The success of 2017's Crash Bandicoot remaster created a whirlwind of excitement that is a little different than we normally see in games. It created excitement for the series, but people didn’t just want a new Crash Bandicoot game; they wanted a new Crash Bandicoot game that played like the old PlayStation 1 games. That’s exactly what developer Toys for Bob is delivering with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, a sequel that will hopefully feel like it was made decades ago.
Crash Bandicoot 4's story wastes no time retconing the series' mistakes. Through the magic of time travel, most of the Crash Bandicoot sequels never happened. This followup picks up right after the events of Crash Bandcioot: Warped, the last entry developed by Naughty Dog for PlayStation 1, with Neo Cortex, Dr. N. Tropy, and Uka Uka trapped on a faraway planet. In a clever narrative twist, this trio worked for decades figure out a way to tear apart the fabric of space-time to return to the past.
True to the games of old, Crash Bandicoot 4 is broken up into short levels with varying points of view – some are side-scrolling, others have the camera positioned behind Crash or Coco, and a few revisit that iconic Indiana Jones “chase” moment of sprinting toward the screen to avoid being crushed by something big (in this case a tyrannosaurs rex). In each level the player is tasked to leap over pits, spin through crates to gobble up mangos, and do what they can to take out or avoid Cortex’s forces. Following Naughty Dog’s push to deliver new locomotion tricks in each sequel, developer Toys for Bob is giving the bandicoots the abilities to rail grind, wall run, and rope swing.
Cortex is also a playable character in specific levels that are designed just for him. You’ll find these stages littered across the dimensional map. Cortex can’t jump like the bandicoots, but can dash quickly forward and use other devices to aid him along the way. Other characters are also playable, but they won’t be unveiled until closer to launch.
Another new wrinkle centers on the masks. In the past, Crash used Aku-Aku masks for protection. If he collected three of them in a level, he could turn invincible for a short period of time. in Crash Bandicoot 4, players will run into two new Quantum masks named Ika-Ika and Kupuna-Wa, both deal with time manipulation.
“In the classic games, once you touch a Nitro crates, you died,” says Paul Yan, Toys for Bob’s chief creative officer and co-studio head. “Using the Kupuna-Wa mask, she’s able to slow things down so much that you are able to touch a Nitro crates and escape the explosion. The player will need to be strategic to determine when to use that power to get past those crates.”
Yan also said that players are once again pushed to destroy every crate in the world (including TNT and Nitro) to unlock a gem. There will be more gems this time around, as well as secrets to unearth.
The scale of bosses is one area where Toys for Bob is going much larger than the original games, both in terms of the size of the enemies and the gameplay used to take them down. “We wanted to make these challenges humongous,” adds Yan. “The bosses in the past were rather short and confined. We wanted to add new layers and stages of difficulty and the little things we do to puzzle out boss vulnerabilities. We want you to travel greater distances to accomplish those goals.”
Toys for Bob is creating Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time as a love letter for fans of the old games. All of the things that made up the original trilogy have been analyzed, broken down, and expanded upon. Toys for Bob is developing this exciting sequel for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. When asked if the game could also travel to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, Yan hesitated for a moment, and then said “we’ll be talking about that at a future date, but for now it’s just PS4 and Xbox One.” We don’t have long to wait to return to the 1990s, as Activision and Toys for Bob are eyeing an October 2 release date for Crash Bandicoot 4.