Crash 4: It’s About Time review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Toys for Bob
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was released in 1998, and it took twenty-two years for a true sequel to finally come out. Now there were other Crash releases following Warped, but none of them were considered to be true sequels and they never reached the same level of success, popularity, or critical acclaim the original trilogy did. Not to give myself too much of a pat on the back, but I did some remarkable predicting back in my former podcaster life and I predicted Crash 2020. So here we are in 2020, and while nothing else this year could have possibly been predicted, Crash 4: It?s About Time is here and I?m glad to have something positive to talk about coming out of this disappointing year.

Let?s keep with the ?Time? theme and go back to June of 2017. This was the release of the Crash N. Sane Trilogy, (which I reviewed) this saw Activision finally return Crash to the limelight in an extremely well done remaster of the PlayStation Crash trilogy. Rebuilt from the ground up, the collection hit all the sweet spots for me and had me hankering for some new bandicoot exploits. Fast forward just over three years and we finally have it; the improbable true successor to the original trilogy, Crash 4! Now developers did shift from Vicarious Visions (who just worked on the awesome remaster of Tony Hawk 1 + 2) to Toys for Bob (of Skylanders fame), so I did temper my expectations a little. There?s no reason to drag you through the review to tell you, Crash 4 is everything Crash fans have been waiting for? and then some!

From the first ten minutes of the first episode you will immediately know that Toys for Bob was more than capable of making this Crash sequel and they took it to the next level, improving the original successful level formulas. Some features from the N. Sane trilogy got carried over and they fit right at home. Say you?re struggling in a particular part of a level (and you definitely will) the game does some learning to help push you through a level. For example, if you keep dying, they will place a checkpoint in a box that previously would not have had one. I should mention Crash 4 is tough; way tougher than most of my memories of the original PlayStation titles, but at no point did I feel that I couldn?t make it through an area if I kept plugging away at it, especially with the help of those checkpoints and my buddy Aku-Aku (BUDDABUGGA!).

Many of the level designs have familiar mechanics to the original trilogy; chase levels, jet-ski riding, side scrolling, etc., but there?s also new play styles introduced with new playable characters who each have separate levels with separate gameplay styles (I won?t spoil them for people that like to ?go in fresh?). Some of these levels, while not required to play through in order to complete the game, will give you some extra insight into levels and show you how Crash got to a certain point in the story. There are also some flashback missions that you collect throughout the game through hidden VHS tapes. These missions have you playing through the experiments Dr. Cortex was putting our bandicoot siblings through.

But what about the ?Time? in the title of the game, you may be wondering?

It?s About Time goes beyond the joke of waiting over 20 years for a worthy Crash sequel. You see, Aku-Aku isn?t the only mask totem you?ll be joined with. Crash 4 features four Quantum Masks, which are each introduced throughout the story. Each mask will give you a different ability and are required to use to complete certain parts of levels. These masks push the levels into new platforming that makes you really use your reflexes and can add to the tension. The first mask you unlock is Lani-Loli, who can phase in and out items from the stage. This is everything from platforms, boxes, hazards and more. There?s nothing like jumping from platform to platform, while phasing each one in and out with each jump, while avoiding flamethrowers and enemies. Didn?t I say this game was challenging?

Crash 4 also features some options for how you can play through the game; with either retro or modern style. The retro style gives you a set amount of lives like classic Crash titles, and if you lose them all then it?s game over and you have to start the level over from the beginning. The other play style is modern, which just keeps a running tally of how many lives you?ve lost in a given stage and you can keep playing it until you beat it if you so choose? no game over to worry about. The game does, however, reward you for dying only a few times in each level by rewarding you with a diamond. Diamonds are unlocked a few ways; not dying much, collecting fruit, and some are hidden throughout. The diamonds are then used to unlock character skins. Each level has a bunch of diamonds to find or unlock which will then give you a skin to use for Crash or Coco (sorry I neglected to mention Crash?s sister who tags along as usual and can be used in every level Crash can be used in). The diamonds add a nice touch of valuable replay, trying to go back, find all the diamonds and unlock a particular skin. It has me replaying levels over and over.

I don?t know what else I could say at this point, but I think you can tell I loved my time with Crash 4. I might be biased as a huge fan of the franchise (considering I ranted on a podcast years ago about needed another Crash game), but you?d be hard pressed to find a better platformer released in 2020? Hell, I can?t think of a better platformer released in the past several years. Crash 4: It?s About Time is an absolute must buy and it?s truly about time that Activision returned Crash to his former glory. Hopefully we don?t have to wait another 20 years before we get another sequel.

Note: Activision provided us with a Crash 4: It’s About Time PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A