Review | Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

LifeisXbox’s Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time review | Unless you live on another planet, you’ve probably heard of this little genetically enhanced bandicoot called Crash. Just like Super Mario Bros and PokΓ©mon, the Crash Bandicoot franchise holds a dear place in many of our childhood hearts. These games do tend to ‘grow up’ with us a little, and the same can be said about this one. With the release of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time for Xbox One (read our review here) and PlayStation 4 at the end of last year, we were all hoping for newer releases this year. Our prayers have been heard and a version for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5 were released last week. With an upcoming PC version at the end of this month, it is clear that Crash Bandicoot is still very much alive in all of our hearts.

We played Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time for 10 hours on the Nintendo Switch. This game is also available on Xbox and PlayStation (coming to PC later this month).

What we liked!

  • Gameplay | Devoloper Toys for Bob is continuing the Crash Bandicoot franchise with the same enjoyable linear platforming that we are all familiar with. Defeat enemies, gather Wumpa fruit, destroy crates, discover gems, and finish the level. We get a total of 64 levels, including 5 boss battles, a few timeline battles, and flashback tape levels. While keeping to the original, they also managed to implement some new elements, with the most notable being the Quantum Masks, which I will talk about a bit later. You can also play all levels as both Crash and Coco (and sometimes as Tawna), but I did find myself keeping to Crash mostly. The possibility to switch it up is very welcome, though.
  • Graphics | The art style we find in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is about the same as the one used in N. Sane Trilogy, but even better, brighter and newer. It’s very charming, colourful, and creates a sense of nostalgia. The various environments you travel through all have their own characteristics and it was an absolute joy discovering new levels every single time. I especially loved the pirates environment so much! The cutscenes look pretty decent as well, elaborating on the story bit by bit.
  • Music | I enjoyed the upbeat music in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time a lot, without it distracting me from the gameplay. Every level offers a fitting soundtrack, and the sound effects are well placed. I’ve always been a fan of the little sound you get when kicking an enemy’s but, and that remains the same here. It’s a very simple, yet satisfying little sound.
  • Difficulty | There are two ‘difficulty’ options: retro and modern. While the Retro Mode offers the authentic gameplay where you get a set number of lives and you have to restart the level if you lived through them all, the Modern Mode is a bit more friendly to new players. You get a few checkpoints in every level, and you can respawn at that checkpoint as often as you want. Fair warning: there will be a number in the upper right corner of your screen showing you how many times you died, and since there is no limit, this can be really embarrassing if you keep failing. As someone who loves platformers, but isn’t super good at it, I loved playing in both modes.
  • Gold mine for completionists |You’ll go through the main campaign in a few hours (I think around 10 hours of gameplay here is a fair guess). However, when finishing this main campaign, you won’t even have finished half the game! Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time offers so many challenges and gives you a big ass list of to do’s to check off before completing the game 100%. There are the flashback levels (which I will talk about more below), time trails, multiplayer mode (again, see below), and the N. Verted Mode. Now, this last one is pretty cool: it’s like a mirror dimension where everything is flipped around so something you’d usually find on the left, is now on your right. On top of that, every level introduces another filter and has N. Verted Gems!
  • Masks | One of the highlights of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time are the newly introduced Quantum Masks. We get four masks that each hold their own power like bending gravity or slowing down time. The introduction of these Quantum Masks really adds to the enjoyability of the game, even though it makes everything just a little bit harder. Especially the masks that makes objects and crates phase in and out of existence really screwed me over a few times. I had to fully (like 200%) keep my head in the game or I phased items too quickly, and plummeted to my death. Like a few times. This clumsiness of me aside, the masks really provide a lot of extra fun!
  • Multiplayer content|Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time offers a fun way to play together called Pass N. Play. You can activate this ‘game mode’ for every level in the general settings, and it works very easily. You pass the controller (or your Switch in my case) to another player (up to 4 players) when you die, when you reach a checkpoint, or when either ones happens. The individual scores are tallied at the end of the level, so you can see who did great and who sucked the big one. Besides this, there is also something called the Bandicoot Battle, which are basically two games (Checkpoint Races and Crate Combo) where you balance skill and speed.
  • Flashback tapes | Personally, I was a big fan of the flashback tapes. There are 21 tapes to collect in total throughout the levels, so not every level has one. It’s pretty simple, don’t die before you reach the tape in a level, and you can take it. If you reach the tape, but you have died before in that specific level, then it will be shown but you won’t be able to grab it. Honestly, this was the worst, it was like the game laughing your face and saying ‘yeah it’s here, but you ain’t getting it’. The flashback levels themselves are fun levels were you try to reach the end by failing as often as you want. It offers a little insight into the past of Dr. Neo Cortex experimenting on Crash. Let me warn you: these flasback levels are pretty damn hard, and have no other goal than simply finishing it.
  • Switch specific | Since we reviewed this game for the Xbox before, I wanted to write a specific section on how it ruins on the Nintendo Switch. And I have to admit, I’m digging it. The whole gameplay went very smoothly, loading times were minimal, and the graphics also shined here. If you’re a Bandicoot fan and you own a Switch, I can highly recommend adding the fourth instalment to your Switch library!

Somewhere between

  • There is nothing to see here, you can just read on.

What we disliked

  • Camera | Damn, I forgot what a drag the camera angle is in this game. This was honestly the one thing that made me enjoy Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time a bit less. When the screen is horizontal like a typical platformer, everything was usually fine, but playing on a 3D vertical screen (where you watch Crash from behind), really got on my nerves every now and then. The path wasn’t always clear, meaning that I sometimes missed something because of the bad camera work, and you can’t really switch camera perspective at all. Jumping and landing isn’t always easy, though the yellow little circle indicating where you’re going to land helps a lot!

CONCLUSION

89%

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time hits that sweet spot right between keeping to the original and introducing something new. These two are perfectly balanced, and I can only be positive about the release of this game on the Nintendo Switch!
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