I have a bit of a love hate relationship when it comes to the Orange Marsupial, it’s not a complicated Love Hate relationship really – Essentially I love everything that was released before the year 2000 and hate everything after this point.
I understand there was a market for the changes but, much like Banjo Kazooie’s Nuts & Bolts, I simply was no longer in that market and felt shunted to one side by everything that released this side of the millennium… This was until the Remakes of the Original Trilogy of Crash Bandicoot games was released by Vicarious Visions & Toys For Bob and I was able to rekindle all my love for the little orange fella and when Crash Bandicoot 4 was announced and it was revealed to be done by the same people who handled the remakes – I was happy to see it and somewhat… Hopeful it might be good!
Thus drops the trailer and it seems that Toys For Bob really know how to handle the franchise and deliver on everything that the fans wanted to see from a direct sequel to the franchise – which essentially is: more of the same.
It wouldn’t be totally fair if I was to say that Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was just more of the same Crash Bandicoot we have loved for the last 20 years as Toys For Bob definitely apply some funky new mechanics and quality of life improvements to the franchise.
Firstly, Crash and Coco are now equipped with a landing circle which appears, well, where the character is going to land. This addition does wonders for the game and allows me to realise that every time Crash or Coco fell to their inevitable demise, it wasn’t because the Crash didn’t land where he was supposed to – I just suck at platforming games.
Another neat little addition in Crash Bandicoot 4 are the Quantum Masks which are each equipped with a different ability that changes up the levels in really interesting ways. These abilities range from Lani-Loli’s phase ability which allows Crash and Coco to phase obstacles in and ot of existence right through to Ika-Ikas mask of Gravity which allows you to flip which side of the level you happen to be on. These masks add an additional layer of thought to the platforming levels and forces you to think and react above the simple “Jump here and avoid this” mechanic.
In Crash 4
you are tasked with stopping basically every villain that the Bandicoot’s have
ever beaten in a range of different timelines,
through time in order to stop them. If this sounds basically the same as the
plot of Crash Bandicoot 3- that’s because it is. It’s essentially the same plot
but with more interesting levels and mechanics thrown into the mix.
THE BEST thing however, is that there are a range of “alternate” timeline levels that allow players to experience the levels as a few of the franchises most notorious villains (or just another character) including Cortex, Dingodile or Crash’s Ex boo – Tawna Bandicoot.
These levels, again, add a whole new layer to the gameplay and allow the game to feel fresh and new at every turn.
The 3 additional characters each have their own perks that once again change up the entire formula and turn things (sometimes literally) on their head and provide arguably the most fun sections of the entire franchise – I cannot understate how much fun I had with these sections of the game.
Then there are “retro levels” which you have to unlock by finding hidden video tapes in a handful of the levels – these optional levels provide insane challenges from way back when Cortex was training the bandicoots in order to take over the world and gives the game some plot that I didn’t know I wanted until I had it and realised how much I wanted to know about the characters.
Overall, I genuinely cannot fault Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Whilst the majority of the game is just more of the same Crash Bandicoot – this is all I wanted from the franchise. The addition of the new mechanics and various Quality of life improvements stand to just enhance the game and in my honest opinion make it better than the remakes of the originals that came before it.
With that in mind, I cannot give Crash Bandicoot 4 anything other than a
Toys for Bob really focused in on what makes Crash fun and delivered on it in every aspect. I have dropped a point here due to the overall premise being recycled from Crash 3 but this is such a minor thing that I can easily say that Crash Bandicoot 4 is as close to platforming perfection as we are ever going to get.