Crash Bandicoot 4: Itâs About Time marks the first core sequel of the venerated platformer series since 1998âs Crash Bandicoot 3. Youâd think after all that time it would feel fresh or interesting, but itâs little more than the same old, same old.
In hopping and spinning through Crash Bandicoot 4âs stunning and vibrant levels, it wasnât long before the visual charm wore off and tedium began to set in. Video games, especially platformers, have come a long way since the â90s, but Crash Bandicoot 4 feels like it was left in the dust.
Starring the titular bandicoot named Crash and a handful of animalia cohorts, Crash Bandicoot 4 takes the 3D platforming style established in the seriesâ first three games and gives it a fresh, 4K coat of paint on modern consoles a few years after the original trilogy was remastered. It sticks to mostly familiar territory as you crash through hundreds and hundreds of Wumpa fruit crates, jump along platforms that test your precision and timing, and die instantly, repeatedly, over and over again.
Death looms heavily over almost every level. Dying a dozen or dozens of times in a single level isnât too uncommon, especially when trying to collect every crate possible and some of them are floating precariously over bottomless pits. On top of these deadly pitfalls, Crash also dies in a single hit if heâs struck by an enemy or comes into contact with an explosive crate unless he has a temporary shield. There arenât many of those.
Itâs all part of the Crash DNA that separated the series from the rest of the 3D platformer competition in the â90s. Crash Bandicoot is unforgiving and requires players to get a handle on movement quickly. That hasnât changed in Crash 4, which is frustrating at times, but thatâs what the game is going for.
Luckily this fourth entry in the series isnât quite as unforgiving as the older games. The default, suggested difficulty level makes it so you donât have to restart entire levels if you die enough times, and instead just perpetually puts you back at the last checkpoint until you finally prevail.
The space between checkpoints can be pretty long, though, and repeating the same section over and over again can sometimes feel annoying. In one section in the gameâs third, East Asian-themed world, I had to navigate across extra-wide gaps while avoiding TNT crates and I kept either falling or exploding. After just a couple attempts, I wanted to stop because it wasnât particularly fun or satisfying even when I was progressing further, and needing to repeat the plodding start of that section again and again was grating.
All of this serves to slow down a game where the maximum speed isn’t particularly fast in the first place.
While progressing through Crash Bandicoot 4, it became clear in the third world, just a couple hours in, that there wasnât much to this game. You jump, you spin, you do the occasional chase level or boss fight, and thatâs about it.
Enemy threats stay relatively stagnant, platforming challenges donât change much, and I never feel like Iâm improving my skills. Thereâs very little that alters the game in a substantial way, except the masks.
In Crash 4, as you progress through the game you find different masks that grant you different abilities, like the ability to alter reality (turning crates and platforms on and off, basically), briefly slow down time, or use a spin move that allows Crash to jump really high but also always propels him forward on the ground so you donât want to turn it on right next to a ledge.
The thing is, you can only use these special masks at specific times. You donât get to keep them in your utility belt and bust them out at any moment. Theyâre built into specific parts of levels, which makes them feel gimmicky at best.
Crash 4 also tries to switch things up with different playable characters that have their own unique abilities, like Tawna and her grappling hook. But they donât play differently enough to be particularly interesting compared to Crash. Similarly, the âN. Vertedâ versions of levels that can be played after beating them arenât different enough from their normal counterparts to be compelling.Â
The lack of real differentiation throughout the game makes all of Crash 4 feel stagnant. Itâs not doing anything particularly interesting, and when that fact is paired with its sometimes frustrating difficulty, what you end up with is a game that just isnât particularly enjoyable to play.
Crash Bandicoot, PlayStation 4, Toys for Bob
World news – GB – ‘Crash Bandicoot 4’ doesnât add anything to the platforming genre