Battling the likes of the nefarious Dr. Neo Cortex or the hotheaded but impetuous Dingodile as the wily Crash Bandicoot are moments that have ultimately become timeless thanks to modern remakes of the classic PlayStation titles. Crash Bandicoot is just as relevant as ever 25 years or so after he initially peaked in popularity on Sony’s premiere console. Crash Bandicoot is known for being a dicey platformer. Seriously. The original title isn’t for the impatient or faint of heart. Still, the orange marsupial has fans spanning across multiple generations both young and old.
Now, Activision enlisted the development studio Toys for Bob to craft a wild multiplayer experience set in the Crash world. Crash Team Rumble is the result of their efforts. The real question, however, is whether it’s fun and engaging enough to pull in players for extended play.
"The controls handle just like any Crash Bandicoot platforming experience. You can run, double jump, and attack. From a control perspective, everything handles nicely and is tight and responsive."
Crash Team Rumble is a 4v4 strategy game that pits two teams of characters in an arena where they must collect Wumpa Fruit and deposit them in their respective team goals. The controls handle just like any Crash Bandicoot platforming experience. You can run, double jump, and attack. From a control perspective, everything handles nicely and is tight and responsive. As you collect Wumpa Fruit, you must deliver them to your team’s bank which is a circular blue pad. The first team to reach 2,000 Wumpa Fruit in their team’s bank wins. It sounds simple enough, but it is far more nuanced than you might expect, and strategy is everything. For instance, there are platforms containing gems. Teams can jump on these gems and attempt to hold them for a few seconds in order to capture them which results in a score boost for a period. Of course, the opposing team will likely be trying to knock you off of the gems and claim the boost for themselves.
To stir the pot even further, there are purple relics appearing all across the map. Collecting these relics is an important task given that they enable you to activate bonuses around the map. There are several minor relic stations that may require 8 relics to be deposited to activate. Their results might include effects such as enabling your team access to spikey roller balls or rocket-boosted jumps.
Then there’s one ultimate relic station on every map. This relic station requires several relics and players on any given team will have to make several trips depositing relics to activate it. But once activated, it’s a real boon for the team of the player who claims the station. The effect is different based on the map as it is unique to the map’s themes. For instance, Calamity Canyon’s ultimate relic station enables one team to summon a UFO that chases the opposing team around with a giant laser for a period. In the Just Beachy map, the unique relic station can summon Uka Uka who brings down a hail storm of fiery meteors that only affect the opposing team. Other maps include torrential upsets in their ultimate relic stations that include a tornadic sandstorm, drones that chase and attack the opposing team, and even a dragon. There are 10 maps at launch in total. So, that means there are 10 unique relic stations for you to discover. Keep in mind, that as you deposit relics into the station attempting to claim it, the other team may be trying to fill the meter on their end. Everything is a game of tug-o-war in Rumble.
"Everything is a game of tug-o-war in Rumble."
Collecting fruit is hardly you’re only motive here. Stopping the other team from scoring is equally just as important. This is where the “rumble” aspect of the title comes into play. If a player’s life bar is depleted from being attacked, they will respawn but they lose all the Wumpa Fruit and relics they were carrying. There are even specific classes of characters designed for different aspects of the game. Crash, Tawna, and Catbat are all considered Scorers. They move quickly and can hold a higher maximum of Wumpa Fruit than the other characters. Dingodile, Dr. N. Brio, and Dr. N. Tropy are all blockers. They have brute strength attacks that enable them to go to an enemy’s bank and be a royal pain for any opposition attempting to deposit fruit. Then there’s Coco and Dr. Neo Cortex who specialize in supporting the team. They’re known as Boosters. They are able to capture gems for score boosts quicker and snag more relics for those game-changing relic stations. Despite the fact that these characters are designed for specific roles, they can still score, block, or retrieve boosts like all the rest. Your selected character just might not be as efficient as the other tasks other than the one designed for them. Each character also has their own attack patterns. Just because Crash and Tawna are both Scorers, that doesn’t mean they do the exact same attacks. Toys For Bob ensured that each character is unique in their individual performances and abilities. Players will no doubt find their favorites and latch on to them. The characters do feel rather balanced from both an attack and movement perspective. Dingodile might be slow and plodding, but he packs a wallop of a tail whip. Where Crash lacks in strength, he makes up for in speed.
