Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Review
It’s About Time! Crash Bandicoot fans have waited 12 long years for everyone’s favourite bandicoot to return with a true successor and trust me, the wait has been worth it! From the moment you first jump into the crazy world of Crash Bandicoot, it’s clear that Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time pays homage to the original trilogy and builds on the foundation laid way back in the late 90s — a formula that still holds up strong today!
Back in 2017, Vicarious Visions released Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy that consisted of remastered editions of Crash’s first three entries into the gaming world; Crash Bandicoot (1996), Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back (1997), and Crash Bandicoot: Warped (1998). Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy was a fantastic example of how good these games were and bought a sense of nostalgia for every gamer who had a Sony PlayStation. Best of all, thanks to the overwhelming reception of this trilogy, the green light was given as Toys For Bob began work on the first new entry into the series since Crash: Mind over Mutant, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time picks up effectively where the N.Sane Trilogy finished up, directly after the events of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. A rift in time is created by Uka Uka (who then proceeds to pass out) that allows Dr. Neo Cortex and N. Trophy to escape from the time prison and access any dimension they wish. And as you would expect from your stereotypical bad guys, they want to take over each of the dimensions for themselves. This means it is once again up to Crash, Coco, and an array of friends to save the multiverse once again.
In a nutshell, the ‘bad guys trying to take over the world/multiverse’ is nothing new, but it does remain loyal to the series and provides a deep enough experience to keep you engaged in its story, especially thanks to the classic Crash humour events that made me feel like a teenager again!
Much like the story, It’s About Time’s gameplay mechanics are quite similar to its predecessors, just with a noticeable increase in difficulty. As with tradition with Crash Bandicoot games, you will progress one level at a time throughout the many zones (10 in total with 4 levels each) of the multiverse map. Once you clear a zone you will be met with the inevitable boss who is blocking your pass. These boss levels are a step up in difficulty from what you will encounter throughout the N.Sane Trilogy, but also a step up in creativity. No two boss fights feel the same every boss requires a different set of gameplay mechanics to defeat them. This, of course, adds to the level of frustration, but this is nothing a few attempts and a new controller won’t fix.
You will spend around 10 hours (to complete the story only) smashing boxes, collecting Wumpa fruit, and throwing your controller against the wall. I spent my childhood playing every Crash Bandicoot game and have sunk in countless hours trying to 100% each of the games again on the N.Sane Trilogy, but even with all that experience I still found It’s About Time to be a significant step up in difficulty, especially when trying to 100% each level.
To combat this increased in difficult, It’s About Time can be played in two modes — ‘Retro’, which is the traditional way of gaining lives by collecting Wumpa fruit, and ‘Modern’, which is a new take on the game by providing unlimited lives but instead provides the majority of Gems earnt on the level by a number of objectives such as Gems collecting a certain number of the level’s Wumpa fruit, smashing all of the level’s boxes and finishing the level with three or fewer deaths. There are still a number of hidden Gems in each level, but the Modern mode does allow for a slightly less-stressful experience if your main goal is to just complete each level and not 100% it.
As you progress through the levels you will encounter Quantum Masks that are used to close the rifts created. There are four Quantum Masks in total, with each mask also providing Crash with a new ability to help him along the way. Lani-loli provides Crash with the ability to phase certain crates, obstacles, and enemies in and out of reality. Akano was my favourite Quantum Mask as he allows Crash to constantly spin and float across huge gaps. Kapuna-wa takes a page straight out of Max Payne by allowing you to slow down time. And finally, Ika-Ika, who provides you with the ability to manipulate gravity.
All of the traditional Crash moves are back — Spin, Double Jump, Body Slam, Slide, etc.. These moves complement by an array of new and wacky moves thanks to the Quantum Masks you come across. This allows It’s About Time to stand out from any other Crash game in the series and adds a new layer of variety the platformer. The other noticeable improvement in gameplay is the addition of a visual landing zone. This may sound like a minor improvement, maybe even a negative for hardcore Crash Bandicoot purest, but having the luxury of having a small circle on the ground to indicate where Crash (or anyone of the playable characters) land is a significant quality of life improvement. Being able to judge your character’s trajectory is a welcomed improvement, especially when you consider how difficult and frustrating the game is.
There are several old and new enemies throughout It’s About Time. The new enemies, such as hungry sand sharks, provide enough of a change and challenge to keep the game fresh. But if you haven’t played a Crash Bandicoot game in the last 20 years, then chances are you would have forgotten about all the classic enemies and utilities such as my personal favourite surfing jet board that makes a number of appearances throughout It’s About Time.
There is no denying it — It’s About Time is exactly what you expect from a Crash Bandicoot game. It is colourful, vibrant, and full of crazy animations that bring the game to life. Each zone feels unique thanks to a number of wacky settings such as Salty Wharf; a tribute to the inner pirate in all of us, The 11th Dimension; a snow-themed adventure, Eggipus Dimension; a tropical island that is set 88 million years before Crash Bandicoot, and of course, N. Sanity Island; where it all began. There are many more settings and even a few bonus levels that ensure you get a sense of nostalgia.
In case unlocking the bonus, levels aren’t enough for you, there are a number of skins (29 in total) for both Crash and Coco to unlock. I must admit, I loved seeing Crash running around like a giant chicken, pirate, and even going back in time to the classic 32-bit era of Crash Bandicoot. These skins are unlocked by completing various objectives throughout the game such as earning a certain about of gems in a level. The good news is that Toys For Bob have stated that there will be no microtransactions at all, meaning you have to earn these skins instead of using mummy’s credit card.
Toys For Bob have done an amazing job of being able to capture and recreate each character and their animations perfectly. Crash, Coco, and Neo Cortex look fantastic and their animations are flawless. One of the first things I did was stand still and see what amusing things Crash will do, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed — Watching Crash dance to his own funky beat, pull a rubber ducky out of his ear, or take a selfie (this is the new age of Crash Bandicoot after all) certainly added to the nostalgia effect.
It is not only the idle animations that got attention, but there is also a TONNE of death animations to explore (trust me, you will experience most of them). This isn’t only for Crash, but every playable character (Crash, Coco, Tawna, Dingodile and Neo Cortex) all get a unique range of death animations. This shows the level of detail and commitment that Toys For Bob have put into It’s About Time, something I know any Crash enthusiast appreciates.
Crash is back! It’s About Time is the true successor that every Crash Bandicoot fan has been waiting for since Warped. Toys For Bob have done the impossible and transitioned the iconic platformer into the current generation of gaming without upsetting all of us Millennials. It’s About Time features everything you expect from a Crash Bandicoot game; wacky humour, gorgeous visuals and Neo Cortex trying to take over the multiverse, but is also able to improve the core gameplay experience with a number of new abilities (thanks to the Quantum Masks) and improvements (landing circle). Replayability has always been a strong suit of Crash Bandicoot games and It’s About Time is no exception; Hardcore Crash fans will spend hours trying to collect all of the Wumba Fruit, Gems and 100% each level to unlock every one of the skins for Crash and Coco, but I bet they will go through a few controllers thanks to the increased difficulty that may put some people off,
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time Review
- GAMEPLAY - 87%87%
- GRAPHICS - 90%90%
- AUDIO - 84%84%
Crash is back! It’s About Time pays its respects to the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy by both welcoming gamers to the series but without upsetting hardcore Crash fans. There are plenty of welcomed additions to the game but the increased difficulty may discourage some casual gamers.