One of the most well-known marsupials, Crash Bandicoot, returns with his typical witty humour. After the success of the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, it only solidified that another Crash game had to be on its way. Toys For Bob has kept the original platform recipe while adding a bunch of new features to spice it up.
There are two ways to play Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Modern Mode and Retro Mode. The game’s recommended mode, Modern Mode, allows you to die as many times as you want per level. Each time you die, it is tallied and you will receive a gem if you die less than 3 times. The other mode ‘Retro Mode’ is classic Crash, for those who want the old-school experience.
“The Quantum Masks completely alter the gameplay.”
The storyline follows Crash and Coco as they must recover the powerful Quantum Masks so they do not fall into the wrong hands. The usual suspects, Doctor Neo Cortex and Doctor Nefarious Tropy, are up to no good once again and it is your job to stop them from trying to take over the multiverse. With the introduction of the Quantum Masks, new gameplay mechanics have been added into the game. Each mask offers a different ability, transforming the game.
There are 4 Quantum Masks, the Phase Mask (Lani-Loli), the Dark Matter Mask (Akano), the Time Mask (Kupuna-Wa), and the Gravity Mask (Ika-Ika). Lani Loli allows the player to change switch dimensions of certain elements. Crates will sometimes appear in a ‘bluish tint’ and won’t allow you to break them unless you activate a phase shift. While using Akano, you are stuck in a constant powered up spin, smashing anything that comes your way. With Kapuna-Wa, time slows down and wearing Ika-Ika, gravity can be reversed.
“Every level feels different than the last.”
With the addition of the masks, it feels like there are so many elements you have to worry about at the same time. Having to switch phases while running across walls almost feels impossible pressing that many buttons. Although it may be difficult, it makes levels more memorable. Wearing the Akano mask is by far the most fun in the game. Drawing similarities to Taz from Looney Toons, wearing the Akano mask converts Crash and Coco into a destructive tornado smashing everything in their path. This is by far the most enjoyable mask in the game. Levels are constantly filled with TNT or Nitro Crate so you are never quite sure when you’ll slip and meet your demise.
All the levels in Crash Bandicoot 4 are unique. In the older crash games like Crash Bandicoot: Warped, some levels felt repetitive. There are multiple levels which are carbon copies of each other such as the dreaded Jet ski and tiger jumping levels. Here in Crash 4, every level is refreshing. There is the occasional classic element of running towards the screen away from something chasing you but it is, by no means, warn out like previous Crash titles.
There isn’t too much to dislike about the level design besides the length. Each level feels almost 2-3 times longer than levels in previous games. The N.Verted levels add a nice gimmick to the game. The unusual sound-engineered visual filters add extra variety to the game as well as doubling the amount of content for players. Unfortunately, it does sort of feel like too much. The N.Verted levels feel tedious considering you are essentially replaying the same lengthy level all over again.
“Playing as Tawna is a break from Crash and Coco.”
Crash 4 does occasionally drift away from the main storyline with familiar faces showing up as playable characters. Dingodile and Tawna show up as you complete the main story, and break up the gameplay with their own separate story levels to complete. Although these levels are not mandatory in completing the main storyline, they do a good job at breaking up the gameplay.
Dingodile is obviously played by someone who does a terrible Aussie accent, but that is part of the fun. His bulkiness allows you to be extremely destructive as you smash your way through the levels. It’s a nice break from playing as Crash and Coco and having to precise with your movement. Tawna’s hookshot ability keeps you constantly checking the foreground for things to interact with. She also offers a different move set and a very effective sword, making her incredibly fun to play. Cortex is also a playable character in the game, but you are better off forgetting about him completely. His gun turns enemies into platforms so you can use them to proceed through the level. Overall, Cortex just doesn’t feel as good as any of the other characters so you probably want to skip over him as quickly as possible.
The most notable part of the masks and extra playable characters are the biggest changes to Crash Bandicoot 4: Its About Time. They add extra components to the gameplay to only make it better than its predecessors. Toys For Bob has done a great job of elevating the fundamentals of Crash and reinvigorating it with fresh ideas.
In previous Crash Bandicoot games, the objective was to collect gems and that has not changed here. Gems are still your overall mission but instead, are earned in a variety of different ways: By collecting a certain percentage of a level’s total Wumpa fruit (40%, 60%, 80%), smashing all the crates in a level, finishing a level with three deaths or less, and locating the hidden gem somewhere along the course.
Crash 4, for the first time, features character skins. Thankfully, this game is not plagued with microtransactions and all skins must be unlocked through actually playing the game. You unlock most of the skins for both the main playable characters, Crash and Coco, from collecting gems in each level. A few skins are PS4 timed exclusives, unlocked by connecting your Activision account, or one skin was a digital pre-order bonus. This is a nice novelty addition. Especially, when you can unlock all the skins and flex on your friends.
Toys For Bob understands Crash. Adding new components to keep the game fresh while maintaining everything that you expect from a typical Crash Bandicoot game. Each level is wonderfully crafted and distinct even if, at times, they do feel a bit too long. The addition of N. Verted levels extends the length of the game which is not always a good thing. Nevertheless, including different playable characters as well as the Quantum Masks enhances the series to new heights. Overall, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is the perfect blend of old and new.