to play through the game but are need if you are trying to 100%, which…oof can be a nightmare.
Now I usually don’t 100% games and this one doesn’t help with that. Each level, minus boss levels, have 6 gems to collect; you can collect three of them by collect 80% of the Wumpa fruit in the level, one for breaking all the boxes, one for complete the level with 3 or less deaths AND finding the hidden gem. However, that is not all, each level also has a N. Verted version of the level. This flips the level and adds a unique filter, like color is restored to the level as you break boxes or a comic book filter. The N. Verted version of the level also has 6 gems for you to collect, making each level of the game have 12 gems to collect. Luckily these don’t have to be collect in one run and you do unlock skins for Crash and Coco so at least the hair pulling is not for nothing. So, on top of gems, there are also Rewind tapes to collect, which are collect by reaching a point in certain levels without dying. The tapes unlock a level that takes place way back before the first Crash Bandicoot game where Cortext was putting Crash and Coco through test to see how they will perform. You got gems, tapes, skins, and of course Time Relics to collect in the game. Now I haven’t tried a Time Trial as you don’t get the traditional sprint power up after the final level but you do get a triple spin and does give you a bit of a speed boost. During my playthrough I had a bit of a love hate relationship with the game. I was also excited to play more of the game but usually at the end of my session had to step away cause of the challenges I had with some of the levels. Overall, there is a lot about this game that a liked and would like to see move forward, but there are a few things I do wish were better.
The first thing that comes to mind is the camera. Some of the levels have hidden boxes and some were just a bit of screen that if you didn’t notice it while you were going through the level, you will miss it. It would have been nice to have a bit more camera so look at the level and find even a hint where the boxes are. The other thing I would improve is Tawna and Cortext controls, mainly due to their weapons. Now Dingodile did have a vacuum cannon but I felt like it handle pretty well. With Tawna’s grabbling hook and Cortext’s ray gun, an aim mode would of help a bit as with both there were times, I was trying to hit something and would complete miss. Tawna is where this would be the biggest help as there were sections of rail grinding and there would be boxes right off to the side that I reach with them without having to make sure I responded to the button press in time. The last thing I found annoying about the game, is to be honest something that has been an issue with the series, the Aku Aku mask. Now the Aku Aku mask protects you from 1 hit and you are able to collect up to three of them where the third mask will active an Invisibility mode. In most case this would be useful, however, in the Crash Bandicoot series there are a lot of instant kills, like bottomless pits and bodies, that even with the mask will kill you. Even with the game adding more check points the more you die and giving you free Aku Aku mask after responding it doesn’t help if the part you are having issues is an instant kill. It would be a bit better if the Aku Aku mask acted a like the lucky horseshoes from the Sly Cooper game and would just reset you without causing you a life, which as one of the gems you need to collect is finishing the level under 3 deaths. This last one is definitely a personal issue but it would stop the last of hair and broken controls.
Lastly, what do I want to see from the series going forward? First thing is Toys for Bob make another Crash Bandicoot game, I feel like the did a great job making a Crash Bandicoot game with their own style and flair. Next, more time with playable characters. It was nice to play with Tawna, Dingodile and Cortext each with their own play style and it would be nice to see Coco in the next level have her own play style as well and not just copy of Crash. Overall, I do recommend this game if you are a fan of the series and these types of games and hopefully this game does well enough for continue the series going forward. That’s it for this post, thank you so much for reading and remember; Be Kind, Stay Safe and Game On!