Crash Team Rumble review: Crash course

Crash Team Rumble is a game that looks complex on the surface, but its short learning curve, smooth online play, and fun characters make it a blast.


It's been a pleasant surprise to see that Toys for Bob has remained working on Crash Bandicoot. The team's latest idea for the decades-old mascot is something that's slightly more outside the box. Crash Team Rumble is a 4v4 multiplayer party game that focuses on collecting loads of Wumpa fruit. The result is something far more fun than one might expect, even if certain live service elements feel out of place.

Crashing the party

N. Tropy in Crash Team Rumble

Source: Activision

Crash Team Rumble is a relatively simple idea. Players pick from various characters in the Crash Bandicoot world, from the original all the way through Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, for a party-style romp that sees teams collect Wumpa fruit. What makes this idea work is that it mainly incorporates classic Crash Bandicoot platforming mechanics. Collecting Wumpa fruit means spinning through crates and leaping across platforms. It's a competitive contest constructed around the foundation of a basic Crash Bandicoot game.

The result is sessions that are fast-paced and fun. That's largely a credit to the map designs, which look like they're inspired and designed after various Crash locales. When players aren't navigating tough jumps to collect the Wumpa they need, they're battling it out at their teams' goalposts to drop it off. Players can take on one of three roles on their teams. Whether they choose to be a Scorer, a Booster, or a Blocker, there's a place on the team for everyone. Even those who aren't efficient at scoring or eliminating other players can succeed by filling helpful support roles.

That leads to another major element that helps Crash Team Rumble stand out. Every map has special gimmicks, both big and small, and those are activated by Relics. Characters classified as Boosters can hold more Relics to help activate those gimmicks and they can make every CTR session a lot more interesting. Relics will activate different things depending on the map. One example is the N. Sanity Caverns' Spirit Guardians allowing players to become giant spirit versions of themselves with greater knockback power. These are game-changers and I loved that even if I couldn't turn the tide of a session by collecting Wumpa fruit or jumping on Booster Pads to increase my team's score multiplier, I could collect Relics and activate a map's Relic Station to give my teammates a momentary advantage.

A big change from the beta is the variety in characters, even within the same role. Crash and Catbat are both Scorers, but they have wildly different mechanics. The same is true of the Blockers, whether it's Dingodile bullying opponents with his girth and his vacuum or N. Tropy firing off ranged blasts. This can lead to more varied team builds and sessions that feel fun for different reasons.

Players can also change things up through their appearance on the battlefield, but that leads to one of Crash Team Rumble's lone issues.

Losing 'Battle'

Clown-like Neo Cortex in Crash Team Rumble

Source: Activision

Crash Team Rumble is a blast on its own, whether playing in public online lobbies or taking part in private sessions. It's what makes the adoption of the seasonal battle pass model for this $40 USD (Editor's Note: Crash Team Rumble retails at $30 USD) outing somewhat discouraging. I don't want to be the old man shaking his fist, drinking his prune juice, and incoherently muttering, "Back in my day, cosmetic unlockables were something you could earn by just playing the game," but Crash Team Rumble is going to make me do that nevertheless.

Cosmetics are going to be available through the 100-tier Battle Pass. The premium path is totally optional, but it also feels like it adds an unnecessary pressure to play through the game and unlock everything (whether on the free or paid tracks) before it goes away. (Thankfully, characters can be unlocked for free and at the player's leisure.) It doesn't always feel like I can play the game at my own pace, which is a shame, because Crash Team Rumble is the type of game I'd like to occasionally take out at the end of a hard day or for a half-hour at a time on a weekend. It's not something I want to have to obsess over in order to unlock everything or, worse, have to pay an extra fee to get everything. That's something for a free-to-play game, not a game that people already have to pay to access.

Rumble in the Crash jungle

On paper, Crash Team Rumble looks overly simplistic. When given the elevator pitch, it sounds needlessly complex. In practice, it's just right. A party-style competitive multiplayer platformer set in the Crash world and utilizing the Crash mechanics is a lot of fun. There are enough nods to the series to make fans happy, but there's enough of a solid core design to appeal to everyone. Add in cross-platform play and private lobbies, and this is a well-put-together effort from the team at Toys for Bob.

While I feel the live service elements are out of place, I ultimately can't hate the final product. Crash Team Rumble is a blast, one that's easy to learn and hard to put down.

This review is based on a remote review session held by Activision featuring PlayStation 5 versions of the final product. All unlockables were made available for the final hour of the session. Crash Team Rumble will be available on PlayStation and Xbox on Tuesday, June 20 for $39.99 USD. The game is rated E10+.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
Crash Team Rumble
  • Fun formula built around Crash mechanics
  • Strong character variety
  • Interesting maps with different hooks
  • Strong online play with cross-play and private lobbies
  • Some Relic Station gimmicks are more fun than others
  • Seasonal battle pass model feels unnecessary here
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