Crash Bandicoot 4 is delightful – and devilishly difficult

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Chris Schulz

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The first new Crash Bandicoot game in more than a decade will delight fans of the classic PlayStation platformer - but it will still drive you wild.

With his leather glove, baggy jeans and smug grin, my mutant bandicoot has successfully made his way past a series of wobbly rubbish bins.

He’s narrowly squeaked over a series of disappearing platforms, jumped over exploding boxes of TNT, and snuck past a pirate throwing bombs at him.

But it’s the sharks that get him. Over and over again, the hungry sharks bouncing up between concrete turrets keep gobbling him up.

During my time playing the astonishingly addictive, hugely nostalgic and devilishly difficult Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, I found myself stuck in exactly this kind of situation.

I’d get to a certain point, then find myself stuck, repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Crash 4

Some of the main characters in Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Photo/Activision

This feeling isn’t new. Back on the original PlayStation, 1996’s Crash Bandicoot and its quickfire 1997 sequel Cortex Strikes Again made gamers squeal with frustration over just how damned difficult it was.

Adhering to a classic platform formula, Crash never gives you a health bar. Make one mistake, and you’ll find yourself waking up way back at the last checkpoint, all of your hard work deleted by one ill-timed jump or spin.

Unfortunately, your opportunities to make mistakes multiplied the further you got into the game.

The N.Sane Trilogy, which remastered the original three games for new-generation consoles in 2017, only served to remind everyone just how difficult those original Crash games were.

I hated the N.Sane Trilogy. Maybe I’ve gotten soft, or perhaps games have become easier over the years.  Either way, I found it an absolutely infuriating experience, one I didn’t last long with.

Crash gets good at jumping in Crash Bandicoot 4. Photo/Activision

Crash 4 is not that. This is  an all-new adventure inspired by the original trilogy, one that uses the same formula and  characters.

Unlike the N.Sane Trilogy, it adds far better graphics, improved level design, intricately designed puzzles and free-flowing gameplay into the mix.

The result is the best Crash game yet. I honestly haven’t been able to put this down since I started playing it two weeks ago.

I’ve been deceived by acid-dripping spiders, and bitten by evil badgers. I’ve repeatedly fallen off disappearing bridges and been blown apart by TNT. I’ve splatted into spike-covered walls and been chomped up by sharks.

And every single time I’ve gone back for more with a grin on my face. It’s just that type of game.

Crash skates his way to freedom. Photo/Activision

Activision has had plenty of success with this kind of formula lately, recently rebooting its Tony Hawk skateboarding series with a remaster and reboot of the original two games that delivered plenty of nostalgic fun.

But Crash 4 goes one better, crafting an addictive, hilarious experience that tugs on the nostalgia heartstrings but still delivers a game that’s thrilling and infuriating in equal measures.

I honestly couldn’t recommend it more. My only advice is that when you’re asked if you want to play in “Modern” or “Retro” mode, you choose the former, which gives you more checkpoints.

Why punish yourself when there’s this much fun to be had in Wumpa-land?

  • Crash Bandicoot 4 is out now on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
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Chris Schulz

Chris Schulz has 20 years experience writing about New Zealand's technology and entertainment industries. He lives in Auckland.

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