It's been a while since Crash Bandicoot has starred in an old-school 3D platformer. It'll be a little while longer before he does, because Crash Team Rumble, from Activision and Toys for Bob, represents a slight departure for the classic mascot. This is more of a competitive party game, one that brings together the series' most recognizable characters. The rules take a moment to sink in, but once they do, sessions quickly become an intensely good time.
The rules to Crash Team Rumble are quite simple. Teams of four take the field and battle for Wumpa fruit. Take 2,000 of the valuable fruit to your team's goal and win the game. It's an easy enough concept to grasp, but as we found out at Shacknews as we tried it out for ourselves, there are enough moving parts in place to keep sessions engaging.
The first thing to know about Crash Team Rumble is that while every character brings their own set of moves and individual stats to each game, there are three distinct roles:
- The Scorer (Crash and Tawna) is mainly there to collect Wumpa fruit across the field and bring their stash to their goal. If they can find any Gem Pads in need of the team's attention, they should seek them out in order to increase the team's Wumpa multiplier. Gem Pad bonuses can be stacked, making them invaluable.
- The Booster (Coco and Dr. Neo Cortex) plays more of a support role. They can also assist with capturing Gem Pads, but their main role is to find Relics. In fact, as Boosters, they can sometimes pick up double Relics. Relics are scattered across the field and can unlock power-ups at Relic Stations, which vary by map. There's also a Relic Station on each map that costs upwards of 30 Relics, which can swing the momentum of each game, making the Booster's efficiency essential.
- The Blocker (Dingodile) is the equivalent of a hockey goon. This role's main purpose is to stop the other team from scoring, which will often involve camping their goal. Dingodile's vacuum can not only suck up Wumpa fruit for the team, but it can send opponents all over the place.
It's important to note that while Crash Team Rumble is far from a traditional Crash platformer, many of the principles from those games are in place. Crash and company control just like they would in one of their classic titles. That means bashing boxes, double jumping, and navigating tough platforms are still the central focus. Throughout our few hours with the game, I never felt like I wasn't playing a Crash game, because by the end, I was still doing with Crash Team Rumble what I would do in most of the mascot's other titles.
Much of Crash Team Rumble's variety will come from the game's different maps. Our time with the game saw us battle on Just Beachy, Calamity Canyon, and Tiki Towers, each of which had its own distinct layouts. Wumpa fruit, Relics, Gems, and Relic Stations will be located in the same spots, meaning it's wise to learn the lay of the land quickly and plan out strategies with teammates. This can mean climbing cliffs to collect Relics or putting some Blockers on the opposing goal. It can also mean discussing which special power to select before starting the game, whether it's a Healing Fridge that can help the team or a Gasmoxian Guard that can be planted on the opposing team's goal.
Relic Stations change based on the map and some power-ups certainly felt better than others. For example, I found a Forcefield on Calamity Canyon to ward off Blockers was a lot more effective than a bouncy Beach Ball on Just Beachy. As noted earlier, each map has a more expensive Relic Station and this can offer a massive advantage to the team that can unlock it. Tiki Towers, for instance, has a Relic Station that unlocks Uka Uka, who will rain down meteors from the sky and wipe out any enemies caught underneath.
Activision and Toys for Bob certainly hope players will gravitate towards the simple fun of Crash Team Rumble, which is why the game will feature a slew of cosmetics. They're nothing earth-shattering, but there was something amusing about placing a bowler hat on Crash. Many of these unlockables will be available over the course of the game's seasonal Battle Passes, which will be deployed every few months.
Crash Team Rumble's fast pace was a pleasant surprise. More than that, I was pleased to see that it stays close to the spirit of the old Crash titles, both aesthetically and mechanically. The best way to describe it would be simple fun, but a game that's a little hard to explain in words. Those interested in trying the game out can try out the game's closed beta, which will run from April 20-24. Look for Crash Team Rumble to come to PlayStation and Xbox on June 20.
This preview is based on a PlayStation 5 build from an offsite event held by Activision. Snacks were provided.
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