With that said, strategy comes into play right from the get-go before a match even begins. While in the lobby, it’s important to even out the team. If you have a team full of Crashes, they might have an awfully hard time scoring if the other team employs the brute force of a character like Dingodile. Even though you might have a favorite character, it may not always be the best choice given what the rest of the team has selected. Aside from the character, you also have the opportunity to select a Power. This Power is separate from the character and it charges up throughout the match. The quickest way to charge your power is to perform the task your particular character class is assigned. For instance, if you are Crash (a Scorer), collecting Wumpa Fruit and scoring will speed up the charge on your power.
So, what powers can you select from you might ask? Well, you can summon a Flytrap plant that spits at enemies within range. Or you can bring down a locker that heals you or your teammates within a certain radius. Based on my experience, a current fan favorite seems to be the Gasmoxian Guard. Players with this power can summon this beast to induce shock attacks in a contained area. Popular Strategies are to plant this beast on enemy banks so guard inherently blocks the other team from scoring for a short period. Additionally, you can plant him on your own bank to keep enemy players from jumping on to block you from scoring. Or maybe, both teams are extremely close to depositing enough relics in the ultimate relic station that you wish to close the deal by placing your guard on this station keeping enemy players off it for a period while you obtain the remaining relics you need. There are many ways to strategize even the use of one simple power. This wild card is just another layer in this chaotic thrill-ride.
"Each of the 10 maps inspired by the world of Crash Bandicoot are rather exquisite."
Each of the 10 maps inspired by the world of Crash Bandicoot are rather exquisite. Most of the maps contain a significant level of verticality and they still require players to run, jump, and smash crates just like the platforming Crash titles of yesteryear. Of course, they’re inspired by the various locales of past Crash games and are just as colorful and fantastical as one could expect. From a gameplay standpoint, Crash DNA is strong despite this being an online player-versus-player structured game. Each locale is as colorful and wild as the one before it. Once you begin learning the maps, the real fun begins as you can strategize your collection patterns and modes of attack more efficiently.
From a progression perspective, players can level up each of the characters and earn character-specific rewards. Additionally, there is a Battle Pass that everyone who purchased the base game has access to. Future Battle Passes will likely cost you just like any other title. All of these rewards seem to be totally cosmetic, however. It’s clear, the way the game is structured, that Activision and Toys for Bob plan to bring more content to the title by way of maps, characters, and Battle Passes. Progression seems quick, but the Battle Pass is lengthy. There’s enough there to keep players engaged for quite some time during a “season” (if that’s what they’re calling it). Future support of the game with enticing rewards, events, accolades, and Battle Pass content will ultimately determine whether players are inclined to keep returning for the long haul. With several customizable options for each character, however, it shows promise.
As an online-only title, one element that is of utmost importance is the quality of matchmaking. Rumble keeps things simple. At the main menu, you either select to play online or start up a private match. Selecting the former instantly puts you into matchmaking for the game’s one and only mode. In my experience, matchmaking has been rather quick with no hiccups. I’ve always been placed in a match with full teams within a matter of seconds. For what the game is – a singular mode – the matchmaking is quick and efficient.
With all that said, Crash Team Rumble is fun and far more engaging than a game with this premise has any right to be. If you would have explained the basis of this game to me a year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that this could be engaging and successful. But I’m genuinely surprised at how much fun there is to be had. There’s a real competitive edge to the gameplay that hooks me match after match. My only true complaint is that the game still feels like its lacking content. This mostly boils down to the game mode offering. The one and only game type is solid and fun, but it a little more diversity as far as game modes, events, or even slight adjustments to the current mode would go a long way. For instance, a mode totally focused on controlling relics and assaulting the other team might be a fun twist that shakes things up a bit. The game has great potential for future modes, iterations, and various content, however. While I have had a great time with Crash Team Rumble, only time will tell as to whether my engagement wanes playing the same game mode on repeat. For now, however, I’ll see you in the arena collecting that sweet Wumpa Fruit.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Fun, strategic gameplay; Excellent map design; Smooth platforming controls.
Only one game mode – not enough meat on these sturdy bones.