Movie Reviews

Crash Bandicoot 4: 10 Improvements Over Crash N. Sane Trilogy

Crash Bandicoot has had a massive resurgence in recent years, with the complete remake of the first three games packaged as The N. Sane Trilogy, and then the direct remake, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Fans can’t get enough of the orange bandicoot, and though no new game is on the horizon, where there’s a will there’s a way, as modders have added Crash to Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

RELATED: 10 Facts Casual Fans Never Knew About Crash Bandicoot On PS1

However, it’s hard to follow up a game like It’s About Time, as it even managed to outdo The N. Sane Trilogy, which comprises Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. While those three games are beloved, It’s About Time features interdimensional travel, more level variety, and a much harder difficulty level.

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped allowed players to control a character outside of Crash for the first time. Coco, Crash’s sister, is a playable character for certain levels, such as the jetski stages and “Orient Express,” which sees Coco riding a tiger over The Great Wall of China. But there wasn’t much difference between Crash and Coco’s capabilities. It wasn’t until Crash Twinsanity that the series took it a step further, as players control both Neo Cortex and Crash at the same time, which is fun if a little uneven.

However, It’s About Time takes it to extremes, as there are five playable characters throughout the whole game. Crash, Coco, Cortex, Dingodile, and Tawna. They all have their own music and their levels have themes specific to them too, such as Dongodile’s levels taking place in swamps.

Crash fans hate “Stormy Ascent” for its difficulty level. The slippery level, which can be found in the very first Crash Bandicoot game, sees Crash climbing the side of Cortex’s castle in the thunder and rain, and it’s known for just how near-impossible it is. But that’s nothing compared to It’s About Time, and after playing the fourth game, “Stormy Ascent” feels like a walk in the park.

In It’s About Time, players have to be so cautious with every step they take, and it’s so easy to tap the wrong button between Quantum masks, which almost always ends up being fateful. And though the game was played by thousands of 90s kids who are fans of the original, given how painfully frustrating it can be, it’s hard to believe that It’s About Time is ultimately aimed at children.

When it comes to different characters in any other game, including the N. Sane trilogy, they’re simply different skins and don’t have any abilities different from the main character. But It’s About Time gives every character a unique ability, weapon, and strength.

RELATED: 10 Games To Play If You Love Crash Bandicoot

Tawna has a grappling hook and can swing to great lengths between pirate ships, Dingodile has a giant flamethrower, and Cortex has a raygun that can transmogrify objects. Ironically, they’re all so much more fun to play as than the titular bandicoot. In the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash only has his high jumps and spins. And though Warped does feature the Wumpa Bazooka, which came in handy for the future levels, that’s literally as far as the trilogy went in terms of weapons.

It’s About Time is such an expansive game, and there’s so much more content than any fan could have imagined leading up to its release. Along with the 10 different dimensions full of levels with even more stages branching out of those, players can find flashback tapes hidden around the game.

The flashback tapes see Cortex experimenting with Crash before the bandicoot escaped Cortex’s Castle in the original Crash Bandicoot. The tapes test players’ skills and response time in some of the toughest collision courses ever, and there are so many of them that it could almost have been a standalone game. And at the very least, it could have easily been DLC.

The narrative in each game in the N. Sane Trilogy is fairly simple. In the first game, Crash has to rescue his girlfriend, Tawna, from the wrath of Cortex. The same thing happens in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, only this time it’s his sister. And in Warped, Crash has to stop Cortex from getting all of the time crystals.

However, It’s About Time takes the time-travel aspect to a whole other level, and not only does it go backward and forward in time, but there’s interdimensional travel too. And the game somehow manages to intertwine five characters’ different stories and different goals into a surprisingly sprawling sci-fi game.

While the N. Sane Trilogy rebuilds the 20-year-old games and makes them look better and more fluid, the three games are still products of their times. For as great as the games are, the boss levels are predictable and simple memory puzzles where players have to learn the enemies’ patterns before striking them. Whether it’s Ripper Roo, Tiny Tiger, or Papu Papu, it’s all the same formula.

But the boss battles in the fourth game are one of the biggest improvements of the original trilogy, There are still the pattern-learning bosses, but there are others that are so much more inventive too. “Stage Dive” is the best level in Crash Bandicoot 4, as it sees the now robotic N. Gin playing a massive drum set as Crash tries to climb up to him, and players can only do it by using the Quantum Mask.

Hidden details in Crash games have always been a tradition, and with the series being well over 20 years old by the time It’s About Time was being developed, there was a lot to pull from for Easter eggs. They’re all over the place in the fourth game, such as Crash’s digs at the beginning of the game on Sanity Beach, and a giant Spyro balloon and Ripper Roo bouncing around on a rooftop both show up in “Off-Beat.”

And there are even times when the masks, whether it’s Aku Aku or the new fan-favorite Lani-Loli, make jokes about how the games between Warped and It’s About Time don’t exist. Along with being an epic sci-fi game, Crash 4 is a meta and self-aware comedy, and it’s a treasure trove for Easter eggs.

Most developers don’t spend much time on the layout and interaction of the “level select” screens, but it has been a Crash Bandicoot tradition for a long time. The original Crash Bandicoot has three islands with animations hinting at the level contents, and it then switched to Warp Rooms for the second and third games.

RELATED: The 10 Best Crash Bandicoot Games, Ranked According To Metacritic

In It’s About Time, the series returns back to the Crash Bandicoot-like maps, but instead of islands, they’re whole dimensions each with its own themes. And to switch between dimensions, Crash slides along an interdimensional rail. Even outside of the actual levels, the design and presentation of the game are phenomenal.

It’s About Time features a New Orleans-themed Madigras-type level, several levels set in a colorful and volcanic Mesozoic era, and action-packed stages on pirate ships. While some of the themed levels have already been explored in the N. Sane Trilogy, it certainly wasn’t on this scale. The levels are way denser too, as some can take up to 30 minutes to complete and have three different character switches.

However, in fairness, though some Redditors think Warped is overrated, the third game in the series introduced loads of new gameplay styles and vehicles. Warped saw players flying planes and riding motorbikes and jet skis. And It’s About Time is extremely lacking in vehicle levels.

There’s no denying how replayable the N. Sane Trilogy is, but once players have completed each game, there isn’t much to do other than to start from the very beginning again. But, along with the Flashback Tapes, It’s About Time has 42 full levels, many of which take hours to complete and even longer if players want to collect every box and every gem.

The developers have maniacally hidden boxes in places that players would never think of looking, meaning that gamers will be endlessly combing through each level. If fans want to 100% complete the game, it could easily take up to 120 hours.

NEXT: The Last Of Us & 9 More Best Naughty Dog Games, Ranked According To Metacritic

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