Bootlegs. Where the weird gets lazy and the lazy gets... really lazy. Bootleg games based on an existent franchise are usually a clear sign that it's going strong, since now there are people trying to make money off of it with unlicensed titles of very questionable (and unintentionally hilarious) content.
So begins our journey into the world of Crash Advance IV (whatever happened to the other 3 is a mystery for the ages). Created for the Game Boy Advance by a bootlegging company named Sintax, this game was first brought to the fandom's attention in the original Crash Mania forum back in 2006, after a user with the moniker Dingodile555 created a topic about it. His immortal words became destined to be repeated until the end of times:
My friend had a gba game called Crash Advance 4 and the controls were A to spin, B to jump. It had long and extremely difficult levels in it. He told me his aunt in Saudi Arabia sent him it but now he has lost and tells me he bought it in Game and the box had Crash holding a wumpa fruit in the cover. Has anyone else heard of this game?
The game is actually quite rare and, for the longest time, all we knew about it was the legend passed down from Dingodile555. It wasn't until 2015 that we finally got a good look at it in all its glory, thanks to our good friend and long-time Crash veteran Smaz Ugonih.
After acquiring the game through an eBay auction (along with the necessary equipment to play it), Smaz went through an insane amount of effort to dump the cartridge's ROM (in other words, create a file for anyone to play the game on an emulator). Despite all of his struggles, Sintax's games are heavily encrypted and can't be dumped by conventional means. To make things worse, the game just wouldn't start on genuine hardware, so it seemed like this fabled treasure wasn't meant to be uncovered.
And then one day, by some unexplained and miraculous twist of fate, Smaz decided to pop the game in one last time, and it actually worked! With no time to waste and knowing this could be his only chance of getting footage of the game in action, Smaz heroically set up his recording equipment (or at least as heroically as one might do that) and recorded the entire game from start to finish. The full video can be found below:
As expected from a bootleg, Crash Advance IV has very little to do with the franchise its creators were trying to leech money off. The visuals consist mostly of poorly adapted graphics from The Huge Adventure (a.k.a. XS) and N-Tranced, and it's also badly coded and extremely frustrating as a result. Speaking of frustrating, muting the game is a recommended measure when playing, thanks to an extensive soundtrack comprised of 3 repetitive tunes (interestingly, the main level music was copied from Soul Falchion, another bootleg game by another bootlegging company, thus completing the circle of life).
Contrary to the legend, the A button doesn't actually make Crash spin, but rather, lets him shoot blue Wumpa fruits at his enemies, which, thanks to the faulty programming, can be exploited to stay airborne. Another oddity (at least given the time this game came out) is that Crash has a health bar, replenished by cherries of all things.
There are only 4 levels in the game, all named in deliciously broken English: Dreamlike Watercity, Stray In Woods, Mistrey Desert City, and Roundabout Path. The second level features Tiny as a boss, who has become a teleporting god of lightning for some inexplicable reason. The final level has Dingodile, who... runs really fast from side to side. Riveting.
After defeating Dingodile, you're treated to a frame of Aku Aku from one of N-Tranced's cutscenes with the words "THE END" in a completely unfitting font. I couldn't think of a more appropriate ending to this masterpiece.
This concludes the tale of Crash Advance IV, the little bootleg that could. Perhaps it's best that the game is so elusive, for the world may not yet be prepared for its genius.