Crash Bandicoot? Isn’t that, like, some game character from a hundred years ago?
It’s been 22 years since we last saw this genetically enhanced bandicoot—who was known for his platform-leaping chops and the ability to deflect attacks with some Tasmanian Devil-like twirls.
Now, good ol’ Crash is back in the new game Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. And while he may not be as well remembered as a certain hedgehog named Sonic or a plumber named Mario, he and his other animal pals are set to save the world from baddies and give gamers some new leaping, spinning and grinding platformer challenges.
Along with a brand new, updated, spit-and-polished look, the gamemakers at Toys for Bob (no relation) have given the Australian-based Crash a very nice save-the-world storyline that outshines the less-than-riveting tales of the original platforming franchise. That said, Crash’s new adventure still ties into where the series left off.
Back at the end of Crash Bandicoot: Warped, our dashing hero defeated three nefarious ne’er-do-wells named Uka Uka, Neo Cortex and N Tropy, trapping them in a time-dimensional prison where they could do no harm. Crash 4 opens with Uka Uka expending the last of his magical oomph to tear a rift through the fabric of time and space. The other baddies escape, which means it’s time for Crash and his sister Coco to swing back into action.
It seems N Tropy has found a way to use his newfound interdimensional understanding to create a time-rift generator. So before he and Neo Cortex can enslave the universe, Crash and Co. need to collect a quartet of Quantum Masks and use their magical powers to seal the rifts. They must do that and beat a number of baddie boss fights while bebopping through a series of colorful (not to mention pretty challenging) platforming levels.
Gameplay-wise there are some very nice improvements here that make jumping from box to box and platform to platform much easier than in the original trilogy. There are also some rail-grinding and wall-running segments that throw a nice variety into the mix. And each discovered Quantum Mask adds some magical boost to Crash’s moves, too.
One mask, for instance, turns Crash’s spin into dark matter, a transformation that helps him jump and glide higher and break special boxes better. Another mask flips gravity, while another slows down time to make platform jumps less difficult and magic-casting enemies a little easier to avoid.
But be forewarned, the Crash 4 platforming is never easy. Some fast-moving levels will demand repeated play after multiple failures—for young and old alike. And that’s especially true if players want to grab as many collectables as possible.
Beyond that playability assessment, there are also some surprising content bits in this game to be aware of, too. Along with booze-focused visuals, toilety gas-passing, comic vomiting and “oozing orifice” references, there’s some unexpected language, including profanity such as “a–” and “b–tard.” You’ll also find colloquial crudities such as “geez Louise,” “buggers” and “crikey!” in the mix. And there is, of course, quite a bit of baddie-bopping that’s part of the gameplay while pirates, giant robots and dinos try to attack with everything from metal lances to guns and dynamite.
None of those elements are particularly heavy handed or frequently offensive, but they’re all in there. And for a parent reliving some old platforming fun with the young ’uns, some of those bits might, uh, crash the E10+-rated party.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.