Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X
June 20, 2023
Toys for Bob
It is I, Sonii Sonii! My duty is to review Crash Team Rumble for you! Yes, after our pal Crash Bandicoot returned with his Trilogy and a lovable yet difficult sequel, being summoned thrice has resulted in a very different title, where you get to play as virtually EVERYBODY he knows! Whoa!
It’s time to put your platforming AND fighting skills to crate effect because Crash Team Rumble is a whole new kettle of gummy shark, combining what we know and love about the Crash series with a MOBA of all things. Behold the League of Bandicoots! Dingodile Unite! Monday Night Cortex!… you get the joke.
Crash Team Rumble is all about multiplayer, a 4v4 title that has you trying to reach a score threshold before your opponents can, and there’s a myriad of ways you can go about this. Hang on to your detached eyebrows, cos this ought to be an interesting read!
The few, the proud, the unbalanced
Within your team of 4, you have a few different roles you can play, with each playable character specialising in different areas. For example, Crash functions as a scorer, built for quickly collecting wumpa and being able to fight back if getting picked on, but not being especially powerful. Contrast that to someone like Dr. N. Brio, a blocker whose main purpose is to try and prevent the opposing team from scoring by swatting characters like Crash away from their goal thanks to his strong melee capabilities, which is off-set by his lacking mobility. Either class can then be helped or hindered by booster characters like Coco, who are able to provide buffs like faster movement to their teammates, or create temporary obstacles for enemies.
It’s not the deepest system out there, but it’s a really great fit for the game, as you probably shouldn’t be bringing the kind of energy to this title as one might bring to say, League of Legends; there’s no need to remember a flow-chart of stats and such to maximise the potential of a character, simply practice with one you like and you’ll improve as you go.
From launch there are 8 characters to pick from, and some are actually locked away until you’ve completed some in-game tasks, requiring you to get some of the more straight-forward characters and gameplay principles covered before you can play as them. This approach works quite well, being less about replay value and more ensuring that everyone who plays doesn’t dive into the deep-end when they join the fray; when you see an N. Tropy blocking the way, you know they’ve earned the spot.
Bingo! Mutant DNA!
Now for those worried that Crash Team Rumble strays too far from it’s predecessors, be assured that this is first and foremost a Crash experience. You’ll still be running around crushing crates and leaping through lush environments, camera diligently following behind, all to some twinsane tunes. The catch is now you’re having to contend with other players doing the same thing and trying to do it better, which is of course your cue to show them who’s boss.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so too, with each arena having not just a distinctive look and layout but also unique powerups to help turn the tide in your team’s favour. Master the characters, master the levels, master the game… it’s enough to make your entire torso spin!
The good and bad kind of drip
While the glory of victory can be a motivator in and of itself, what’s really designed to bring you back for more is the cosmetics and other such unlockables, tied to both specific character progression and season passes. Playing well and completing certain tasks accumulates XP, which can then reward you with emotes, skins, and other little prizes to help customise your squad. This can certainly help bring you into that “just one more game” zone, but there is a fairly glaring issue with the title right now that will hopefully be resolved sooner rather than later.
For how charming and polished the experience is, there simply isn’t a whole load of actual content as of writing. The game can be heaps of fun, no doubt about that, but currently it’s much too easy for monotony to set in, as you’ll find the few present maps repeating over and over, with only one game mode in rotation as of launch. And yes, you can put in the work of unlocking the likes of N. Tropy or CatBat, but you’ll be doing that on those same maps in that same mode… now factor in a 100 level battlepass that requires you to keep playing to unlock all those cosmetics? If you aren’t someone who falls in love with the concept, be prepared for a slog.
Of course, we do have to factor in that Crash Team Rumble is meant to be a live-service title, and even the trailer above purported to be adding in new playable characters and modes in the near future. That however begs the question… what can players expect to see put into the game in return for their investment? It’s not like players of such titles haven’t been burned before…
That’s really what you need to ask yourself before getting into this title; is this going to be your next big thing, a blast to play that you’ll jump into right away? Perhaps it’s better to wait for a sale once the first content drop hits.
Loot crate or Lays bag?
That’s the tricky thing with live-service titles isn’t it, that no matter how good the idea seems, we can never be sure how much water they’ll hold. It may seem unfair to judge Crash’s latest outing in this manner, but such titles have earned players’ ire for a reason.
“For how charming and polished the experience is, there simply isn’t a whole load of actual content…”
As someone who genuinely enjoys the gameplay, and can hold her own as Coco at least, I will happily eat crow if Toys for Bob follow through and help this game thrive. Truthfully, there’s enough groundwork here to make a fantastic time-killer, especially if you’re able to co-ordinate a team effectively and not just flail with a team of 3 Crash’s.
The sad thing is, until we see that happen with some consistency, that’s still a fairly big if, and gamers have very much earned the right to be skeptical about these sorts of gameplay models. Anyone remember Dragon Ball: the Breakers? Yeah, same. Happy season 3, y’all.
Crash Team Rumble is far from a bad game, having been built on the bones of a solid platformer and introducing a new gameplay genre that’s certainly a surprise but still works surprisingly well within the franchise’s universe and mechanics. What it needs now is to actually be worth the price of admission, lowered though it may be, so that it can both take full advantage of the world it’s utilising and prove that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. For now, try to keep your crate expectations in check, but if we’re all pleasantly surprised, then I’ll happily see you in the League of Bandicoots!
- Handles perfectly à la Crash 4
- Every character is unique and easy to learn
- Fun environments and power-ups
- Lacks content as of launch
- Repetitive grind in order to progress
- Live-service model is risky
Crash Team Rumble is a solid foundation to work off of, taking what Toys for Bob built with Crash 4 and creating a new experience that can be a great deal of fun in short bursts, especially with friends, but currently lacks staying power due to a dearth of gameplay content beyond cosmetics that won’t be enough to bring everyone back for more. If the game can expand in the near future and break through the live-service curse, it could very well stand as another classic Crash title, but for now it may well be another piece of lost potential waiting to happen.