The Crash, the Crash, the Crash is back, stone cold sober as a matter of fact. After a sensibly masked-up Crash Bandicoot hand-delivered the trailer to "Gee-off Kay-lay," we can finally look forward to a brand new, built-from-the-ground-up Crash Bandicoot game.
After years in the wilderness, the success of both the N. Sane Trilogy Remaster and the Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled Remaster have provided a strong foundation for Crash to move forward, and all we can say is: It's about time.
But is it coming to PC? That hasn't been announced yet, but here's what we know so far.
Here's our first quick look at gameplay
IGN has a short gameplay walkthrough that you can check out right here.
What's Crash 4's release date?
It's About Time is slated for October 2nd and is available for pre-order on consoles right now. If you pre-order it digitally you'll unlock a set of 'Totally Tubular' skins for both Crash and his sister Coco, which have a funky '80s vibe to them, possibly playing on the time travel theme. A reference to Back To The Future, or a hint at a new '80s theme for some levels this time around? Both? Neither?
The original trilogy avoided more contemporary settings for historic, fantasy, or futuristic elements, so it's unlikely they'll actually give us an '80s level, but we can always hope.
While we've seen quite a few games delayed in 2020, Crash 4 has been in development for a long while, October 2nd isn't too far away, and it seems almost ready to go. A delay at this point seems unlikely.
Wait, Crash 4? Shouldn't it be… more?
Well, yes and no.
This will technically be the eighth main series Crash game, ignoring the Game Boy spin-offs, racing, and party games in between. Technically they stopped numbering at Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, but even that game was unnumbered outside of Europe.
Importantly, this game promises to be a direct sequel to the N. Sane trilogy (the original three games), meaning everything which came after that is now officially non-canon. On the plus side, that means the story can move forward with purpose, the tribal tattoos have been erased forever and we're sticking with the straight line level design Crash has always thrived with. On the downside, it means Crunch, N. Trance and Nash are no longer canon.
One of the new masks (more on them later) does make a tongue-in-cheek reference to this soft reboot in the trailer, asking "how many times have you beaten this clown anyway?" and telling Coco it "feels like more" when she replies "3," so perhaps we shouldn't write off everything post-Warped yet.
Where can I watch the trailer?
We'll go through all of the most interesting elements of the game below, including some of the new things introduced, changes they've made from the N. Sane Trilogy and the levels themselves.
Crash is such a frenetic game, though, you really need to see it moving in order to 'get' it. In the trailer, we get a huge overview of It's About Time's characters, boss battles and levels, which have kept the traditional straight level design of the original trilogy.
Oh, and it's all set to Fatboy Slim's The Rockafeller Skank, the legendary Digimon Movie soundtrack hit released in 1998, the same year as Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Definitely not a coincidence.
What kind of levels will there be?
We've seen previews of quite a few so far, and they seem to be as varied as ever. There's a handful which clearly riff on what the N. Sane trilogy offered, and others which seem brand new. There's set to be 100+ levels, which is more than the N. Sane Trilogy combined, too.
There's your 'run away from the dino level' a la Dino Might!, a sci-fi style level like Future Frenzy, a surfboard adventure like Hang Eight, and new takes on the underwater, snow and sewer levels, plus what looks like a pirate themed hub.
We can breathe a huge, Crash Of The Titans-sized sigh of relief at the design here, because Toys For Bob have promised it'll be the more linear level designs we know and love. A lot of modern platformers go open world and become "more focussed on collection," with enemies and set pieces spread out, Toys For Bob's Paul Yan told Geoff Keighley at the Summer Games Fest. Crash, however, has always been "more dense," and so it shall remain.
Yan also talked about the importance of learning a level's rhythms inside out, so expect some tricky challenges in the later throes. Hopefully nothing quite so sadistic as Stormy Ascent or The High Road though.
What's this about new designs?
Despite the almost universal popularity of the fresh coat of paint given to Crash and the gang in the N. Sane Trilogy, Toys For Bob have slightly reinvented everyone here. Some, like Cortex, just seem to have a new artstyle with the same design, while Coco has had a bigger overhaul.
Toys For Bob took a similar approach with the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, largely keeping Spyro, the Professor, and Ripto the same but completely overhauling Elora, Sheila, and Gnasty Gnorc, as well as making the generic crystal dragons of Spyro 1 all completely unique. The reception to those changes was mixed, and the reception to the new Crash designs so far feels similar, with some happy to see a move forward and others pining for the N. Sane designs which worked so well in both N. Sane and Nitro Fueled.
Any new characters?
