Crash Bandicoot has an interesting history with spin-off titles. Like Mario, the platformer received a cart racing and party game, both of which were surprisingly good. Much like the past, players questioned the idea of Crash Team Rumble due to it being an odd fit for the ever expanding competitive hero based multiplayer genre. Now that it officially released, will Crash Team Rumble prove players right, or is it another fantastic spin-off set in the quirky universe?
Unsurprisingly, Crash Team Rumble lacks a story mode. A brief cutscene introducing things, but outside of that players can opt to do a brief tutorial before stepping into the ring. Given these games can be brutal, I opted to play the tutorial and was surprised it suffered from the same issues as older fighting games.
Instead of explaining each and every character, or touching on the more nuanced side of things, Crash Team Rumble only explains the fundamentals. Break a boxes/walk over wumpa fruit to collect them, capture specific locations for bonus points, redeem relics to gain a boost, and finally stand on the capture point to actually score. It’s helpful, in the sense you won’t need to learn against opponents, though all of these things should make sense to anyone remotely familiar with capture the flag-esque games.
Oddly enough in-game explanations exist and can be found by examining each character. These pages are both extremely helpful and entirely useless. While it’s great to see written explanations of each attack, along with some of their downsides, several pages are missing key details, and locked characters can not be viewed. The last one is extremely important as this information can help new players deal with unknown threats.
Tutorial aside, gameplay varies based-off a variety of factors. Since this is a competitive game, it’s somewhat common to run into players that utilize arguably unenjoyable tactics. This is something like spamming Catbat’s dive or Dingodile’s tailwhip on the capture point. When used correctly, these moves can outright prevent anyone from banking for an extended period of time.
While this can be frustrating, most matches I played were more playful. Some people will focus on kills, a few defending, though there is nothing too bad. Well, besides the Gasmoxian Guard, which is used to lockdown specific points for extended periods of time.
It Really Should Be
When Crash Team Rumble matches are more playful it’s a surprisingly fun experience. A well timed confrontation can win the match, just like devoting too much effort to advantages will inadvertently set players up for failure. There are also a sizable amount of maps, each with their own gimmicks that keeps things interesting. Sometimes you’ll want to use relics, other times the big booster can turn the tides, whereas other maps they’re a pointless time sink. The dynamic nature keeps things fun, as every situation is different.
Even after multiple hours with the same eight characters I found myself wanting to play more. The previously revealed roadmap also suggests bright things for the future. Two additional heroes will help boost variety, as will weekend events.
I’m also delighted to see fun optional costumes. Tying this concept with Crash Bandicoot had the potential to make this very difficult, though there are plenty of fun designs. There are also unlockable options outside of the Battlepass, so long term there will be ways to showcase your style. That said, a lot of the customization options look off. An example of what I mean can be seen with Dr. N.Brio above.
Crash Team Rumble Review Verdict
Crash Team Rumble: Crash Team Rumble is far from perfect, but the current form is a lot of fun. Matches are quick without being too one sided. By utilizing certain mechanics, along with a good understanding of the mechanics can turn certain loss into a win. Unfortunately, I fear long term the community will adopt the more oppressive meta I'm already seeing, though I have hopes future characters/patches will help balance things. So if you're looking for a fun multiplayer game to play for a couple hours here and there I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. – Grant