Crash Bandicoot: On The Run, out today for iOS and Android, is a game in which Crash Bandicoot runs through narrow corridors breaking boxes and collecting Wumpa Fruit, just like every other Crash Bandicoot game. As mobile spin-offs go, it’s pretty on the nose.
Looking at the landscape screenshots developer King.com of Candy Crush fame provided for the game’s launch despite my phone only playing it in portrait mode, one could easily mistake On The Run for a Crash console joint. The game looks great. Crash does his signature spin move to bash enemies and break things. The difference is this game is a three-lane auto-runner, so you don’t have to tell Crash or his sister Coco to go forward. They just do it.
Crash Bandicoot: On The Run is not, however, an endless runner. Crash and Coco run through finite levels to take out a boss at the end, generally by dodging the obstacles they throw while getting close enough to douse them with various crafted concoctions. Clearing four sub-bosses allows the bandicoot siblings to take on a mildly tougher boss, after which a new set of baddies unlocks.
The free-to-play catch in Crash Bandicoot: On The Run is that battling bosses requires the aforementioned concoctions be crafted. Crafting takes materials, which are harvested through special gathering levels. Once materials are gathered you can craft the potions and whatnot needed to fight bosses, but there’s a timer (boo) that can be sped-up with in-game currency. You can gather all you want, but to progress through the game you’ll need to craft the random things. In-game currency can also be used to purchase skins, buy potion reagents, or buy extra tickets to participate in the game’s asynchronous multiplayer, which pits you against a pair of AI-controlled opponents to see who survives the longest.
There’s a lot of mobile free-to-play fluff going on, but Crash Bandicoot: On The Run balances all of that nonsense with a sense of fun and silliness that’s signature Crash. Once I’m deeper into the game I can imagine those timers getting pretty damn annoying, but for now it’s nice to have that wacky bandicoot in my pocket.