How Crash Bandicoot 4’s “Flashback Levels” Will Provide the Ultimate Challenge

Credit: Activision, Toys For Bob

When we first spoke about the upcoming Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, I discussed a supposed GameStop leak that noted over 100+ levels to play. A few weeks later with the reveal of an additional playable character (Dingodile) as well an entirely new game mode called ‘N. Verted Mode’, it began to seem like that promise of over 100 levels could indeed be true! Well here we are – post Gamescom 2020 – and we just got a reveal of yet another new game mode coming to Crash Bandicoot 4 titled ‘Flashback Levels’. Though the existence of Flashback Levels does a lot more than just simply add to the already impressive amount of content coming in Crash Bandicoot 4!

Based on the B Roll gameplay we got along with how these levels are unlocked, Flashback Levels (aka Flashback Tapes) will provide some of the toughest puzzles you’ve ever faced as well as explore some pretty unfamiliar territory for the Crash series! So let’s take a look at the footage and then discuss how these challenges are unlocked as well as how they work!

If you’re wondering why this looks like you’re watching an old VCR or why it says January 1, 1996 on the bottom right of the screen, that is because these levels are literally flashbacks. They are meant to be recordings of the initial tests Dr Neo Cortex put Crash and Coco through – thus the alternate name ‘Flashback Tapes’. These are from the time when they were still his ‘experiments’ – note how the date is prior to the original Crash Bandicoot release date (September 1996). As such, these tapes/ levels actually have a lore purpose and – according to Producer Lou Studdert – will explore the rare moments in time when “Cortex is really excited about the prospect of Crash being on his team”!

Though these Flashback Levels aren’t just a simple set of challenges awaiting players from the get go. If you want a chance to try your skills at these incredibly challenging puzzles – and I do mean challenging – you have to first prove yourself by claiming them within the game’s main levels. Now a ‘secret collectible’ might not seem challenging at first; but it should be noted that finding these tapes will serve as part of a new incarnation of ‘Death Routes’.

Death Routes were part of the original series where the path forward in a level diverged. If you made it to this part of the level without any deaths, you could take an alternate route forward. On this route, there’d usually be more rewards, but also much greater challenges. So if you want to get one of these Flashback Tapes, you have to first make it through one of these gauntlets. Though once you do, the true challenge begins as Flashback Levels will not only test your puzzle solving skills but also your mastery of the controls.

As we can see from the test footage, there are multiple sections where jumps are like threading a needle. Drifting too far to one side or going too high will make you collide with a precariously placed Nitro Crate. Though just making it to the end isn’t enough as each level appears to require you to have broken a certain number of crates to actually ‘complete’ the level. That is why – even though this term isn’t usually used for platformer genre games – I’d consider these challenges true “End Game” content!

There’s plenty more to uncover in this test footage as we not only see the introduction of a new type of ‘limited-jump’ crate but also tons of little Easter Eggs – one of which is Spyro related! Canadian Guy Eh did a wonderful analysis over on Youtube already; but there’s no telling how many more can be found – or if they’re simply Easter Eggs or teasing even more gameplay aspects to come! Guess we’ll find out when Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time releases on October 2nd for PS4 and Xbox One.