Activision and Toys for Bob’s Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a meld of the classic challenging platformer with the addition of new Quantum Mask mechanics. This along with the new unique boss fights and the massive amount of replayability available that includes the amazing N. Verted, Flashback Tapes and Time Trials modes, makes for a fantastic all-round experience that will keep the player coming back for a long time.
The boss fights are some of the most unique experiences in the whole series. They require both timing and skill to complete and advance, and they cannot be beat by just memorising a pattern like previous instalments. They are also the hardest bosses in the series to complete and the most satisfying.
Throughout the worlds that are explored, the player will unlock new and interesting characters for use. Each one has an introduction level that will give the player an opportunity to learn how to use each character’s unique abilities.
The new characters include:
- Tawna – A pirate with an attitude and a wicked grappling line that can be used to get from place to place with ease and grab those hard to reach boxes. She has a great roundhouse kick to boot!
- Dingodile – Part dingo, part crocodile. This character has a vacuum based weapon that allows for sucking in boxes (and TNT!) for use on anything that moves. The weapon also allows for hover jumps to reach those hard spots. This is by far this reviewer’s favourite new character to use.
- Dr. Neo Cortex – The bad guy himself! Cortex has a ray gun that allows the player to turn enemies into platforms, either solid or gelatinous for bouncing on. He also has a dash to reach those hard to get to areas.
All of the new characters include an alternate timeline to play through that gives their perspective on what has occurred and further expands the story.
As the player progresses, they will also discover new Quantum Mask’s with different powers.
The masks are:
- Lani-Loli – This mask allows for switching between alternate realities during certain levels. This is used for making platforms appear and disappear along with boxes and other obstacles.
- Akano – The infinite-spin mechanic is introduced with this mask and makes it so the player can cover great distances with the double-jump move. This is also great for the destruction of metal-wrapped boxes.
- Kupuna-Wa – One of the best and frustrating masks that allows the player to stop time for a few seconds. This is a crucial mechanic to master for late game challenges.
- Ika-Ika – This mask allows for the player to invert gravity when needed. The inversion position takes some time to adjust to the depth perception of being upside-down.
All of these powers will be necessary to defeat N. Tropy and mastery of them to find all of the hidden gems, both coloured and normal. Gems are collected by finding all of the boxes in a level, using three lives or less in a level and one hidden gem for a total of six per level. The level lengths are bit too long in places and can get tedious at times to complete with the difficulty. Once the player is able to complete a level on Normal mode, they will unlock the N. Verted mode for that level.
N. Verted mode is an amazing feat of artistry combined with the challenge akin to the mirror racing mode from the Mario Kart series. Some levels are dark with bright colours on where to go, which is a bit like the Fumbling in the Dark level from the first Crash Bandicoot. Others just have the artistic flair of bold outlining of the world and just a different take on the normal mode of the levels. The fact that the player needs to beat the game twice, once in Normal and once in N. Verted mode, gives a huge amount of replay value.
The Flashback Tapes are also another uniquely hard take on the classic Crash Bandicoot. It is Crash and Coco versus the boxes maze that Neo and Nitrous Brio have concocted. It is amazing on two levels:
- The tapes to open these levels must be collected by getting to the tape in one life, which is not an easy task at all.
- Once open the level has three medals to collect based on the number of boxes collected on each attempt. This uses the old Cortex key bonus rounds difficulty with no ground available to land on.
The tape levels are presented as they are an old VHS tape that is being played with the interlacing-based effect of an old tape which is really well done.
Another piece that adds to the content of the game is the classic Time Trials mode. The player will race a ghost to the finish line and try to earn the three available medals. They will need to be fast and hit all of the numbered boxes to stop the timer for a few seconds in order to achieve the fastest times.
The Pass N. Play mode allows for up to four-player couch co-op play with only one controller. It can be setup to pass the controller to the next player on checkpoint or death. This was a great time with the kids and wife allowing us to all play the game and pass the controller for a family gaming night. The other multiplayer option is to play a game of either Checkpoint Race or Crate Combo with up to four players. All of these modes are kid friendly and while some themes are not suited for the youngest of kids, they are few and the game is built around good clean fun.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was reviewed on a retail copy of the game on a PS4 Pro and is also available on Xbox One. Our thoughts are ours and ours alone.
Rob for One More Game