It has been over a decade since an original Crash Bandicoot game was released in the mainline series, and it’s been even longer since we saw a really good, original title. A string of mediocre titles ultimately saw the series lay dormant for a few years before Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy released in 2017 and we were all reminded of how great this series once was.
With the success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, it seems appropriate for Activision to push for success with a new entry in the series, and they’re doing just that with Toys for Bob leading development.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a direct sequel to the original trilogy, set after the events that took place in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. After being defeated by Crash, Coco and their friends, Dr Neo Cortex, Uka Uka, and Dr N. Tropy create a tear in the fabric of time after escaping from the time prison they were being held in. The tear has opened the door to a multiverse that has been thrown into disarray, and it’s up to Crash and Coco to ally with the four quantum masks and restore order.
These Quantum Masks aren’t just a plot point, as they function much like Aku Aku has in previous games. Crash is able to wear these masks, and they grant him with unique abilities for a period of time. So far, we know of three of the masks and what powers they can grant. Kapuna-Wa lets you slow down time for a short period, Lani-Loni lets you phase objects in and out of the world, such as boxes or potential obstacles. The third mask, Eeka-Eeka, grants you the ability to flip your centre of gravity in an instant. The team are keeping the final mask a secret for now, but I’m already loving the variety that these new masks bring to the game.
Staying true to what the Crash Bandicoot series has been a key focus in the development of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, a statement that fans are sure to be happy with. When you get your hands on the game, you’ll find that Crash Bandicoot 4 features the same challenging sense of gameplay that its predecessors were known for, and Toys for Bob looks to be turning it up a notch with the addition of N. Verted Mode.
Developed with Beenox’s assistance, N. Verted mode functions as a mirror mode of sorts except the game’s levels now feature new challenges and a complete visual overhaul. When Toys for Bob unveiled the mode at the most recent State of Play, we got to see a glimpse through a few of these changes. The levels in one of the dimensions were all underwater which completely changed how Crash navigated the levels, slowing down his movement and jump properties. Another saw the level devoid of colour, with Crash having the repaint the area by spinning.
From what’s been shown, N. Verted Mode looks like it will provide a significant challenge for players, essentially forcing them to familiarise themselves with every level of the game again, albeit under very different conditions. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the other visual changes when the game launches.
If you’ve never played a Crash game, you might find yourself racking up more deaths than you’d like. But while Toys for Bob are certainly catering to fans of the series, they’re also opening the game up to make it more accessible to newcomers. Traditionally, the series allocated a set number of lives to players, which decrease when they die. This is still the same in Crash Bandicoot 4, but now there’s a new feature where instead of losing lives you can opt to display a death counter instead. With this feature, known as Modern Mode, you’ll no longer need to worry about starting a level from scratch if you were to run out of lives.
Ultimately, the way to play the game is entirely up to you. Retro Mode is still there for a classic experience, if you really struggled with the older Crash Bandicoot games, you’ll always have Modern Mode as an option too.
In Crash Bandicoot 4, Crash won’t be the only playable character, with Toys for Bob confirming that Coco Bandicoot is also a playable character. They’ve said that any level that Crash is playable on, Coco will be too. We’ll also get to play as Cortex, and it looks like you’ll control him in levels that take place at the same time and location as levels where you control Crash.
Most recently, Dingodile was confirmed as a playable character. After Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Dingodile retired and founded his own diner. Unfortunately for him, his diner is destroyed in the early stages of the game and he’s sucked into an alternative dimension. From the sounds of it, there will be other characters too. Could we see Tiny Tiger, Pura, Panda or someone else playable as well?
I’m excited to see the differences in how each character plays, especially with how we’ll go about completing levels differently. However, as much as I love the addition of new playable characters, I haven’t quite settled on some of the updated designs that Toys for Bob have brought to the game. In saying that, Toys for Bob are also incorporating a number of alternate costumes for characters, which you can earn in-game. It sounds like the easiest way for the team to implement microtransactions but fret not, as they’ve confirmed on multiple occasions that microtransactions won’t be making an appearance in the game.
From what Toys for Bob and Activision have shown, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time looks set to reinvigorate the series, providing fans with a challenging experience that not only reminds us of the games we grew up on but does more than enough to create its own identity and push the series forward.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time will be available for Xbox One and Playstation 4 on October 2.