Crash Team Rumble Preview
In the pantheon of video game characters, Crash Bandicoot has to be somewhere near the top. Since 1996, Crash and his nemesis Dr. Neo Cortex have been platforming, kart racing and partying around the Wumpa Islands. Now, Crash leads a squad of mates against a quartet of opposing heroes in Toys for Bob’s Crash Team Rumble. I had the chance to sit in on a hands-off preview and I think the operative words to describe Crash Team Rumble are fast and furious fun.
NOT a MOBA
However, the developers themselves describe Crash Team Rumble as a “Strategic Multiplayer Platformer,” and that moniker also covers the bases pretty well. You join a squad of 4 unique heroes and acrobatically jump, run and battle your way across a number of colorful zones. The goal is to bank as much Wumpa fruit as possible, with the first team reaching 2000 claiming victory. There’s no timer, so an adept team can wipe away their opposition in a matter of minutes, or a match can last “as long as it takes.”
Picking up fruit sounds like a pretty simple goal. Thanks to clever map design and a ton of interesting features, there’s little chance of it being a boring one. First, let’s talk about maps. Inspired by prior Crash games, we saw three maps, with others promised. Each map has a unique look and layout. Just Beachy has a shoreline theme, Calamity Canyon looks like the desert southwest, and Tiki Towers takes us to the jungle.
Although the maps aren’t huge, they are carefully designed to make use of Crash’s well-honed platforming mechanics. There are Gem Pads, a series of connected platforms. Once captured, they give the team a time-limited score boost. Relic Stations turn collected Relics into fun special abilities or mechanics for the player or the whole team. For example, the Healing Fridge is an icebox with — you guessed it — healing powers for the team.
Capturing and holding Gem Pads, Relic Stations and other parts of the map gives each match an enjoyable, fast paced flow. The developers noted that the game’s mechanics are geared towards taking players from novices to experts. Beginners can jump in a just pick up Wumpa fruit. Experienced players can make use of a wider range of tools.
Classy and Classic
Although Crash Team Rumble isn’t a MOBA, it does have classes, or maybe it would be more accurate to call them roles. Interestingly, these developed out of testers’ play styles, and the developers noted that other aspects of the game will evolve based on player feedback and the flow of matches. At present, there are Scorers, Blockers and Boosters. It’s pretty obvious from the names what their functions are. Toys for Bob emphasized that while combat is not the focus of Crash Team Rumble, it’s certainly important to use defensive abilities to secure important items and locations. It wasn’t clear from the preview whether players will be able to craft the look of their characters.
In keeping with recent Crash games, especially Crash 4, Crash Team Rumble has a colorful and lively art style. Characters and locations from the franchise appear in the game, and of course Crash Team Rumble has the same, pun-filled and lighthearted humor fans love.
Fans of Crash Bandicoot or accessible team based action/strategy games have a lot to look forward to when Crash Team Rumble releases later this year.
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