games / Previews

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (PlayStation 4) Demo Preview

September 30, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Crash Bandicoot 4 - 1

Author’s Note: This preview writeup for Crash Bandicoot 4 is based on a demo code provided by Activision.

Recently, I got the chance to finally get my hands on and play the early demo for Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. It feels like this long-awaited return to the mainline Crash game series was inevitable. It started with Crash appearing as a playable character in 2016’s Skylanders: Superchargers. Then, 2017 saw the release of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, giving fans some modern updates of the classic original three Crash games. Plus, Crash was also a recurring character on the Skylanders Academy animated series.

Based on this demo sampling so far, I like what Activision and Toys for Bob have done here, offering something that’s retro and nostalgic, but also fun and challenging. Crash Bandicoot 4 definitely has the play style and feel of the original games in the Crash series, when the series was still being developed by Naughty Dog. Ultimately, that’s a good thing. Toys for Bob did some good things with the Skylanders series, but it’s nice to see that they were willing to get out of their Skylanders comfort zone and emulate a more traditional Crash/Naughty gameplay style for this outing.

The first two Crash Bandicoot games were two of my favorites on the original PlayStation. It’s About Time definitely harkens back to that late 1990s, early 3D gaming era. The three stages in the demo operate in a format fans of the old Crash trilogy will find familiar. It’s a fairly linear forward or backward path. Crash has to use his classic spin attack to thwart enemies. Some he can jump on. Of course, you will want to try and bust as many fruit crates in the level as you can to get all of them. Plus, there are some hidden bonus stages as well.

The demo also allows you to switch between the retro or modern modes. Basically, they are like this version’s game of alternate difficulties. Retro mode is good for traditional gamers that want more of a challenge. With Retro mode, you have limited lives and continues after you die. Modern gameplay is far more forgiving, offering more checkpoints and basically unlimited lives.

Now, even without the retro gameplay mode, Crash 4 is fairly challenging. This is a platform game, but it’s one where you want to think about your moves about four moves ahead of time. Precision with your jumps and moves are crucial. Crash also does have a sliding move here, and you will want to anticipate when to slide and when to jump as you are getting chased by a giant T-Rex.

Dino Dash was easily my favorite level in the demo between the prehistoric theme, plus the dinosaur chases that are peppered throughout the level. The voodoo masks are also back, and there are appear to be multiple variations besides the traditional Aku Aku. I like that Crash can still gain that limited invincibility power if he collects three Aku Aku masks.

The demo also lets players try out the new Quantum Masks, including Kupuna-Wa and Lani-Loli. With Kpuna-Wa, you can briefly slow down time. This helps with crate busting and navigating through some hazardous obstacles and platforming. With Lani-Loli, you are able to phase and un-phase obstacles and boxes to pass through them, or make them tangible so Crash can bash them. Overall, I like the new Quantum Mask powers, and they all played like natural extensions of classic gameplay without seriously deviating from the traditional, iconic gameplay.

Overall, it’s great to finally have a new Crash game that looks and feels more like a classic Crash game. This looks like a game that fans of the original 1990s series can enjoy, while also introducing the franchise to new and younger players.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time hits the shelves on Friday, October 2. It will be available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro and the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X.