Playing through the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was an absolute blast, but I wasn’t sure if it held up due to nostalgia, or because it was a genuinely good platforming game. After playing through a handful of levels from Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, it’s definitely the latter.
Snow Way Out was the first level that I got to play. It’s set in the 11th Dimension (1954) and obviously, takes place in a snow filled environment. The level introduced me to Kupuna-Wa which allowed Crash to slow down time, which was used in order to hit crates before they disappeared and later in the level slow down falling platforms to get across levels.
The mask was also essential in solving the warp level, which was incredibly difficult to complete. It required the use of an exclamation mark box in order to get through a series of Nitro boxes. In fact, the entire game is as difficult as ever. I was worried that the game might not have its signature difficultly in the modern mode, which counts deaths rather than gives you a set number of lives (there’s no game over screens in this mode), but I was still racking up dozens upon dozens of deaths. It was the same familiar skillful Crash Bandicoot, without the huge frustration.
In this mode, extra lives are replaced with Golden Wumpa crates, so there’s still that added difficulty. A retro mode still exists in the game which will result in ‘game over’ and having to start the entire level again.
The game’s platforming feels similar to that of the N Sane Trilogy. Crash feels a tad floatier, but the hit zones feel quite similar. The game feels like it has more open areas than any Crash game before it. There’s still the same familiar side-scrolling and regular corridor sequences, but there is also more verticality that has Crash going up and down as well as side to side in certain areas.
I definitely felt that the individual levels were longer than in previous games, with more Wumpa Fruit and crates to collect than ever before. It was taking me a decent chunk of time to get through the levels, even without collecting everything.
The game is absolutely gorgeous, with visual effects happening all over the place. A particularly charming part of the dynamic environment is the set pieces that are found scattered around certain levels, such as an explosion in the distance, that cause Crash to react or stop and stare.
The next level I played was Dino Dash, which was set in the Eggipus Dimension (88 Million B.C.B). This was a fairly different type of level and had Crash familiarly running toward the camera and away from a gigantic T-Rex for a lot of it. It felt familiar in the sense that we’ve seen this kind of level in almost every Crash game, but there were more obstacles in the way, with the level being broken up by slide rail segments that felt straight out of Ratchet and Clank.
This level introduced the second mask, Lani-Loni, who can phase objects in and out of the world. Similarly to Kupuna-Wa, the ability is used for a lot of puzzles, but is also essential to getting through the level. It’s needed primarily for the rail segments, which will have you not only flipping up and down but also pulling things in and out of the world on the fly.
The last level was actually another version of Snow Way Out, with Dr. Neo Cortex as the playable character. The level eventually meets where the Crash segment kicks off, but for a good chunk of the level, you play as Dr. Neo Cortex, who feels completely different from Crash.
Firstly, he can’t double jump, which means that jumps make with Crash become impossible. Luckily, he has a gun that can not only turn enemies into platforms (yet another Ratchet and Clank reference), but he can also turn them into gelatinous bouncing platforms. He only has a dash technique which is essential to reach most areas. Once again, Toys for Bob has done a great job of making sure that you need to use all of these abilities to get every crate and Wumpa Fruit in the game.
Though my time with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was quite brief, I’m really confident in the direction that Toys for Bob is taking with it. It feels like classic Crash, with a few twists to make it feel like a modern platformer. It’s as difficult as ever but more accessible and it looks absolutely stunning visually.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time releases on October 2nd for PS4 and Xbox One.