At its best, Crash Team Rumble is a pretty fun romp in the Crash Bandicoot universe with the potential for great team-based play. At its worst, it can feel mindless and like you’re just throwing toy versions of Crash and his friends at each other until a disembodied voice declares one of you the victor. However, I can’t help but feel like, regardless of the game’s merits and problems, it’s facing an uphill battle because it’s just not what Crash Bandicoot fans want.
Crash Team Rumble isn’t comparable to any of the series’ previous spin-offs. It’s a team-based, MOBA-like brawler with a roster of playable heroes that occupy different roles, all in service of one team gathering and dunking more points on the opposing goal. A lot of the matches I’ve played online have felt mindless, but the ones that have had coordinated teams making strategic plays have had some surprising depth. That core loop is solid, but it’s likely not what the average Crash fan is looking for these days.
Ultimately, Crash Team Rumble already has a lot going against it in the eyes of the purist Crash fans. It’s not a platformer, and it’s not a kart racer. The series isn’t a stranger to party games, even during the original PlayStation era when Crash Bash swung for the Mario Party audience. On paper, Crash Team Rumble is just not what a lot of Crash fans are looking for right now. It’s silly and fun, but it’s most comparable in format to a MOBA, framed as an in-universe sport that Crash’s friends and foes take part in when they’re not actually fighting each other. There are interesting remixes of long-established ideas from the series’ almost 30 years of history, but I don’t begrudge any Crash fan who looks at it and just feels like it’s not what they want.
Because the game already has a stigma around it because it’s not a genre Crash Bandicoot fans are looking for, I’m curious what Crash Team Rumble’s future looks like in the next few months. Given that there’s already some animosity toward it and the live-service structure, $30 doesn’t feel like quite the barrier to entry that a $60 or $70 price tag might have been. But I do wonder if we will see Toys For Bob pivot to free-to-play in the future so Crash fans who are hesitant can just try it out for themselves.
We’ve seen this pivot work for games like Fall Guys and Rocket League. Plus, Crash’s game’s primary progression is in its battle pass, alongside character-specific cosmetic unlocks you earn as you play. So Crash Team Rumble is already positioned for the service game grind that a free-to-play pivot could come in the future. Activision isn’t a stranger to free weekends for games like Overwatch (before the sequel devoured it and went free-to-play), so maybe moves like that could give folks a chance to at least try a game they’ve likely dismissed.
I don’t think Crash Team Rumble is going to be the next big live service craze, but it has its moments, I can’t help but pity a game that feels like the odds are stacked against it. I guess now I’m just left to see whether or not future support helps the game pick up steam, if Activision flips the switch and makes Crash Team Rumble a free-to-play game down the line, or if the plug gets pulled before either of those things happen.
What the future holds for Crash Team Rumble may be uncertain, but I do know one thing: Catbat fucking rules.