If you were a kid at the time that the mighty PS1 was in its prime then you surely spent significant time playing Crash Bandicoot. Since then Crash and his marsupial friends have enjoyed many outings, originally under Naughty Dog, and later Activision. Although it has taken more than 20 years for a full-fledged Crash game to make its appearance, It’s About Time states it perfectly… IT’S ABOUT TIME!
The biggest risk that comes with sequels or remakes that only happen many years after the original is that fans might have moved on, or got tired of waiting. And if your fans have moved on, is it even worth still making the game at the risk of it doing badly? And are the new gamers interested in revisiting a formula that was popular two decades ago?
When Crash Bandicoot debuted back in 1997 it had good competition in the linear-platforming genre in the likes of Croc. Since then the Linear-platform genre has become less popular with other titles like Super Mario Odyssey opting to go towards a more open-world sandbox nature. Crash Bandicoot 4 has stuck with what made it successful all these years later. A more refined, albeit linear, level.
Fans of old will be happy to see that their furry friend still bounces, spins, and crashes ( get it…) through vibrant and colorful spectacles that we call levels. Fans that are new to the Crash Bandicoot franchise will quickly be drawn into the box smashing fun. In short, Crash Bandicoot has not missed a beat in the time he has been missing.
Starting up the game the first option you get is whether you want to play Retro, or modern. I would suggest going with modern as Retro will have you only receiving limited amounts of attempts and retries where modern gives you endless lives and checkpoints, trust me, you will need them!
Not much has changed in the formula for Its About Time from the previous games. It’s About Time still focuses on players needing to let Crash run down a hallway, crashing, smashing, and bashing their way through boxes and bad guys all while collecting items. At times the perspective might change with Crash running away from the camera rather than towards, as well as the occasional side-scrolling stages. Mix in a few boss battles and you have the general play of Crash Bandicoot. This might seem a bit mundane and old for the current crop of gamers seeing that we have games where you need to invest serious time and brainpower to play, but It’s About Time just feels right!
It’s About Time has added a good few aspects to the Crash games to give this one some more flavor. The boss battles are really intense and where one wrong move, much like the other stages, will have you reset to a previous checkpoint. Another large and challenging introduction is the ability to use masks that grant you temporary powers. The normal protection mask will have you absorb one hit from an enemy that would usually have killed you. The other is a kind of time-shift mask that when activated will have you “phase” objects in and out of existence allowing you to traverse the environment. Need to jump across a large ravine? Phase the block in your way, out of existence, but be careful, the platform you need to land on is also phased out now… This leads to a lot of mid-air swearing as well as even more button mashing. Other masks grant abilities such as slowing down time, manipulate gravity, and make Crash move ridiculously fast!
Something that It’s About Time does well is despite the fact that we are in 2020, it is purposefully stuck in the ’90s. A time that bad jokes and attitudes were plentiful. Not exactly to everyone’s taste. Hence the dialogue and cutscenes might not be to everyone’s taste but it does definitely deliver a good story, although you will find yourself skipping cutscenes. Not because they are bad, just due to the fact that you are bound to see them a few times.
Unlike most of the games in recent times, It’s About Time has a refreshingly straightforward storyline. The usual suspects, N. Tropy, Dr N Gin, Dr N Brio and Dr Neo Cortex ( read that again slowly) want to get hold of the above mentioned Quantum masks, to harness their dimension altering powers. Crash and his fellow crew needs to stop these evil-doers from getting the masks as they start to open up interdimensional rifts.
Luckily Crash is not alone in this fight to save the galaxy. He has 4 other characters that are all playable and bring their own abilities to the table. Coco and Crash are nearly identical apart from looks. Tawna, Dingodile, and Neo Cortex will bring new abilities to platforming and will have you replaying levels that you have previously completed. Tawna has a grappling hook you can use to get to faraway platforms. Dingodile can vacuum up TNT boxes and shoot it back at enemies. And Neo Cortex can blast enemies with his ray gun and turn them into platforms to jump from.
The developers have made a good quality of life changes to the franchise. Apart from the before mentioned Retro and Modern mode, there are more subtle changes. One for subtle but very nice one is the introduction of small shadows of where your character will land when jumping. Previously you would have to rely on some questionable depth perception and luck. Now, having a clear indication of where your character is heading, if you are more sadistic, this option can be turned off.
Keeping with the ’90s where co-op was kind due to internet technology being sketchy at best for the lucky few who had. Pass & Play is a pseudo local multiplayer where each time you die or reach a checkpoint you can pass the controller to a fellow player. Not quite multiplayer but it does add a fun way of getting players that are not good at platforming to have some fun while having a better player help them through the tricky parts.
Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time is an expensive game, there is no mistake about it. The is around R1 199 for the disc version. This is a bitter pill to swallow considering the other big titles that are inbound. But for those who are unsure whether to spend the hard-earned money on your favorite orange marsupial, I can honestly tell you it is worth it. It’s About Time will have you spending hours upon hours trying to capture every last gem, and discovering every last secret level. The replayability is amped up even more post-credits with the N.Verted mode which mirrors the layout of the original levels but masks them in a visual filter that will make you sweat all over again!
special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content
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