I mean, it’s only been 22 years. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is bringing back the retro platformer action that traumatised your childhood. For those following the plot, this is a sequel to Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped from 1998. Series regular villain N. Tropy has escaped time prison and created a bunch of interdimensional rifts. Crash must collect four Quantum Masks in order to seal them all back up and save the world. Now go gather all the Wumpa Fruit like a good bandicoot, because there are skins to unlock now.
Each Quantum Mask gives Crash (or his sister Coco if that’s your vibe) four new abilities to add an interesting/obnoxious twist to the levels. Especially if it’s the Dark Matter Spin, because fuck everything about that nonsense. You will get the ability to phase things in and out of existence, go into a perpetual death-spin, control time, and reverse gravity. Then, amongst all the usual jumpy, spinny bandicoot shenanigans, you’ll also occasionally get to play as other characters for a different perspective on the story. There’s alter-dimensional Tawna who is the badass QUEEN OF MY HEART and a couple of others, but none of them matter, because TAWNA. No longer relegated to being Crash’s boobful girlfriend, Tawna gets to use a grappling hook and roundhouse kick everything into oblivion, and the break from old school Crash gave me immeasurable, if far too brief, joy.
That’s because Crash Bandicoot 4 is hard. Like, berating a digital marsupial, interrupting your significant other’s Skype meeting with profanity, wishing you could give up but you can’t because you have to review it hard.
And it’s not just due to Toys for Bob’s devious level design – depth perception can be a problem from certain angles, for example, despite the handy yellow circle that indicates your position. The useless ability to shift your view ever so slightly is just mockery. The game’s unforgiving nature will also have you wondering what you did wrong in some places when, in fact, all you did was land half a millimetre too far to the right. Fortunately, the game takes pity on people like me.
You know, normal people who hate platformers and have the reaction speed of a drugged capybara. For one, there are two ways to play: Retro (with no check points) for sadists and Modern (with checkpoints) for normal people. Then, if the game senses that you’re struggling, it will offer you a pity-checkpoint, a single-use shield, or invincibility. It’s not always helpful, though, especially when the only thing standing between you and the next stable platform is your inability to reliably press the buttons you’re meant to press, when you’re meant to press them. Thanks for the shield, but the problem is my brain.
For all you completionists out there, there’s plenty to do. Besides the main levels, there are the optional ones from the side-character’s perspective, flashback levels, and N Verted levels which are the same ones you just did, but going the other way, with a black light rave effect. All that, and finding all the fruit and hidden gems, should keep you occupied for a while.
You don’t have to be a hardcore, nimble-fingered gaming mongoose to play Crash Bandicoot 4. Anyone can get through the game with a little persistence. Although, even with the help, you’re going to get angry and require regular time-outs, which I recommend, because otherwise you’re going to end up repeatedly spite-murdering poor Crash and that way madness lies. Be prepared for death by accidental double-jump, accidental body-slam, faulty depth perception, over-excitement, and your own hubris. If you like platformers, though, this is a solid one.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
A noob-friendlier installment in the Crash Bandicoot franchise that should please fans and newcomers alike. Just remember to breathe.