I myself have always sworn to Mario games since I had a Nintendo 64 and there were simply no other mascots on Nintendo’s invention. So I missed all the popular Sonic and Crash games, so when publisher Activision released a reworked Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, I didn’t encounter any stroke of nostalgia. But I had fun playing and patiently waited for what the new developer Toys for Bob had prepared for us in the fourth part.
Development team: Toys for Bob
platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Link to purchase: LINK
Issue date: 2.10.2020
Price: 58.79 € (Eigre.si)
Crash Bandicoot 4 is thus a completely new and independent sequel, for which Activision now also demands a full price. This is a pretty brave move, as we used to get three games for the same price. It is true that there were conversions, but the content was huge and the fourth part was a difficult task, as fans expected the same amount of content or a completely upgraded and improved sequel that would justify the cost of the purchase.
It’s About Time happens right after the third part of Warped is over. The villains N. Tropy and Neo Cortex have joined forces and want to take over the world again through some strange portals. Our job is to stop them and Crash and his sister Coco will be on the edge again. Their task is to capture four Quantum masks, each of which offers the heroes special powers. After completing the introductory stage, we find ourselves on a strategic map for selecting levels, which is a copy of the one from the first Crash and a linear path to the finish line awaits us, which takes us through different landscapes.
All of this sounds like Toys for Bob hasn’t innovated too much, and it’s true that for connoisseurs of previous parts, the new adventure will sit on your arm like an oiled glove. Playing in the initial stages is practically exactly the same as before: we have a long way to go to the goal of the level, and in between we need to jump a lot, avoid traps and opponents, and break as many crates as possible in between. Crash and Coco have exactly the same moves, which means spinning to break the box, jumping and sliding on the floor. However, the game soon begins to introduce new elements that let us know that we are still playing a sequel.
The biggest novelty is the double jump. Crash can jump again at the top of the first jump, which prolongs his stay in the air. This is a severely useful novelty, and I no longer remember how many times this move saved me from certain death. When we catch a new mask, even more radical changes begin to take place. Each of them adds a new ability, which then slowly flows through the replayed stages. The first mask, for example, gives us the transition of the surroundings from two dimensions. This ability must then be used when breaking boxes and also when passing stages. Another mask, for example, then allows us to rotate quickly, which allows us to practically fly over the steps when jumping. Again, the next one is responsible for slowing down time and comes in very handy when crossing a stage where we have to freeze falling ice shelves in a second to make our way forward.
All of these powers nicely spice up our playing and each of them is fun, but at the same time they greatly raise the difficulty. Crash 4 initially offers us to play on classic or modern difficulty and unless you are a complete masochist, I highly recommend modern difficulty. This removes the mechanics of losing lives and you will always continue the stage from the last saved position, and your only punishment is that the number of deaths will be displayed on your screen. Despite the fact that this makes it much easier to play, it is a mistake to believe that playing would make it easier. Some levels offer insane difficulty where neither double jumping nor praying to Jesus helps you. Sometimes crossing seems downright impossible and I especially hated switching between two dimensions when you have to jump, move to another dimension while jumping, return to another dimension before landing and then quickly jump to another platform. At times like these, the death toll was steadily rising and I could only imagine how much you would lose your nerve if you played on a classic difficulty when the game sends you to the beginning of the stage at the end of your life.
Fortunately, the game doesn’t force you to replay the same level over and over again, but it also offers optional levels along the way. These bring in two new characters like Dingodile and Tawna, offering an alternative replay of already played stages from a different perspective. It also helps that both newcomers have completely new and unique moves – Tawn, for example, can swing to otherwise inaccessible places with the help of a rope launcher, and Dingodile is my personal favorite. It is a large crocodile with a hand-held vacuum cleaner that can pull almost anything that is not nailed to it and then use these sucked objects to launch. With all this, he comments on the events with an Australian accent. However, these alternative rates, especially in Tawn’s case, are a bit odd. The beginning of the level is unique and it’s really interesting to see you play the same level from the point of view of another character. But then somewhere in the middle we move back into Crash’s skin and we have to replay the already replayed level from before. Why the degree was not simply over at the completion of the unique work is not clear to me.
The novelty is not over here, as we got very special Flashback Tapes levels, which show the testing of Crash in the Cortex laboratory. These are very difficult rooms, which also contain an additional visual filter, and these challenges are intended for those really most skilled players. In addition, the N. Verted levels are later unlocked, which are a kind of remake of pre-existing worlds for all those who never have enough content.
The levels are varied enough that you won’t get bored playing them. They come together in different sets and the game makes sure that we change our surroundings at the right time and go somewhere else. So you will walk through the pirate world, then you will turn between the streets of the city, where you will be accompanied by jazz music, then you will jump into the snowy areas and descend into prehistory. The gameplay doesn’t just consist of jumping, but some systems from predecessors also return. So you’ll ride an awkward snowboard, run away from an attacking giant without seeing the path in front of you, and even go down with your skis in wild pursuit. At the end of each major set of levels, there are also bosses waiting for you, this time much harder than in their predecessors.
The graphic image is reminiscent of that of the original, except that the intermediate sequences are more abundant and more detailed this time. While playing, you get the feeling that you are watching a wonderful cartoon, although the story is not too deep and is more of an excuse to move between different locations.
Crash Bandicoot 4 is such a decent sequel that offers everything we expected from it. Especially satisfied will be those who just wanted new Crash adventures without the developer changing the game formula too much. Those of you who wanted something different, however, will not get it here. I myself had fun playing and the game undoubtedly drags. Otherwise, I would like some changes, such as a change when picking up boxes, because if you miss one, it’s basically it and you have no choice but to kill yourself and try again. I’d also like a little more nonlinearity and more variety in general, but maybe we’ll get all of that in the fifth part. So far, I’m just glad Crash is back and that Activision hasn’t raped us in it by buying microtransactions.