Definitely. There's four new masks which all have different powers, but we only know of two of them so far; Kapunua and Eeka-Eeka. They offer new power-ups we'll explore in a bit more depth below. Yan also told us there'll be "bosses, both familiar and new," so look out for changes there. We've seen Cortex and N. Gin in the trailer, while Yan mentioned N. Tropy and Uka-Uka, so they're all returning.
We also caught a glimpse of an angry, mystic giant chasing Crash and Kapunua down a corridor, as well as funky Daniel Fortesque character, who may be a new boss or just a high ranking enemy.
We don't know whether Tiny Tiger, Dinodile, Ripper Roo or the rest will be back, nor do we have a clue on the post-Crash 3 characters. Merchandise with Tawna Bandicoot has been leaked, so it appears she's returning for the first time in a non-spin-off game since Crash 1. Tawna was an incredibly popular part of Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, as were her fellow trophy girls, so that could influence the direction It's About Time goes in as well.
What do these new powers mean?
There are four distinct power-ups, but so far we only know two. Eeka-Eeka has been out in the wild for a little while now, first spotted in a general PlayStation advert swarming around behind Crash in his Nitro Kart. The new trailer was the first time we saw what it could do, however.
Eeka-Eeka is a round white gravity mask that allows Crash to float to the ceiling to either collect boxes and wumpas, avoid enemies, or both. It appears that, much like the invincibility granted by three Aku-Aku masks, Eeka-Eeka's powers only last for a limited time.
Kapunua is a little different. Longer, closer in design to Aku-Aku but an icy blue, it can slow down time. This power can be turned on and off, and was used in the trailer to allow Crash to jump on rapidly falling icicles across a cavern. It'll also allow you to set off Nitro Crates like they're TNT, rather than the instant death touching them would usually bring.
We have no idea on what the other two might be, but we do know that, like the powerups in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, you unlock them by defeating bosses, so it may be that certain gems can't be collected until you loop back later with new masks in your arsenal.
So, It's About Time?
That's right. Not only is it definitely about time we had a bonafide new Crash (3 years since the N. Sane Trilogy, 12 years since the last full release, 22 since Warped), but the very game is about time. While Warped relied on N. Tropy's power of time travel, It's About Time takes place after N. Tropy, Neo Cortex and Uka-Uka were banished from the planet. On their way back, they've opened up the multiverse and have unlocked once again the power to leap forwards and backwards in time.
With multiverses in play, could we see a link to Glimmer or Avalar for Spyro to join in the fun? Will Gasmoxia introduce Oxide into the canon fully? Honestly… maybe. One piece of key art shows a non-Oxide Gasmoxian, but whether the man himself will appear is unknown. A Spyro reference is pretty likely, but it's expected Activision will be putting out a new Spyro in the next couple of years in an adventure of his own, so it'll just be a Fake Crash style background gag rather than anything more meaty.
How does it play?
As well as the linear level styles and the powers, we've also learned something of the way Crash feels. His running now has a slightly bouncier rhythm, much like Spyro's gallop. Fun fact: Spyro's running style was modeled after a Shetland pony.
We've also learned that we can play as both Crash and Coco interchangeably, and—much like in the N. Sane Trilogy remaster—they share the same moveset. This time around Cortex is playable as well. His style of play is more "cerebral," with his ray gun able to "transmogrify enemies and hazards into platforms," which feels like a great way to stay true to the original feel of the game while freshening it up.
N. Gin's boss battle was teased too, and just like the robot battles of his N. Sane days, this time around he's controlling a giant metal drummer while Crash avoids Guitar Hero style attack waves. Beats U2's lemon any day.
As well as the more bouncy movement from Spyro, the rail grinding looks like it takes cues from both Ratchet & Clank and Sonic Forces, while the vine monsters have an alien Jak & Daxter vibe to them. Crash 4 looks set to be the platformer's platformer.
What platforms is this platformer on?
So far it's been announced for Xbox One and PS4, but the Xbox box art also says it's optimised for the Xbox Series X; the PS4 one makes no such claim about the PS5, so we'll have to wait and see there.
PC and Nintendo Switch were conspicuous by their absence, but this is par for the course. The N. Sane trilogy came out for PS4 in July 2017, but didn't hit Xbox, PC or Switch until July 2018. Meanwhile, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy (also made by Toys For Bob) was released on PS4 and Xbox One in November 2018, but took until September 2019 for PC and Switch. Then there's Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, which landed on PS4, Xbox One and Switch in June 2019, and is yet to come to PC but has been heavily rumored for some time now.
Following these patterns, it's likely that Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time will be on Switch and PC by around October 2021.