It's been long overdue but our favourite Bandicoot has finally returned in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. Though we've probably had our fill of nostalgia with the superb N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, this is the first all-new title in the series in years. The last title released on a console was on the PS2 generation with the likes of the Wii and Xbox 360. To put that into perspective, the PS2 just celebrated its 20th anniversary. It's definitely been a while, but we're all glad to see Crash crashing and dancing and bouncing on our screens once more.
Despite releasing a number of other titles (this is technically the eighth game in the series), this is the first game that continues the story where it left off way back in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped on the PS1 or the third part of the N. Sane Trilogy if you're unlucky enough not to play the original game. The story ended with Crash defeating Neo Cortex, N. Tropy and Uka Uka, imprisoning them in the past. However, after many years, they've escaped, having opened a portal that allows them to travel to other dimensions. Because of this, they've set their eyes on multidimensional domination. Aku Aku, sensing a disturbance in the Force -- sorry, space and time -- warns Crash and Coco, Crash's sister, that the only way to stop the villains is to gather all the Quantum Masks who have power over space and time scattered throughout the dimensions. And that's where Crash and Coco's dimension-hopping adventure starts.
The gameplay & graphics
It's no question that our favourite Bandicoot has come so long since he washed up on N. Sanity Beach in the first game. Fans of the series will definitely revel in the nostalgia this game brings in its gameplay and the way you have to traverse through the nail-biting levels. In fact, the very first time you control Crash, it begins on the very same beach the first game did with that familiar theme playing in the background. But the game doesn't only lean on nostalgia. There are a lot of new elements that make it interesting and challenging like utilising the Quantum Masks, which give you special powers that affect your environment. When you start the game, you have the choice of choosing between two modes: Retro Mode goes with the traditional vein of the series where you have a limited number of lives which if exhausted means you have to restart the entire level over again; and then there's the Modern Mode where you basically have infinite lives and just start back at every checkpoint. Purists will say that the Modern Mode is for noobs, and technically, they're right. There's a reason why the developers recommend Modern Mode on the start screen: because this game might arguably be the most difficult title in the series.
Those familiar with the series know that the ultimate goal is to get 100% completion on each level. That means destroying all the boxes and getting all the gems, but even just getting through the level alive is already a challenge. Granted, it can be infuriating at times, especially when you're just one box short of destroying all the boxes in a level, but it actually just contributes to the nostalgia. Despite being released in 2020, It's About Time still retains that level-by-level gameplay, the grind of discovering each level's secrets and because of its difficulty, it gives players well-deserved bragging rights when completing a level entirely, even more so if they've completed all levels in the game entirely.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time has been a long-awaited follow-up to the main Crash Bandicoot series and the wait was definitely worth it. Not only does the game hearken back to its predecessors on the PS1 and classic arcade games, but it also offers new twists that make the game more fun and more challenging. There will definitely be times when you're tempted to fling your controller across the room, but classic gamers know that's all part of the fun.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars