The Crash Bandicoot revival, which started with the remastered N. Sane Trilogy and continued with Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled, continued with a brand spanking new release last September on Xbox One and PS4.
Switch fans may have had to wait until now to get their paws on Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, but the added wait has resulted in a fantastic port. As to whether the game itself is any good, well, that depends on how much of a Crash fan you are going in.
It's About Time
Crash 4 runs in 1080p docked, or 720p handheld
First things first, it’s worth nailing down the technical aspects of Crash 4 on Switch. Naturally, some compromises have had to be made in order to get the game onto Nintendo’s hybrid system, but Toys for Bob have nevertheless delivered an excellent package.
The game runs at 1080p in docked mode, and 720p in handheld, at a fairly solid 30fps either way. This is a marked improvement on the 720p/480p combo of the N.Sane Trilogy - which also suffered from slow down at times - and the game looks great for it.
Crash and the rest of the cast are full of life and expression, and the lush environments you visit in each dimension - from snowy mountains and prehistoric volcanoes, to tropical jungles and futuristic cities - jump off the Switch’s display with clear lines and bright colours.
The level design is consistently solid too, with the challenge scaling quite considerably by the end of the game. The way the Quantum Masks - characters that imbue Crash with certain abilities - are implemented throughout lends to some rather clever platforming sections, particularly once multiple masks start combining in the latter stages.
There’s been no content cut from the Switch version of the game either, and given how much of it there is, that’s another rather impressive feat. There are gems to collect, secret areas to uncover, skins to unlock, extra challenges to tackle, an entirely flipped N.Verted (mirror) mode, and of course, a plethora of boxes to smash. Add in the optional levels, time trials and multiplayer modes, and there’s enough content to keep you entertained for another 23 years.
Crashing The Party
Crash's latest adventure is a good-looking one
As to how it stacks up compared to some of the other platformers on Switch, well that kind of depends on your perspective. Our PS4 review was written by a long-time Crash fan and he had nothing but praise for the game, so it might be worth giving it a read if you too are a bit of an aficionado. As mentioned, the Switch port is fully in-tact so that should give you a good idea of what to expect.
If, like this reformed Nintendo fanboy, you’re relatively new to Crash though, the game can be a bit of a mixed bag.
Even though the story picks up where the third game left off, it’s still easy to follow for newcomers. The plot and characters are all easy to grasp, not least because of the excellent voice acting throughout (Cortex and his minions, in particular, are fantastic).
Hop, Skip, Wumpa
Where I struggled as a seasoned platform game veteran but first-time Crash player, however, was with the platforming itself. The manic marsupial is unbelievably floaty, and there were countless occasions where I felt like I’d died not because I’d misjudged the timing of a jump, but because Crash was just so unpredictable in the air.
In fairness to Toys For Bob, they have attempted to remedy this with an advanced shadow mechanic. A little yellow reticle appears to show you where Crash is going to land, but this feels like a tacit admission that what little physics guide Crash’s movement aren’t particularly reliable.
I daresay fiddling with the fundamental feel of the game would have had long-time fans up in arms, so I understand why changes haven’t been made. But I never felt truly confident in Crash’s movement, even by the time I rolled credits.
Considering how meticulously crafted the platforming challenges are, this made much of the game rather frustrating. For the record, I have no problem failing when it’s my fault. My initial playthrough of Celeste for example saw me rack up well over 2000 deaths, but I learned something from every single one of them, lessons that propelled me to persevere again and again.
Crash’s wild mid-air movements, on the other hand, made many deaths infuriating, and had me wanting to abandon the game entirely on more than one occasion. Playing Crash 4 off the back of Super Mario 3D World - another game that blurs the line between the second and third dimensions - made this lack of precision all the more stark.
Still, this is the formula that’s won Mr Bandicoot plenty of fans over the years, so I daresay keeping them happy has rightly taken precedence over platforming purity.
It may be late to the party, but the extra time for the Switch version of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time has not gone to waste. It’s an excellent port with the mountain of content contained in the initial release all present and correct. Long-time Crash fans will be more than happy with what’s on offer, a continuation of the series they love that introduces some excellent new ideas.
However, platforming fans new to Crash may find the way his movement echoes his wild personality rather frustrating.
Review copy provided by the publisher.Reviewed on Nintendo Switch