Out of everything in 2020, was anyone expecting “true sequel” to the Crash Bandicoot series to be released? Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Toys from Bob launched on 2 October 2020, promising to continue off where the N.Sane Trilogy stopped when it collected the previous three games in one pack on its release in 2017. In about 10 hours, that’s roughly enough to get you through the main levels. In total, there are 107 of them: 43 main story, 43 N’verted modes of the main story levels, and 21 flashback secret levels.
THE GIVEN STORY
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time continues following the events of Crash Bandicoot™: Warped. After being imprisoned for many years Neo Cortex, N. Tropy, and Uka Uka finally make their escape… by ripping a hole in the fabric of reality.
Having exerted all his magical energy to open the rift in space-time, Uka Uka falls into a deep sleep. But N. Tropy sees opportunity in the fracture Uka left behind. He begins building a machine – The Rift Generator – to create more tears in time and space. With dimensional travel at their fingertips, he and Cortex immediately begin an all-out conquest of the multiverse.
Once again, it’s up to Crash and Coco to save the day. They can’t do it alone, but fortunately the dimensional disruption had one benefit – it awakened the powerful Quantum Masks, the guardians of time and space, who can grant our heroes the ability to bend the rules of reality.
Crash and Coco embark on a journey through time and alternate realities to seek out the scattered masks, which brings them face-to-face with several figures from their past.
It’s primarily a platforming game through and through, so don’t expect an especially grand story: the bad guys do their nefarious deeds, and the good guys stop them. Easy peasy.
GETCHA HEAD IN THE GAME
There’s two modes you can play in and change from any time:
- Continues from last checkpoint on death. Adds +1 to the death counter on the HUD
- Limited lives, with more you can collect on the way. Restart level from beginning when out of lives
You also have a choice in playable characters:
- Crash or Coco: Swap between them to play through the levels. They share the same moveset
- Tawna: Melee attacks, namely, the boot. Has a grappling hook to travel further, and can also wall jump
- Dingodile: Has a vacuum weapon to suck in crates. Suck in TNT and fire them at enemies. Aim the vacuum downwards to float in the air briefly
- Neo Cortex: Transforms enemies into platforms, then to bouncy platforms, or back to normal. Can air dash, but no double jump
Without a lock-on function, it can be difficult to utilize either Dingodile and Neo Cortex as it only fires in the direction of where the character is facing. This can be especially vexing for Neo Cortex, as some of his levels require him to create platforms, and misfiring would probably mean death.
Besides the usual platforming and on-rails sections, the levels have elements of wall running and rail grinding. You’ll be utilizing them across the various missions:
- These are akin to side missions where you play as another character, seeing it through their perspective while Crash and/or Coco are running the main missions. You swap back to the protagonists in the latter half, which may feel strange
- Flashback Tapes
- The classic 2D platforming, a la auto scroller. Break crates and jump with precision or restart from the beginning
- N’verted Mode
- Unlocks through main story, featuring horizontally flipped maps and effect filters, on top of other modifiers like limiting your vision
- Time Trial
- Unlocks on finishing a level. Clear the level as fast as you can on one life or start from the beginning on death. Break certain crates to shave off more time
Compared to previous titles, Crash now has a yellow circle indicating his landing position instead of a shadow some may miss. If you die too many times, you’ll be assisted with extra Aku Aku protection from damage, or spawning a new checkpoint between the original checkpoints. As you do that, you should keep a look out for 6 gems:
- Get 1-3 gems by collecting 40%, 60% and 80% of Wumpa fruit in the level
- Get 1 by destroying all crates
- Get 1 by finishing the level in three or less deaths
- 1 is hidden in the level
N’verted Mode will have another 6 gems with the same requirements, and collecting all from a level will unlock a new Skin. Skins will change the outfits of characters, of which there are currently 29 of them. 1 is the default, 24 are unlockable through gameplay, while the other 4 are through special means like digital downloads. Crash & Coco skins are collected separately through the level.
The world design harks back to the first Crash game as you travel from place to place, checking out the various unique sceneries, from desert junkyards to prehistoric ages and everything in between. The levels are more or less linear, though there will be crates hidden away with some levels having split branches.
A MASK FOR SOME OCCASIONS
Ostensibly the main conceit of the game, but they will only appear in certain sections of the level. Crash will put on the mask in the beginning of the section, and once it’s done, the mask will peace out. The four you’ll encounter are:
- Phase Shift: Phase in and out of existence through objects, crates and obstacles
- Dark Matter: Surrounds Crash with dark matter, easily breaking crates. However, if you hit a TNT crate, it will explode and kill you. Can jump higher and over longer distances
- Slow Time: … well, slows time. You can walk on Nitro crates when time is slowed
- Invert Gravity: Swaps the ground and ceiling
It adds a new layer to the traditional platforming gameplay, though with it only being limited to certain sections might be disappointing. You do get to use all of them towards the end of the game, to have a By All Your Powers Combined kind of moment to take down the bosses that stand in your way.
Pass N Play is a pseudo local multiplayer mode where you can hand off the controller to a friend to continue from a checkpoint or death. Both regular and N’verted levels will allow you to do so, and each player’s score will be tallied individually at the end of a level.
You can also play up to two or four players in other game modes:
- Checkpoint Race
- Race to set the fastest time per checkpoint, winning when you have the most number of fastest times
- Crate Combo
- Break crates to score points between checkpoints as quickly as possible or your combo meter gets reset. Just rack up that score to win
It’ll probably be a lot of fun if you could, you know, actually leave the house in the current pandemic climate.
ONE END TO THE MULTIVERSE
Crash 4 has a whole bunch of new elements they’ve added to the traditional platforming game to make it a whole lot fun. The levels are more than likely challenging on your first run, but once you’ve gotten the rhythm down pat, there’s plenty of reason to go back to collect all the gems or set a new time. Things like the N’verted levels adds that layer of challenge for those who want to push their platforming chops, all in freshened art style and animations.
|Plenty of modes for replayability||
Controls especially for ranged weapons can be awkward
|New playable characters||
Alternative POV characters can’t be played through a timeline level
|Challenging and rewarding platforming|
|Beautiful graphics and animation|