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Letters from the Front

22 years. It has been 22 years. It took 22 years to get here, but Crash 4 is a glorious return to a classic franchise of our childhood youth and a return to a mascot that defined our growing up. With the recent release of the Crash trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, it’s become clear that there’s still a lot of love for the legendary 90’s mascot amongst the gaming community. And it helped that both remakes were handled with great care, as well.

As with anything; a question particularly arises when it comes to sequels, reboots, remakes is that if it was really necessary. Some things are better left in the past, tucked away under the cupboard to be forgotten forever as a remanent of a particular time and place. Thankfully, Crash 4 is a win and Crash Bandicoot is a mascot that we need for the present day and I’m happy that he has returned to grace our screens for another set of games.

The linear-platforming that made Crash so iconic in the 1990s is just as enjoyable today as it was then. Shifting between platforms and 2D / 3D objects, along with grinding on rails, might not be as ambitious as some other games but it’s far more refined and focused. The levels can often present more of a visual flair up as well, there’s so much detail packed into each level that it’s almost a shame to just run through them. From the world map to running and jumping, it is overtly simplistic and familiar but it has enough here that it keeps things fresh and difficult… sometimes too difficult at times. Don’t let Crash fool you; this game is brutal but it always feels fair which is nice.

In Crash 4, Crash and his friends must stop a plot to alter time and space. They will need to harness the power of the Quantum Masks in order to save the world from N. Tropy, Dr. N. Gin, Dr. N. Brio and Dr. Neo Cortex who are trying to harness the dimension-altering abilities of the masks in order to do evil. It isn’t just Crash who you can play as, you can play as 5 of his friends who bring something new to the table. While Crash and his sister Coco operate almost identically; it’s Tawna, Dingodile  and Neo Cortex who bring their unique abilities to platforming. Tawna’s grappling hook lets you pull yourself towards faraway platforms, Dingodile’s vacuum can suck up TNT which you can fire at enemies, and Neo Cortex can use his ray-gun to turn foes into platforms to spring off. It’s a great refreshment to play as these characters which makes the universe open up a little bit, instead of playing as Crash all the time.

Toys for Bob has made some quality life improvements to the game. You can now choose between Modern and Retro modes before you begin the game and I highly recommend Modern. Modern gives you unlimited attempts at a level, but shames you by recording how many times you’ve died, while Retro is for the OGs who enjoy collecting lives and being punished when they die.

Graphic wise, Crash 4 is an absolute stunner of a game. While not as good looking as some of the other games, it is a proper current generation game. The graphics are smooth and incredibly detailed; lighting is exceptional; the color scheme is attractive and isn’t too bright but bright enough. When it comes to immersion and world building, Crash does it right with the small little details that counts: whether it’s a few scuttling rats, a flickering light behind a window, the details on a wooden ship, everything feels like it matters, even when it doesn’t. Crash and Coco alongside most of the cast has been upgraded; Crash and Coco now have facial animations and reactionary body movements.

Crash 4 is a masterful platformer that succeeds in every possible way. It is a reminder of why Crash is so popular and so iconic, a legendary mascot of those halcyon PS1 days 22 years ago. Stay tuned for my review.

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