In The Game: Crash Bandicoot 4, Bounty Battle

What’s better than a column with one game review? How about a column with TWO reviews? Don’t say we don’t give you your money’s worth.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

I had the unique pleasure of being sent a review copy of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time recently and, boy howdy, is it ever a lot of fun.

Now, the narrative through line for all the game articles I’ve done for BBP is that I am not very good at video games. Phrases like “punishingly difficult” and “not for me” seem to come up a lot. I’ve begun to ponder the deeper philosophical questions of review writing like, “Can one truly review a game they’re not good at?”

Well that’s all out the window now because I played some of Crash 4 and found it to be a very, very, very difficult video game that harkens back to the platformers of my youth.

Some background. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time came out just shy of TWENTY-TWO years after the franchise’s third installment. That’s pretty astonishing and it gives me hope for a MediEvil 3 to follow-up last year’s sublime remaster. To date, my experience with the original Crash games didn’t extend much beyond the PS1 demo disc that most likely came packed in with my first PlayStation. I did, however, play the ever-loving crap out of that one sample level and maybe even rented the game a couple of times.

I’m no expert but I think it’s exceedingly rare these days for a platformer to be a major release like this from a video game publisher (unless your name is “Nintendo”) and the genre has become more of the domain of indie publishers (with spectacular results). Crash 4 got me excited to see what could happen if big game studios start producing games like this and not just interactive movies with the odd quick-time event thrown in.

That being said, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is still incredibly cinematic in parts. The animation in the cuts scenes is on par with any big-budget animated film that you would see in movie theaters…back when those were a thing. The transitions from cinematic to actual game play were as smooth as some of the jumping puzzles were unforgiving.

As I mentioned above, I found the game quite difficult…and I loved it. It really did take me back to the days of playing the NES and having Mario die a senseless death all because I couldn’t stick the landing. Of course, then I’d start over at the last checkpoint and try again and again until I nailed the jump and felt the sheer exhilaration that came with it.

I personally sent Crash to his doom thirty-one times in one level…and it was great.

Bounty Battle

I also got a chance to check out Bounty Battle, here’s the blurb:

Bounty Battle is the ultimate indie fighting game: a new 2D fighter, where you can pit your favourite Indie heroes against one another! Indie heroes from games like Guacamelee! Dead Cells, Darkest Dungeon & more battle it out in this fighter frenzy. Bounty Battle features over 25 fighters from over 20 different Indie games! Each fighter comes with their own Minion companion and unique abilities. Battle across levels inspired from the fighters’ native game worlds with up to 3 other players.

I’ll address the pixelated elephant in the room first, “Is this game Smash Bros.?” No. “Does it need to be?” Also no. What the game does need is a bit more polish which I’m hopeful will come in the form of patches down the line.

When I initially played Bounty Battle on my Switch I just kind of jumped into it since I found the start up menu to be less than intuitive. On my second go around I actually managed to find the tutorial option and got more of handle on the controls which made the experience a bit more enjoyable. The various characters I played all felt fairly the same in terms of skill so they were largely interchangeable. Beyond Battlechasers, I wasn’t too familiar with the Indie characters that were used to make up the roster.

The “Minion” feature of the game was pretty interesting but I didn’t find myself utilizing it too terribly much. I also experienced some moments of slowdown that I had initially attributed to my Switch being underpowered but some other user reports I read reported similar glitches.

Bounty Battle is a little rough around the edges and has the potential to be okay if they can roll out some patches to the game in the future.

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