As with so many gaming franchises, Crash Bandicoot has seen something of a resurrection over the past few years. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled signalled that the demand for nostalgia wasn’t limited to just the main series of games alone. Of course, when Crash Team Rumble was announced, comparisons to fan favourite Crash Bash were inevitable.
Crash Bash was a party game released only on the PlayStation, striking a similar chord to the Mario Party titles. The spin off featured several characters from the main series who were playable across lots of mini games, such as “Polar Push” and “Crash Dash”. Despite much love from the players, the game didn’t review particularly strongly at the time.
Fast forward over twenty years and the release of Crash Team Rumble draws near, and inevitably feels a little different in the way most online multiplayer games do these days. Although you won’t be able to get your hands on the full version until June 20th 2023, those who pre-ordered the game were given access to a closed beta, along with a few others. I decided to jump on myself and see what all the fuss was about.
The lush, colourful environment from the Crash Bandicoot games was just as inviting as ever. Despite being in Closed Beta, Crash Team Rumble looked brilliant and ran very smoothly with no bugs or glitches. A brief tutorial guided me through the simple mechanics, before I was let loose in the worldwide lobbies.
The preview featured a mode where two teams of four players battled it out to bank enough Wumpa fruit to win the round. Whilst doing so there was a small window where players could be interrupted, as those attempting to net points dropped what they had collected into the scoring zone.
Each character can jump various times, attack and bust out a special move depending on their class. For example, Crash is a scorer which means his role is to collect as much Wumpa fruit as possible and safely deliver it to the scoring zone. Dingodile is a blocker who has the ability to vacuum Wumpa fruit up, and pinch it from other players. Although pretty basic, the tactical differences between characters made a noticeable difference to how you play.
The all too familiar relics were also scattered around the playing field, which when collected unlocked access to several power ups. These ranged from a projectile spitting plant (which could craftily be placed on top of the scoring zone) to an Uka Uka boost for the entire team.
There were also special jewel platforms that when illuminated, granted the team a boost in the amount of Wumpa fruit they could carry and by extension score at a time. These made for key battlegrounds as players tussled for control, as it was necessary to hold them for several seconds to capture them. Of course, each player has a health bar and can only take so many hits. If you die, you can also kiss all of your Wumpa fruit and relics goodbye.
There were a handful of battle arenas to duke it out in, which were pretty sizable given the maximum number of players was limited to eight. The matches are designed for two teams of four to go head to head, and cross play was also available which helped the matchmaking to be smooth and speedy. What I also enjoyed was the in-match commentary, which added a little more theatre to the mayhem.
Playing matches levels up your character, unlocking new power ups and customisation options, as well as banking Season Pass XP. Yep, that’s right folks, the all too familiar progression system is present in Crash Team Rumble. It also looks like there will be a premium battle pass at launch, so it remains to be seen how much is locked behind it, and how much is available to all.
Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer unlocking content by completing specific challenges as opposed to grinding XP through playing a seemingly endless amount of rounds. Again, it remains to be seen just the amount needed to be earned to level up (it was a fair amount in the Beta), but let’s hope that it isn’t so much that it will put people off.
This means there’s plenty of ways to personalise your experience, from the usual items such as profile avatars to something a little more unusual. There are numerous tunes you can unlock which play when you put in a best individual performance, including many retro entries that will stoke the flames of nostalgia and never fail to raise a smile. This I really liked.
Despite there only being one mode on show, promises have been made that there is much more to look forward to when Crash Team Rumble releases, and beyond. At present, the offering feels a little meagre given the entry price is set at £24.99 which worries me slightly. I know it’s only the Beta but still.
It all rests on how much is available at launch, but personally I think Crash Team Rumble needs more than new characters and maps – it’s the game modes which will fundamentally make or break the game. Let’s hope that it is the case because I had fun with the Closed Beta, which has really whetted my appetite for more bandicoot battling action. Bring it on.
Crash Team Rumble will be releasing on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on June 20th 2023. There are both Standard (£24.99) and Deluxe (£34.99) editions in place on the Xbox Store, ready for pre-ordering. It’ll be on PlayStation too.