I never expected there to be a competitive multiplayer Crash Bandicoot game, let alone enjoy it, yet here we are. From the outside, Crash Team Rumble sounds like a terrible idea. Let’s take these beloved platforming mascots, and put them in an arena to duke it out over Wumpa fruit, with a Battle Pass and individual characters leveling up and unlocking things as you go. In practice, however, it’s a shockingly good time.
Crash Team Rumble has a single game mode, in which you can play Competitive, in a private match, play against bots (always appreciated), or go through the tutorial. In every match your goal is the game, bank 2000 Wumpa fruit before the other team does. Teams consist of four players in three soft roles: scorer, booster, and blocker. Scorers focus on collecting Wumpa and bringing it back to the bank. Boosters activate gems to give a bonus to Wumpa banked and collect Relics to activate power pads. Finally, Blockers are supposed to defend your bank and prevent the other team from scoring. Characters in a role are geared towards their goal, but anyone can do anything.
Scorer and blocker have three characters each, while boosters only have Coco and Cortex to choose from. Before a match begins, you’ll choose your character and their ultimate. You unlock both as you play, but with ultimates there’s a clear best choice: the Gasmoxian Guard. This big guy will stand wherever you put him, occasionally electrocuting the area around him. You can use this to defend a spot, but the current meta seems to be using him to prevent the enemy team from scoring. It can be fun to plop him down to get a quick lead or catch up in points, but when he’s constantly popping up is where things start to get frustrating.
I love the amount of freedom CTR gives you in matches, but it also means the fun of any particular rumble is determined by your teammates. When everyone is evenly matched and your team is working together, this can be a ton of fun. On the flip side, if you can tell your teammates skipped the tutorial, just want to play team deathmatch, or just don’t know what they’re doing it can be very annoying. I don’t want this to come across as a knock on the game itself, but this is a factor to be considered in a multiplayer only game.
This is a game best enjoyed in a team of players you know on voice chat. You can call things out, make suggestions, coordinate character picks, and more. There’s no in-game voice chat, which is probably for the best as this is a kids’ game, but if you don’t have people to party with there’s a very handy ping system. Pressing R1 will alert your teammates of where you are and that you need help, but holding the button and aiming with the camera you can target specific objects in the stage. Marking these will also issue their own unique commands such as unlocking a power with relics or telling everyone to drop off their Wumpa at the bank. It’s still up to your team to actually listen to you, but you’re not totally helpless to communicate.
When it works, it’s incredibly fun with a deceptive amount of depth. Let’s say you’re playing as Crash, a scorer, and in your last match you find you’re having trouble getting Wumpa around the stage quickly. You could swap to Tawna and use her grappling hook to move a lot faster, but at the cost of being able to stun enemies with Crash’s belly flop. If the next stage is more vertical than others, you could also consider Catbat (who’s non-binary!) as they can jump multiple times in the air, but have low health and attack power.
Every character has pros and cons that you need to consider based on the stage and who your teammates pick. Dingodile is sturdy and powerful, but N-Brio can deal huge bursts of damage if he can drink his monster potion. Coco is super mobile, but Cortex can stay at range if he needs to defend himself. You can tell Toys for Bob thoughtfully considered each character and the roster as a whole. Before playing the game I had trouble conceptualizing what a multiplayer Crash like this would even be, but somehow the developers nailed the platformer/team based gameplay on the first try. It feels like Crash, both in style and game feel, but something totally new as well.
Despite only having the one mode, there’s a ton of variety in how each game plays, mostly depending on the stage. Every level has a few types of power pads also called Relic Stations, with one near the center usually acting as a super of sorts. For example, in Rusted Refinery, the Relic Stations are Flame Trap, which turns on flamethrowers near the bank, Explosive Jump, which is self explanatory, and finally Sandstorm for a whopping 30 cumulative relics to, you guessed it, summon a stage covering sandstorm. This gives every map unique and interesting gimmicks that, while very powerful, won’t guarantee you win the match if you get them first.
All of this rolls into a game that feels ridiculously unique despite being a bit one-note in what you’re doing. Sure, collecting 2000 Wumpa before the other team is pretty much what you’re doing, but everything mixed into it makes it a blast. Team composition is something you need to think about; as good as four Crash Bandicoots scoring sounds, someone has to block and take out the other team’s scorers. Similarly, playing the map is important; someone playing the booster platforms and relics makes a difference when it’s time to deposit Wumpa or unleash the ultimate relic. It almost makes me think of Overwatch in structure, what you’re doing might not change much, but the way you accomplish it makes all the difference, and it’s so much fun to figure out.
Variety is the spice of life, and Crash Team Rumble achieves that well via a lot of customization. There is a lot more here than you’d expect, with not only skins but hats, backpacks, and weapons to change out. Some of these are unlockable through badge challenges (earning badges for doing specific things), but there is also a lot available through the battle pass. I know, battle passes are a thing that people love to hate, but any time there is more content in a game, it’s a good thing, and it seems like Toys for Bob has packed this one full. I especially love the “Pixel” skins, blocky versions of the characters, as well as the different victory soundtracks coming from different Crash games.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.
Crash Team Rumble
Crash Team Rumble is a pick up and play multiplayer game that is shockingly fun. It gives players freedom while encouraging teamwork, with a variety of stages and characters. It has quirks and imbalances, but you’re never too far from the next match or unlockable.