In the latest Console Corner, Damien Lucas reviews Crash Bandicoot 4, which is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. One of the pillars of platform gaming is back – and it’s about time.
Everyone’s favourite box-busting marsupial is back for Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time – do you see what they did there?
Crash is one of the godfathers of platform video games, having first burst on to our screens in 1996.
Now developed by Toys For Bob and published by Activision, this is the eighth main instalment in the Crash Bandicoot series. It acts as a sequel to the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – so it’s the fourth game chronologically.
Where is Crash Bandicoot 4 set?
It’s set following the events of Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The story follows Crash Bandicoot and his sister Coco. They are aided by former enemy Dingodile and an alternate-dimension counterpart of Crash’s old girlfriend Tawna.
Their quest is to recover the all-powerful quantum masks in a bid to prevent Doctor Neo Cortex and Doctor Nefarious Tropy from enslaving the multiverse.
I know, it sounds like the same old format for a platformer, but why fix what ain’t broke? And one thing’s for sure with CB games, there’s never a dull moment.
This time around there are new elements to the traditional gameplay with the use of powers provided by the quantum masks. They can alter levels and provide means to traverse or overcome obstacles.
There are additional game modes for replaying levels and the ability to control five characters in the game. Three of them come with individual gameplay mechanics and even their own levels.
Each level is filled with your standard Crash Bandicoot fare – enemies, crates, wumpa fruit and plenty of hazards. The objective, as ever, is to get from the start point to the goal.
Retro and modern modes
There’s a retro mode, which focuses on the use of limited lives. This requires you to find additional ones during levels and forces you to restart if you run dry.
Then there’s the rather unimaginatively named modern mode. This replaces lives with a death counter that keeps track on each death in a level by its respective playable character.
Levels also feature separate variations, each of them with their own layout of hazards, enemies and objects, main story and ‘alternate timeline’.
The rebirth of Crash Bandicoot
This really is the rebirth Crash needed going into the next gen of console gaming. There’s life in the old dog-looking creature yet, and CB4 will delight newcomers and fanboys and girls alike.
As ever the challenge is tough, this is no cakewalk and the game rivals Donkey King for its difficulty curve.
Crash Bandicoot 4 looks stunning, as you would expect given the power behind what’s a pretty simplistic platformer. But the visuals really pop.
You’ll find yourself happily replaying levels thanks to the variety of ways to navigate them, the collection of gemstones, the time-trial runs and the creative N.Verted mirror levels, which for me are the crowning glory.
There are the odd – albeit minor – negatives. Chiefly, the game’s maddening habit of repetitively cheap deaths – or could it be I’m just really bad? For example, you might hit the edge of a platform but instead of getting a bit of leeway you’ll almost certainly be punished.
But there are plenty of nods to the classic elements that make Crash Bandicoot such an important game in console history.
There are also some much-needed twists and updates that keep things interesting. These give plenty of scope for future titles on the forthcoming PS5 & XBox Series S.
A combination of new ideas and excellent but not OTT gameplay tweaks and additions are the perfect marriage alongside a fun and thrilling platform journey that has plenty of longevity to boot.
On: PS4 and Xbox One