- Developer: Toys For Bob
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: £44.99 / $39.99
- Release Date: 12/03/2021
- Review code provided by Activision
Introducing: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Switch Review
Everybody’s favourite marsupial has crash-landed onto the Switch and it’s about time… Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is probably the most ambitious new release in the franchise since, well, Warped. It’s no secret the series lost its appeal after the original, recently dubbed the N.Sane Trilogy, but were Toys For Bob right to completely dismiss every entry between Warped and It’s About Time?
Dr Neo Cortex and Nefarious Tropy have busted out of intergalactic prison by escaping through a rift in space and time created by Aku-Aku. It’s down to Crash and Co. to collect all the quantum masks to close the multiverse and stop Cortex once and for all.
If you’re interested in our thoughts about the PlayStation 5 version, then check out our companion review.
This Is The Darkest Timeline
The guys over at Toys for Bob have done a phenomenal job of blending together traditional platformer gameplay with brand new mechanics, offering an authentic Crash experience but giving it a fresh new feel. The controls were natural and personally I felt they were more refined than N.Sane Trilogy – the yellow jump indicator, for example, was a much-needed addition. Jumping in a 3D platformer has always been an issue with very few games actually perfecting it, so knowing exactly where you would land was a simple but super-effective feature. If the original button layout isn’t to your liking there is the option to remap them in the settings. The only issue I had was when the camera angle would spin round when transitioning from forward view to side-scrolling, causing the protagonist to miss jumps and make silly mistakes due to losing perception.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time also introduces the quantum masks, the the guardians of space and time who have been awakened to help Crash and the gang save the multiverse. Each of the 4 masks offers reality-bending abilities when worn, from slowing down time to changing the direction of gravitational pull; they can really get you out of a pickle, especially the extremely helpful Lani-Loli who can bring items into and out of existence. When a jump looks too far to make, you can use the mask to make a platform appear to help cross the ravine.
Crash & Cortex In The Morning
The amount of content crammed into It’s About Time is completely N.Sane. If you are brave enough to stick around after the main storyline there are easily 25+ hours of gameplay, and if you are a completionist trying to achieve that elusive 106% to unlock the alternate ending then be prepared to plough 70+ hours into it. Alongside the main storyline you will find the usual extras like collecting gems, hitting all the boxes, and smashing those time trials, but Toys For Bob are a generous bunch and have introduced 2 new modes specially for Crash 4. The 21 Flashback levels, which can be unlocked by collecting VHS tapes in the main game, are a challenging crate-smashing frenzy, and the second addition is the N. Verted mode which is just the levels from the main game but flipped. If that wasn’t enough, there are also 9 alternate timeline levels where you can play as Tawna, Dingodile and even the game’s antagonist Dr Neo Cortex.
Platformers have a tendency to put an emphasis on gameplay, with little to no storyline and character progression is pretty much non-existent – which is no bad thing especially when you want to just pick up and play. But what I found completely unexpected whilst playing Crash 4 was the story development, especially the unlikely budding relationship between Crash and Cortex. You can tell a lot of thought and effort has gone into the process of creating It’s About Time.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is visually spectacular especially on the Switch, after watching our console comparison video it’s hard to believe the footage was taken from the little hybrid console as it definitely gave the next-gen juggernauts a run for its money. The only major difference was the loading times which when shown next to the PS5 and Xbox Series versions stuck out like a sore thumb, but when playing the game I didn’t feel the loading screens lasted particularly long. I would hands down say that It’s About Time is the most alluring game to be released on the Switch this year so far, and if the only compromise is longer loading times I would wait all day to play. There is a slight downgrade in visuals when in handheld mode which is to be expected; cutscenes have a grainy look to them and the levels can sometimes look blurry but on the whole, it is an impressive experience. Toys For Bob have created a vibrant cartoon-y environment that feels genuine and does the franchise justice.
Crash himself has also had a makeover, now resembling his look from the Skylanders series. If you are not a fan of his more modern appearance you can unlock new skins in the game to give Crash different looks, and if you are yearning for that original look you can choose the classic Crash skin. The soundtrack also offers that distinct Crash Bandicoot sound which can be mistaken for the song Bad Guy by Billie Eilish.
Crash, Bang, Wallop
Crash 4 on the whole runs smoothly and holds up well in both docked and handheld modes. There were a few instances where ledges and platforms would flicker in and out of view causing missed jumps and a few stressful moments but nothing that would ruin the experience. I also noticed that if you are playing with the classic Crash skin and you picked up a mask it would revert Crash back to the normal skin and then back to the retro look once the mask was gone. These small issues could probably be fixed with an update.
After deciding to hold out on getting Crash 4 when it was first released on the PS4 and Xbox last October because I was adamant a Switch release was inevitable, I am glad to have waited. The announcement and release were a lot sooner than I thought with only having to wait a short 6 months. Toys For Bob have proved again that if done right you can port a game onto the Switch with little to no compromise. It’s About Time looks truly stunning visually and It’s pretty incredible how well it plays in both docked and handheld compared to the next-gen consoles. The game does offer a challenging experience which can lead to frustrating moments in places, with a noticeable difficulty increase 2/3 into the storyline which could put some players off. But being able to switch between retro and modern modes gives the player flexibility to change the difficulty to suit their ability. Having grown up with platformers and playing through the original Crash games in the ’90s (Wow I feel old) Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a worthy entry in the franchise.
Also to answer my question at the start, yes, Toys For Bob were right to dismiss the other entries in the series, and the sly meta humour made for a hilarious yet nostalgic rollercoaster ride.
- Visually stunning and stands up well against the next-gen releases
- Generous amounts of extra content to keep you playing long after the main storyline has ended
- An authentic Crash experience
- Reasonably priced for a AAA release
- Can be challenging in places which could discourage the player
- Reading through and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions at the start of the game