Crash Team Rumble, a team-based four-on-four multiplayer game, isn’t likely what anyone was asking for after the bandicoot’s successful return in 2020’s Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it’s difficult to see there being a huge market for this game that’s more like a MOBA than a new Crash Bash, it is still rather enjoyable, especially when played with friends.
Rumble has a solid tutorial that lays out the basics: you collect Wumpa Fruit around the map then take it to your home base to bank it. It’s simple, but there is a team of four other players attempting to do the same thing and get in your way. Its depth comes from collecting relics to exchange for power-ups and activating (and defending) gem platforms for added bonuses, which gives games some level of basic strategy. However, the core accessibility remains the Rumble’s largest strength, as it is easy to rope a friend in and have fun quickly rather than having to explain a convoluted system of checks and balances.
The levels are mostly rather colorful, taking inspiration from familiar locales seen in the platformer entries. From canyons to beaches to evil lairs, there’s a nice variety that pulls from the series’ strong art style. What makes each map interesting, though, is that each has a different set of power-ups. From being able to summon buffs that make your characters larger to bringing in enemies that attack the opposite team’s base, there’s a nice balance of offensive and defensive skills that give each map more of their own personality. It’s easy to focus purely on collecting fruit, so teams that have a balanced plan of attack that also cash in their relics will be at an advantage.
It’s largely the on-the-field strategy that decides matches, although team construction can also make or break a bout. For example, a team of four Crash Bandicoots is going to get destroyed by a more well-balanced team since the titular mascot lacks attack power and is better at platforming. It’s important to also have a character like Dingodile because he lives up to his class type of being a blocker and is able to go to play defense at the enemy’s base. A great team going against a poorly prepared one can make a huge difference and even lead to a perfect game, which happened to me during the game’s beta.
Crash Team Rumble truly shines during close, competitive matches when all of these factors are in play and both teams are utilizing their abilities effectively. Banking a game-winning score at the last second or getting revenge on an annoying rival N. Brio is where the game comes alive and is at its best. It’s obviously ideal to play with a group of four people that you actually know, but there’s still charm in playing with randoms — even if it is frustrating when those randoms play selfishly or silently switch to a different role at the last moment.
The biggest question mark for Crash Team Rumble is whether or not it will have staying power. There’s not a ridiculous amount of content here, after all. It only has a handful of characters for each class (most have to be unlocked, too), and there aren’t a ton of maps, either. The progression system isn’t even that great of a hook since most of the alternate skins are ugly and worse than the default designs.
But the game is mechanically sound, so hopefully servers will stay active while it receives its planned post-launch support of two (and possibly more) seasons. That’s certainly the hope, but more multiplayer games die than survive, so it remains to be seen what Crash Team Rumble’s fate will be.
Crash Team Rumble Review: The final verdict
Regardless of its question-mark-filled future, Crash Team Rumble is an uncomplicated, yet entertaining multiplayer experience. Crash and the other characters all control well and the core systems are solid, meaning there’s enough here even if you’re not a bandicoot-obsessed fan that knows the difference between Aku Aku and Uka Uka. The appeal doesn’t go far beyond that, though. It’s hard to imagine wanting to sink hundreds of hours into it since the simplicity that makes it approachable keeps it from true greatness. Yet not every game has to become a new obsession, and Crash Team Rumble is content to be just another, if comparatively brief, addition to you and your friend’s game night routine.