Few things betray our rose-tinted memories like revisiting a beloved 3D platform game from the '90s. Rare exceptions notwithstanding, these once revolutionary experiences – responsible for making many of us life-long fans of the medium – now look and play like relics.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time gives life to our nostalgia-clouded recollections of the classics, allowing us to relive the magic we think we remember from 25-plus years ago. It checks all the genre-defining boxes, from its anthropomorphic star and candy-coloured graphics to its acrobatic action and over-the-top boss battles. But more than delivering everything we loved about these mascot-driven romps, it fixes the flaws that have seen them age so poorly – gone are the clunky controls, cumbersome cameras, and janky graphics.
The marsupial's return doesn't stop at simply bringing the technical stuff up to contemporary standards, though, as its developers have also crafted a gorgeous game, packed with clever levels, inspired enemy encounters, and fresh tweaks to the genre's formula. The latter includes magical masks which change the rules of the game, granting powers, such as the ability to slow time, reverse gravity, and phase objects in and out of existence. When coupled with its more imaginative landscapes, these powers can make navigation feel as novel as it did the first time we donned Mario's Tanooki Suit.
Crash 4's platforming is as good as it gets.
When all its stars – or wumpa fruit – align, Crash 4's platforming is as good as it gets, in this generation or any other. Some of that luster is lost, however, during its more maddening stretches. It offers both modern and retro modes – with the former granting unlimited lives – but while this option mitigates much of the frustration that comes with mid-level deaths, it won't keep you from pulling your hair out when Crash repeatedly fails to stick a crucial landing.
If you can overcome the occasionally uneven difficultly, literally and figuratively, you're in for a treat. Crash 4 brings our best memories of platform gaming into sharp focus, retaining and refining classic elements, while polishing and innovating to deliver an experience that'd previously only been available in our nostalgia-nourished dreams.
Buy now from Amazon on PS4__.