As the title suggests, it is about time we got a new Crash Bandicoot game, and yes it is about time just like in Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped from way back in 1998.
As the title of this review also suggests, Crash Bandicoot 4 is freakin’ difficult!!
With a good deal of time invested in this new title, blood pressures shot through the roof and enough WTF moments to make even Limp Bizkit proud, let us join Crash and Coco on their latest adventure.
TIME TO CRASH THE PARTY!
Yes, this latest entry took the mechanics of timed platforming and injected it with fermented Wumpa Fruit and kindly let it loose upon us.
Things pick up where the villains, Dr Neo Cortex and Dr N. Tropy, is locked away in a faraway dimension in time. (haha I see what they did there)
With the help with Aku Aku’s evil brother, Uka Uka, they attempt to break free from their time prison and manages to so, or you know, we wouldn’t be having this new game.
Thereafter, we meet Crash… fast asleep on the sofa in front of the TV. Aku Aku realizes something is not right and wakes Crash up rather abruptly, and off we go with little to no explanation to why we still on an island full of stuff trying to kill you only when you have to pop down to the local Tiki shop for milk.
The story does kind of unfold as you go along, and soon see that Dr N. Tropy is the mastermind behind it all *GASP*, and with the new evil plan of the villains, so too does our heroes get new allies in their fight against whatever plot is swirling inside the head of N. Tropy.
A returning character and Crash’s ex-girlfriend, Tawna swinging in from a different time, and must have watched too much Crocodile Dundee reruns on her way, looks really different and takes on a much more action hero style.
The other two is, and hold on to your chair for this twist, Dr Neo Cortex and Dingo Dile. Yes, two adversaries are now part of the gang and bring a fresh mix to the punch-bowl.
Crash and Coco being identical in controls, as you just merely swap out between the two before a level, the other three, Tawna, Cortex and Dingo, all have their own levels suited to their playstyle.
Tawna sports a handy grappling hook to reach boxes the is not in your immediate path and to take out most enemies. Her look, however, is something from earlier mentioned Crocodile Dundee reruns, with a fringe big enough to use a launch ramp and pink leg warmers straight out of an 80’s gym session. But whatever, it works and she is clearly not the skinny Bandicoot from the first game.
Dr Neo Cortex being less agile in body, well almost, is armed with a ray gun that has 2 functions. Shooting boxes makes them explode, shooting enemies either turns them into a metal platform or a bouncy jelly platform to, uh, bounce off from?
The other ability of Cortex is using his head, literally. His head being so large, he flings himself forward like a yellow bowling ball, assisting with the breaking of crates and to clear gaps.
Dingo Dile, being forced out of retirement, from what I assume was his House Cleaning business, uses his vacuum cleaner, or a leave-blower, to clear jumps, shoot TNT boxes at enemies, or to reach Crates just far enough to not risk the jump for. For a big lizard, he is quite nimble.
GET OUT OF MY GAME, DARK SOULS!
So? Is Crash Bandicoot 4 as hard as the title states?
No, Dark Souls wants to kill you and does so. Crash Bandicoot 4 straight up murders because F#@%!&K You!
Some of these levels just hate you and your sanity and demands precision as if you were threading a needle with a rope. Yes, trial and error was even in the previous games, by my goodness, does it have to every minute or so?
I will admit, it is fun running through a level without dying, but I’m afraid my controller cannot handle more abuse from clutching it too hard when barely making a jump that previously made Crash, or Coco, or Tawna, or Cortex, or Dingo, faceplant the bottom.
Generally, enemies get take disposed of with a single hit attack, same goes for you which results in often hilarious death animations. Hardly any of them actively attacks, a few do but nothing you can’t avoid, so they more of an obstacle than a threat seeing as you can completely avoid if that allows it.
A series staple, running towards the screen, is still the same, you run away from whatever is wanting to eat/kill you while navigating the terrain ahead with a mere second to make a move.
The animal riding sections makes a return too and dare I say, feels too floaty compared to the more direct input from previous titles.
The new added challenge is collecting the Wumpa Fruit as a way to unlock gems, three per level, which goes hand in hand with the smashing of boxes for another gem. The fun doesn’t stop there, as every level has an inverted model for extra gems. The gems are for unlocking the many costumes for Crash and Coco to wear, but sadly none for the others and that I feel is a missed opportunity.
SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW
The entire game is colourful, like really colourful. The type of colour after microwaving a 60 pack of crayons colourful. Jungle, desert, snow, colours are just vibrant and pure eye candy, while the futuristic levels are RGB overload.
Two playstyles are now present, Retro and Modern, but going through the game on Modern is recommended as it allowed an infinite number of deaths whereas Retro is the traditional lives system from we know. This is probably best kept for the Time Trails to keep you on your toes.
Speaking of toes, remember that Rounded Edges from the N. Sane Trilogy? Well, the edges are a little more squared off, the biggest help to make you are making the jump before jumping out the window, is a circular market of where you will land. Very useful when trying to get a box sitting between two Nitro explosives the same way I was seated between two people in a crowded train.
The latest addition to make gameplay even more colourful, is the Quantum Masks, giving special abilities for certain sections. Infinite Spinning to move around like a disembodied helicopter blade, Phasing objects in and out of existence, and Time to slow down time to make certain jumps, and Gravity, each of these are great to use, although the Gravity one really messed up my brain at times when aiming for some precision.
WHERE TO NEXT, CRASH?
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is worthy of pick up if you are a hardcore Bandicoot fan. Even though the redesign of Crash is different from what we most are used to, this new Crash bring quite the personality to the table, like when hovering above the option to replay a level, he looks towards the screen with a nervous smile saying “Do I Have To?”
For the Upper Tier hardcore fans, Time Trails to 100% the game is a must and real challenge, that or I just suck.
After years of just Ok titles since the original trilogy ended on the PlayStation 1, this feels like the real deal and can finally say…
Crash is back!!!