Developed By: Toys for Bob Published By: Activision Categories: Platformer Release Date: 03.11.21
The long awaited Crash 4: It’s About Time came out last year on PS4 and Xbox Series X to both fan and critical praise. In a wild case of Fear of Missing out on the hype surrounding the game, I did buy the PS4 version to play on my PS4 Pro, despite knowing that Activision had a trend of porting their games to Switch months after these PS4 and Xbone versions released. Moving forward to 2021, and lo and behold, a Switch port is announced and as it’s my preferred console, I knew double dipping for me was going to happen.
First, lets discuss Crash 4. We’ve had plenty of Crash Bandicoot games since Warped in 1998 from a variety of party games, racing games, straight up beatemups, and with this comes a plethora of developers. The reception has been mixed so to say on these efforts and until 2017 with the N Sane Trilogy, the series laid dormant. N Sane Trilogy proved one thing for sure though, people wanted more of the original trilogy. Crash 4: It’s About Time, is a more traditional Crash game, but not just a clone of the originals. At least outside of the music, which I found to be a bit *too* much like an emulation of the original trilogy’s music.
It’s best to describe Crash 4 as a cartoon in game form. The animations are beautiful and I adore the cutscenes. This comes off a a very designer made videogame. The actual new Character designs seem to divide the fanbase, but I love them and they compliment the animation exquisitely. Crash 4 on a gameplay front is going to be familiar to fans of the first three games. Sometimes a behind the back 3D Platformer, sometimes 2.5. Each level is full of crates and wumpa fruit, you’re gonna want to break those crates and get those fruit. In certain crates you can get an AkuAku mask, which acts as a damage buffer. With one mask, you get an extra hit, two makes two extra hits, three masks is limited time invincibility, otherwise, it’s one hit deaths.
Most stages have you play as either Crash or his sister Coco, which was something was was added on a full game basis with the N Sane Trilogy and is a very welcome addition to the series. The newest addition to the series and one exclusive to these stages are the new Quantum Masks. Slow down time to get those platforms stable, or to delay the explosion of a deadly Nitro crate. Phase certain objects in an out of existence. Spin out of control like the Tasmanian Devil.
The occasional level has you play as an alternate future version of Crash’s girlfriend Tawna, the series antagonist, Neo Cortex, and last, but definitely not least, one of the old bosses, Dingodile. With Tawna, you now have wall jumps and a grappling hook, can can change the stages up, but it still feels like a Crash game, just upgraded. With Cortex, the game becomes more of a shooter platformer. You can shoot enemies and at times can and will need to make platforms out of them. Dingodile’s stages are my favorite. He has a vacuum to suck up enemies, crates, wumpa fruits, barrels, and then shoot them right back. He can use it to hover over hazards too. These stages aren’t incredibly common and aren’t too different, but feel different enough to spice up the game when needed.
Each area ends with a bombastic boss fight. With the one hit deaths, they can be challenging, but they are all pattern based. On top of that, each boss has checkpoints. Crash 4 at the start gives you the option of having either a classic life system with game overs, or just infinite lives. Never feel bad about dying in a stage or boss.
Crash 4 is far from starved for content starting with every level has it’s own NVerted version. Reversed stylized mirror of what you’ve played before. Each stage has a set of six gems to get, from collecting a lot of wumpa fruit, not dying over three times, finding a hidden gem, getting every crate, etc… These unlock outfits for Crash and Coco, an incentive I adore. Each stage has it’s own outfit to unlock from gems, and some require you to go to those NVerted stages I mentioned earlier. Crates are occasionally hidden in very unfortunate spaces one would never imagine to look. Right under ridges, well out of sight where it seems a bottomless pit are.
On top of all of this, we have Flashback tapes, which are challenge levels you can acquire in levels. These levels are contextualized in Crash 4 as the testing Crash went on before the first game. Also returning are the time trials, something I never feel good enough to try. You might be pulling your hair out 100%ing the game. There’s lots to do, and some challenges, including perfect runs are incredibly hard. Just do things one step at a time.
Crash 4 has multiplayer in two forms. The nostalgic way of swapping players upon death, which brings me back to the old Mario games called Pass N Play. There’s also Bandicoot Battle, which is races in levels for up to four players. Either in racing to checkpoints or racing in levels to see who can destroy the most crates. I didn’t get much use out of the multiplayer, but it was a welcome addition regardless.
Now for thoughts on the port. First impressions were very bad. The splash screens either have no audio or were laggy. However, once getting to the game proper, it definitely cleans itself up. The unavoidable changes do rear their head however. The resolution is much smaller, like the other Switch ports from Activision. Framerate takes a noticeable dip as well, from 60 to 30. The framerate is a consistent 30, which does take time getting used to as a player of the PS4 version on a Pro console.
It’s disappointing to have the framerate halved with Crash 4, but it’s completely understandable and still perfectly playable. I’m not a framerate snob in the least, so don’t take it as a major downgrade, but for people who demand 60fps, play the other versions. Personally, I value portability over all in this case.
Crash 4: It’s About Time is a great game no matter how you play it. It feels like an evolution of the original Crash games, while not straying too far from what people loved about them.