Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Nintendo Switch Review – That’ll Do Bandicoot, That’ll Do

The Nintendo Switch is not the optimal way to play Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, but then you could say that about practically any game not designed exclusively for the Switch in the first place. If you want the portability – or just prefer the Switch as your console of choice – Crash Bandicoot 4 is still well worth getting, as most of the downgrades are visual rather than functional, with the game porting over surprisingly well.

Having played Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time at release on the PS4, my biggest gripe in terms of functionality was the long load times. These weren’t terribly long when moving to a new level or after death, but on a time trial they were horrendous. The way to beat a time trial is to try, try, and try again, all while finding the level’s internal rhythm. They’re the ‘how do you get to Carnegie Hall?’ of platformers. Long load times disrupt that, and either make life much more difficult for players, or put them off entirely. Thankfully, a patch fixed this on the PS4, but I was concerned this problem would repeat with the Nintendo Switch. Rest assured – it doesn’t. The load times aren’t as lightning fast as the new-gen’s split-second restarts, but they’re significantly faster than the PS4 at launch and no longer feel invasive.

After the loading, my second fear around Crash 4 on Switch was just how busy the game gets, especially towards the end. The Switch is more than able to handle the hectic action on screen though – but admittedly the graphics take a hit across the board to accommodate this. It’s also worth noting that the most chaotic sections are incredibly difficult to pass with Joy-Con, especially with drift. The game runs fine in handheld mode, and I bounced between handheld and docked-with-a-Pro-controller throughout to test both styles out. Up until the final few levels, I didn’t really have a preference, but I’m not sure I’d have beaten the last few stages with Joy-Con alone.

The biggest downside is the graphics, and even there, it’s manageable. Crash is not a game with gorgeous vistas that extend onwards forever; most of the action is right in front of you in fluffy cartoon goodness. On Switch, it kind of looks like you’re playing the game through a thin cloud of smoke. The coloration is slightly dim, the details are a bit hazy, and everything has weird grey speckles covering them like shadows. Performance-wise though, that’s the worst I can say about it, and the smokiness doesn’t bother me anyway.

Maybe you never picked up Crash 4 initially though, and you’re not too concerned about how the game compares to other versions, you just want to know what it’s like on the whole – in that case, I have very few complaints. It’s not as good as Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (but what game is, amirite?), but it deserves to consider itself a sequel to the original Naughty Dog trilogy. It pays homage to the classic platforming tropes that the original helped cement in the genre, but takes advantage of the new tech while making it more accessible to newcomers.

You could argue this is the hardest Crash game ever, but that’s a description that lacks nuance. It is difficult, but there’s no game over. Your deaths rack up, and you get rewards for not dying at all or for dying less than three times, but there’s no punishment if you die 600 times. 234 was my record, and I can’t blame Joy-Con drift for all of them. It’s very difficult, but also impossible to fail, which strikes a perfect balance with the appeal of platformers.

This balance is not as perfect elsewhere, however. With six gems per level (and another six through the N. Verted twists on each level), there’s a lot to sink your teeth into as a completionist, but it’s all a bit overwhelming. Almost every level has over 100 boxes, peaking at 500, meaning even paying close attention to crates and doubling back is rarely enough to get them all. It’s still played in a linear fashion instead of the more open Spyro model, but there’s always some mini path with 23 hidden boxes around a corner – it can get a little old. The blue gem is also just behind Stormy Ascent in my list of ‘hardest things in a Crash game’, so have fun!

The new masks bring new powers like slowing down time or spin gliding, and the fantastic level design works well to show off the uniqueness they bring to the game. As well as Crash and Coco, you also get to play as Cortex, Dingo, and an alternate universe version of Tawna but of those three, only Tawna is worth writing home about. However, her sections are so good they make up for the duds; Cortex especially is a let down there.

The boss battles are phenomenal once again, and the only area where the game comes close to eclipsing the original trilogy. It also borrows the warp room idea from Crash 2 and 3, but with the linear level approach of the first game. It’s a shame you don’t get to pick and choose what order to go in, and it also means you have to play through a lot of the same theme in a row. As the title suggests, the game is about time, but so was Warped and it feels like there’s less creativity here. A lot of the settings feel like the modern day, rather than exploring historical settings – even when they do delve into the opportunities time offers, they pick settings we’ve seen before. The Jurassic era, the Golden Age of piracy, a futuristic metropolis… these are good settings, but they were good when Warped had them. It feels like a missed opportunity.

Added to that, many of the fan favourite level styles have been taken out for traditional platforming. There’s no jetpacks, no racing, no jet skis, no blimp battles, no swimming, no dark levels, and nothing new to replace them either. It’s a great modern take on the ‘90s platforming, but it’s more streamlined than I’d like.

Overall, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time on Nintendo Switch is well worth picking up if you liked the version that came out on console earlier this year and want a portable copy. It holds up very well on Nintendo’s system, and springs a few surprises with how well it handles everything. As for newcomers, this is probably as close to Warped as we’re going to get, so classic Crash fans should grab it too, even if it’s not quite Crash with all the trimmings.

Score: 4/5

A Nintendo Switch code for Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was provided to the TheGamer.com by the publisher.

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  • Game Reviews
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey

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