Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s about time is the long-awaited sequel to the classic trilogy, a platformer developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision. Crash Bandicoot has made a phenomenal return to form in his classic story and looks, bringing along all the best bits of the originals with heaps of new flavour. Let’s spin straight into the Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s about time Revisit!
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s about time starts up immediately where the end of the original third game ends, with Cortex and N Tropy stuck in the past, but grown-up back to their original ages, give or take I guess. N. Tropy is trying to use Uka-Uka to open a rift back to their time, and somehow succeeds. Uka-Uka is surprisingly left behind as both Cortex and Tropy step through, and they seek out the quantum masks to try and control all of time and space.
The story is, for a crash game, very well done. It brings back a whole host of characters from the series, keeping their unique personalities and aesthetics with more than enough throwbacks to obscure trivia to satiate any hardcore fans’ nostalgia. At a certain point in the game, Cortex remarks how he ‘should have gone with the Wombat’, a reference to crash’s prototype character name during the development of the first game, and it’s little bits like this that show you how much love for the series toys for bob truly have.
A generous helping of comedy against the surprisingly darker moments in the writing keeps everything light and feels like a faithfully thematic crash game, with fleshed-out characters through the ‘alternate timeline’ levels bringing everyone to life. You combine all of these features and you’ve got a focused narrative with properly introduced characters that match its zany but driven gameplay.
The thing you’ve probably heard most about Crash 4 is how hard it can be. Sure, for completionists and masochists like myself the platinum relics and n.sanity relics can be damn difficult to acquire. But to the average person who just wants to enjoy a platformer, it’s definitely more fun than tedium.
The main gameplay from Crash/Coco is phenomenally done. It feels truly authentic to the original gameplay, with all returning mechanics just feeling correct (and a few gone entirely like vehicles or underwater levels, which were gimmicks at best), as well as every newly added mechanic feeling fleshed out, requiring skill and knowledge to get all the boxes in a clean run. The rail grinds could easily have become tedious boring sections and I’ll admit were a risk, but the way you jump, slide under, lean left and right to get boxes, it’s little touches that flesh out those sections into being fun. Combine it with the constant forward momentum meaning no do-overs less you deliberately lose a life to go back to a checkpoint, a potentially mind-numbing mechanic demands conscious decision making and quick reactions, something the original crash has always been about in its gameplay.
The main gameplay additions are in two forms; Firstly, the new quantum masks which give you superpowers to overcome otherwise impossible tasks, like quantum manipulation to phase platforms in/out of reality, or dark matter spin to glide effortlessly like a turbocharged helicopter over massive chasms. These abilities could have easily made the game too easy or gimmicky but the necessary challenges presented with their use test your mastery of them, making you feel accomplished and smart as you work out how you use them for that next section.
The other addition is new playable characters with entirely new movesets, like Tawna’s grappling hook, Dingodiles vacuum cannon and Cortex’s ‘modified’ ray gun. These sections aren’t as fun as the Crash/Coco gameplay but still require full knowledge of how the new characters work to clear a level flawlessly, and therefore carry the spirit of the game with them.
Combine all this with the flashback tapes which are essentially suped-up bonus levels, and the n-verted levels that present even more unique challenges, the gameplay of crash has never felt more faithful yet fresh. It’s incredible to see the true essence of such an old game series come back to life and it’s a phenomenal achievement.
Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s about time is a beautiful game with oodles of imagination poured into it, but again largely preserving the aesthetics of the original 3, with some CTR references for good measure. The art style is vivid, with tons of colour and cartoony aesthetics plastered all over distinct and creative levels designs, and each ‘world’ is essentially a direct reference to previous aesthetics from the original trilogy.
One level that stood out as not feeling crash-Esque was the Mardi Gras level with the street party, but out of roughly 38 levels, one misfire is a damn good success rate to nail the feel of the game. The game contains a ton of unlockable skins for both Crash and Coco, each one unique and relevant to the level it was earned from. Everything feels like a labour of love.
One noteworthy aspect is the n-verted levels and the design decisions taken; each hub world has an artistic filter applied to the n-verted levels within it. The first two levels have an echo-location filter that means you’ll need to spin to see where you’re going, the next an edge define filter-making everything somehow more vibrant and defined than it already was. Toys for Bob didn’t have to do this. But they did, and it shows a love for the game that we didn’t even know we needed. Even the flashback tape sections have a VHS tracking filter applied over the gameplay to make you feel like you’re back in the last Millenium.
Firstly, the voice acting and sound effects are great, but there are some standouts. The voice acting for Cortex never misses a beat, with Lex Lang delivering all of Cortex’s lines with a perfect blend of arrogance, cowardice and malice. Also of note was Cherise Boothe, the voice of Kupuna-Wa, making me immediately fall in love with the character with a natural charisma no other character had. No one involved put in a half-hearted performance, but the true beauty was the soundtrack.
I avoided this game for a while because the trailer put some generic track over the top of the gameplay and I immediately lost interest. Petty yes, but it’s the truth. The first time I booted up the game and heard the music though I was straight back into the vibes of the originals, and that feeling never left me. Every new track is perfectly crafted into the level, with older tracks making their appearance known every now and then. A real stroke of genius was putting the soundtrack from the original games into the flashback levels, giving a healthy dose of nostalgia each time you play one.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s about time PS4 Revisit – Verdict
I love this game with all my heart, and I went in so incredibly sceptical that it would capture the old feelings. The advertising felt like too much had changed from the originals, and that’s what I really wanted without realizing it at the time. I’m glad to say my scepticism was incredibly misplaced, and I have devoured every second of gameplay I had with this game. This game may be difficult at times if your want to get the most out of it, and that can become tedious. But if that doesn’t bother you, the crash bandicoot franchise has been restored to its status as a legendary platformer and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough for fans of the original games.
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