Crash game - Bandicoot 4
Do you ever wish you could wipe a few underwhelming sequels from history and pick up where the last good one left off? You know, like what Superman Returns or Terminator: Dark Fate tried to do? Well, with crash game Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, developer Toys for Bob actually pulls off the half-reboot, half-continuation idea. This is a direct sequel to Naughty Dog’s original trilogy that concluded in 1998, and this team really gets Crash. It’s all the characters and action platforming I loved about the old games but with a bunch of great new ideas mixed in so well that they feel like they were always supposed to be there.
Crash Bandicoot 4 makes rapid-fire homages to Crash’s past, picking up where Warped left off and having Crash’s biggest and most delightfully hammy villains, N. Trophy and Neo Cortex break out of prison along with Uka Uka and trot out a typical video game villain plan to take over the multiverse. Crash has always been about the action, but the self-aware, amusing script walks the careful line of winking self-awareness that this sequel has come so many years later while also telling a genuinely funny, personable story.
Time After Time
Of course, any Crash game worth its orange fur lives or dies by how fun, challenging, and rewarding its platforming is, and here Toys for Bob has not only recaptured the magic of the original trilogy but added to it in new, exciting, and seriously tough ways. Crash (and Coco, who plays identically to Crash and can be swapped to for any Crash level depending on who you prefer to play as) standards like double jumping, ground slamming, and spin attacks return, but the inventive ways in which Crash 4 forced me to improve on my longstanding skills with this arsenal is a treat.
This is true from large scale decisions like building each level with more objectives (such as finding a certain percentage of Wumpa fruit, unlocking all crates, finding a hidden gem, and only dying so many times) to design choices like putting you through increasingly long and complex sequences that require perfect dashes, jumps, and spins against enemies. Those make Crash 4’s imaginative worlds some of my favorite of the series.
One of the very best new ideas comes when the four Quantum Masks are thrown into the mix and you get access to powers like gravity bending, time slowdown, and more. Gravity alterations always break my brain, and I died while mistiming a quick gravity swap and falling or ascending straight into oblivion more often than with any other mask – but what could come off as passing gimmicks in a lesser game feel smartly integrated into the challenge and flow of levels of Crash 4. Toys for Bob finds more and more unique ways to kill Crash... I mean test my platforming skills as the difficulty ramps up at a reasonable pace.
This is undoubtedly the biggest shift in how Crash 4 plays from the originals, because the originals' secret was less their difficulty so much as a product of it: their tension. Tension is baked into retro mode because each crate, each Wumpa, each hallowed life is potentially essential, each one a calculated risk. Risk death for a crate? Death, in exchange for another life? In modern mode, the tension is optional: you can reliably collect three or four of a level's five or six Gems by simply getting to the end of it and smashing most of the crates along the way, so whether the level feels tense or not depends on your own choice, of whether you want to get everything or whether you simply want to progress. Whether tension is really tension if you can choose not to have it is another question.