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Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Toys For Bob
Release Date: Oct. 2, 2020

About Chris Barnes

There's few things I'd sell my soul to the devil for. However, the ability to grow a solid moustache? I'd probably sign that contract ... maybe ... (definitely).


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PS4/XOne Preview - 'Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time'

by Chris Barnes on Sept. 22, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Our lovingly absurd marsupials are back and putting a fresh spin, jump and wump on conflicts of cosmic proportions, discovering expansive new worlds, unexpected allies, larger-than-life boss battles and powerful new Quantum Masks that must be united to restore order to the multiverse.

Pre-order Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

It's been over three years since the wildly popular Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy arrived on modern consoles. In the remastered trilogy, Toys For Bob successfully captured the charm of the popular '90s platforming series and proved that the team could bring the franchise into the modern era. With the N. Sane Trilogy selling 2.5 million copies in the first three months, it was clear that people craved more Crash. With Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, the developer creates a fun addition to the popular franchise by capturing its quirkiness with high-adrenaline platforming and escape sequences.

As the original PS1 games evolved, so did their plots. Crash 3 started delving into elements of time travel, and Crash 4 continues with that theme, so the gameplay mechanics extend beyond simple platforming and include puzzle elements. The demo of Crash 4 features three levels and is available to those who pre-ordered the game.

"Snow Day Out" kicks off the demo, immediately introducing players to the new time-bending mechanics. Crash obtains a special Aku-Aku-style backpack that grants the ability to slow down time. It's a welcome addition to the game to layer on some complexity. Players will need to time their jumps carefully and wait for fast, falling objects to align in a specific way before momentarily pausing time so they can make it across a gap that would've otherwise been unpassable.

Crash 4 sports some wonderful visuals and art direction and by no means looks dated, yet it'll feel dated within seconds of picking up the controller. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. In some ways, after running through each of the demo's levels a couple times, I started to adjust. My brain put on a pair of rose-colored glasses, kicked the nostalgia engine into full speed, and I immediately felt like I was a little kid on my bed in 1996. But my muscle memory can only take me so far in a game that's introduced additional time-warping mechanics.

After running through the first level in both Modern mode and Retro mode (infinite lives vs. life-pool limits), I moved on to the second level of the demo, where Crash escapes from a massive T-Rex and grinds on a vine through dinosaur ruins. I was constantly seeking out every last box hidden throughout this level, which, interestingly enough, opted for a different Aku-Aku backpack in place of time mechanics. Crash gains the ability to switch between two different sets of boxes and vegetative walls that appear throughput segments of the level. Crash must use the backpack while grinding on a vine to make boxes appear and plants disappear to avoid collisions. It keeps you on your toes and makes the vine-riding more than just a passive transition from one part of a level to another.

The final level of the demo is a different take on the first level, but the twist is that you begin as Neo Cortex and play from an entirely different area. Leveraging a different set of mechanics that includes a platform-creating gun and a handy bubble-dash ability, the level feels much different than it did when players controlled Crash. The controls took a while to warm up to, but after I got a feel for it, I enjoyed turning enemies into bouncy platforms with my gun and dashing to boxes that would otherwise be unobtainable.

Mid-way through the final level, you take over Crash again. With the time-bending plot, you're witnessing the level through a different timeline as Crash, and you're now faced with new box placements. Hopefully these moments are rare, as I'd hate to see the game padded with rehashes and replays of earlier levels.

In the end, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is going to make many people feel right at home because it's a well done sequel that's evocative of its predecessors. Players who are nostalgic for the original games and looking for more Crash quirkiness are in for a treat when Crash 4 releases on PS4 and Xbox One on Oct. 2.

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