Crash Landing: The Long Wait for Crash 4
Crash Bandicoot: Warped came out in 1998. My constant dull back pain and need to grunt every time I sit down shows just how long ago that was.
Crash 4 came out last September – a little close to the launch of the new-generation consoles for comfort. Our very own Kevin Austin gave it an 8.5 at the time, but we all knew the real version would come to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
That port launched last week and a fresh review is in the works. But in the meantime, I thought we could take a bit of a spin down memory lane – and look at the surreal experience of playing a sequel 22 years after the last proper entry released.
I say proper because there have been 15 games and two remasters since Crash Bandicoot: Warped released in 1998. That doesn’t include his appearances in Skylanders or other media.
Some of those games were pretty good, even if just viewed through the lens of nostalgia. Others were awful. But by officially making Crash Bandicoot 4, developer Toys For Bob effectively rewrites history. They jumped in the time-twisting machine and took us to an era when gaming was simpler – but also hard as hell.
But unlike Sonic 4 – which tried to do its own thing, and not particularly well – Crash 4 revels in the nostalgia. It celebrates and respects everything that came before – and not just in terms fo the game world. Some bonus levels have VHS filters. Easter eggs are hidden all over the place. This is a game for people that love gaming, that were glued in front of the set in 1998.
They build instead of replace, which is exactly how this sort of project should be handled.
That does nothing for helping me handle my impending sense of adult nappies, blended food and screaming “WHAT?” at people on the bus. It’s tough being 31.
Warped Sense of Time
I kid of course. My midlife crisis is weeks away. But that doesn’t make it any less strange to return to something like this so many years after the fact.
It’s like unearthing new episodes of Batman: The Animated Series or discovering a thought-lost song from the Beatles. There’s a sense of continuation, of returning to a different time and place.
Unlike new episodes of Batman: The Animated Series or a thought-lost song from the Beatles, the biggest problem with Crash 4 is that it can kick my ass in a way Crash 3 never did. It’s been built with the challenge baked in, and you can’t just blame poor graphics or wonky controls like in 1998.
Music, tastes, smells – everything around us has the power to elicit emotions and memories. But what happens when part of a game’s development is to bake those emotions and memories in from the word go?
It’s an interesting experiment, and one that we see much more of in film than in video games. With the inevitable Spyro 4 likely to be announced before the generation is out, it’ll be fascinating to see it in action once more.