Crash Team Rumble puts a modern spin on the pet platformer, and it just might work

Crash Bandicoot was born as a colorful platforming mascot iconic to its era, and has since been reinvented to fit other genres and moments in gaming history. He and his fellow wumpa fruit seekers have been given the Mario Party treatment in Crash Bash, participated in go-kart races on a number of occasions, and have even been dropped in an auto racer on mobile platforms. The latest appearance of the perma-smiling orange marsupial is once again appropriate for its timing, though it might be the most unexpected yet.

Crash Team Rumble is a 4v4 multiplayer game with a unique set of rules, and after a weekend with the beta, it seems to have a lot of potential. Rather than reimagining something familiar in Crash’s color palette, Crash Team Rumble finds its own competitive angle and match flow, and its depth of strategy invigorates it, even as I worry about its lifespan.

Players will join broadcast matches as familiar characters divided into one of several classes, such as goalscorers, defenders, and more. Similar to something like Overwatch, the full game will offer multiple characters in each class, with heroes and villains spanning Crash’s entire history on the roster. In the beta, only a small subset of the game’s full roster of heroes and villains, and their customizable abilities, was available, but it gave me an idea of ​​what to expect.

The main focus is on the wumpa fruit. You’ll pick them up as trucks that spin into place or pile up inside crates, as platformers have long featured, only here they don’t give you extra lives; instead, they earn points for their team. Each map is shaped by the story and aesthetic of the series and features objective platforms. You will carry your accumulated wumpa fruit to the finish line and, after a brief but deliberate delay, tally up the points. This basic setup makes CTR (no, no that CTR) easy to pick up, and from there, each additional layer adds to its subtly clever design.

In a good round, it’s never going to be as simple as moving your wumpas towards the finish line. It’s a quasi-arcade sport, so you’ll be standing in your way by the enemy team that has the same goal as you: get to the scoring ceiling first, giving each round a Capture The Flag pace. Learning when to attack and when to stay back and prevent enemies from scoring is a fun hurdle in the early hours of the game.

It’s a game best played with a communicative team, as arena maps will, at any one time, host multiple skirmishes in different areas. Drop your scoring opportunity to help a teammate out of a bind? Do they even want you to? You can hit enemies and they’ll drop some fruit, or you can even temporarily knock enemies out and they’ll lose everything, but the time to kill (which seems like an extreme phrase here, I’ll admit) is very long. And yet, I saw a handful of moments where opponents got so caught up taking each other out that they took their eyes off the ball, er, wumpa.

If you’re not directly scoring or defending, you’ll likely be working on improving your scorers with multipliers or unlocking abilities scattered around the map. Deployable traps like potted plants that behave like turrets and unlockable weapons like a spiked hamster ball that lets you move faster and damage enemies are there for the taking, but each unlocked ability requires a concerted effort, asking you to collect relics. instead of fruits.

It’s possible for you to finish a round without using additional weapons like these, but the winners will often be those who not only used them, but did so carefully. True Crash platformers feature some famously difficult levels, but here the difficulty lies less in the platforming than in executing a team’s game plan. It’s a refreshing way to see a character I’ve already seen in many different contexts over the past 20 years.

The winning team will usually be the one that shows the best teamwork.


Jumping, spinning, and ground-slamming are all available in each character’s repertoire, and are mapped to the controller just as any veteran of the series would expect. This gives each round a sense of familiarity, but the chaotic pacing and expansive arenas, each with clever elements of verticality on display, make it feel like other players have invaded a classic single-player Crash level. There’s something new there that I find exciting, and my feeling is that the rules and mechanics give Crash Team Rumble a Rocket League-like appeal. It’s not a sport, but it’s very sporty, and while Rocket League is the standard-bearer in that space, Crash Team Rumble is a game I’ll gladly try again when it arrives later this year.

However, I still have some reservations. A single beta weekend isn’t enough to tell me if the game holds up long-term, so I’m not comfortable capping it yet. Its broader appeal is also in question. With a confirmed battle pass system and an in-game store looking likely, CTR will need to lean on their unique matches to find an audience and keep them spending. Unlike so many other games with similar economies, CTR is not a free game.

In a year that has seen many fun but niche live service games disappearI’m concerned that Crash Team Rumble’s June 20 debut may be only a year or two away from its eventual closure. Between Fortnite and foreclosure, is there room for this bandicoot to thrive somewhere in the middle, to succeed where the Rumbleverse, Knockout City, and many others once tried? Does the game’s $40 price tag help it stay afloat longer with more money up front, or does its rejection of a free model used by games like this make it harder for potential early adopters to ask for? I’m afraid it’s the latter, which could have CTR in a tight spot early on.

Crash Team Rumble comes at a time when games of its size and stature are struggling to continue, even as there is a passionate community to champion them. With that comes a lot of questions, and we likely won’t get any answers until we see it in real time after the game launches. After the beta weekend, I strongly believe that Crash Team Rumble deserves a fair chance. I’m just worried that they’re hard to come by in today’s environment.

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