Crash Team Rumble unlocked a newfound rage in me

Crash Team Rumble is a lively and colourful multiplayer game – but your enjoyment will largely depend on your opponents.
crash team rumble toys for bob sunset

I’m not normally an angry person. Rage is a useless, ugly emotion. Yet the moment I was losing in Crash Team Rumble, I felt a white-hot anger well up inside me. It was a combination of multiple factors. Losing after several fun and carefree matches where victory was a breeze didn’t help. But perhaps the most glaring contributor was the efforts of my opponents – two of whom had chosen to play as N. Brio, the most overpowered member of the game’s roster.

In Crash Team Rumble, your own enjoyment will likely hinge just as much on the frustrating tactics of your clever, annoying opponents.

Racking up wins in Crash Team Rumble

Matches in this 4v4 competitive, team-based party game are snappy and frantic. As you enter the battlefield, you’ll choose a main character – each with their own play style, strengths, and abilities – and work on a variety of goals in themed levels. As a Scorer, you’ll work on collecting Wumpa fruit in crates, to be ‘dunked’ at your home base. As a Booster, you’ll work on activating gem platforms that provide boosts to your team’s score. As a Blocker, you’ll work on defending your goals, and preventing goals by the opposite team.

Read: Everything you need to know about Crash Team Rumble

Working together with three other players, you’ll rack up your Wumpa fruit score until it hits 2,000, ending the game in a winning play. The path to this goal is littered with complications. Spending relics, you can unlock special powers like rolling cages, and beach balls, and masks that give you unique traits. You’ll also have to contend with each player’s special abilities, which give them a temporary advantage.

crash team rumble gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

In rounds of Crash Team Rumble, I found that tactical plays to snake some points, like creeping past enemies and jumping onto your home platform from a distance, worked well on occasion. Distracting home Blockers, by working to knock them out as a team, or leading them on a merry chase to create an opening, is a rush. But if you’ve got a Blocker that knows what they’re doing, the action becomes far less joyful.

One of the game’s most powerful abilities, earned by playing through multiple rounds and advancing along a Battle Pass track, is the Gasmoxian Guard. By deploying this ability, players can place a massive electricity-powered guard on a chosen location. At regular intervals, this guard unleashes electric attacks, pushing back players and forcing a retreat until the ability times out, or the guard is knocked out.

As you’d guess, most players choose to put this Gasmoxian Guard on or around the enemy team’s goals. You can be loaded up with Wumpa fruit, hard-earned by romping around the battlefield and avoiding roaming enemies, and be blocked at the last moment as opponents derail your plans.

Tactical thinking then becomes key, adding a layer of strategy to Crash Team Rumble that keeps the action fresh and exciting. Thwarting your opponents in these circumstances by biding time and rushing the goalpost once the Gasmoxian Guard departs works well – but when another player can easily deploy a secondary Guard at will, the game’s challenge level starts to feel a little unbalanced.

If you add N. Brio into the mix, you’re basically stuck for multiple rounds.

N. Brio is Crash Team Rumble‘s true villain

crash team rumble gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

You can choose from a variety of Crash Bandicoot characters in Crash Team Rumble. Crash himself is a great starting character, and has quick movement and traversal abilities for nabbing more Wumpa fruit and scoring. Tawna rocks a slightly better version of Crash’s moveset, and also has a grappling hook to escape danger.

Meanwhile, Dingodile is great for battering other players and knocking them out, Coco has a range of handy abilities, like a blocking wall, and Catbat is just plain cool.

Of the bunch included at launch, N. Brio is by far the most powerful hero – because he has the ability to transform into his giant ‘Hulk’ form during gameplay. Those familiar with the original Crash Bandicoot will known N. Brio serves as one of its main bosses, in a late-game fight where he consumes a potion to turn into a giant brute with smashing hands.

He can deploy this ability in Crash Team Rumble multiple times in a round, and it’s absolutely devastating on the battlefield. In Hulk form, you have no options to defend yourself from N. Brio. He moves fast, and each fist slams down with impossible force. If he’s charging at you, you’re already dead. If he’s defending your base, hoo boy. You’re in trouble.

In multiple rounds of Crash Team Rumble, I dealt with multiple N. Brio players. Only once was I able to jump in and knock him out, thanks to a brief slowdown while he recharged his Hulk powers. While there are windows where he’s basically powerless, transforming restores his health completely, making him very different to defeat in either form.

The longer I played, the more it seemed Crash Team Rumble players became aware of N. Brio’s prowess. More players began adopting him in rounds, and more of the action was interrupted by his rage-inducing thumps.

In most games, at least one of the base Blockers was N. Brio – and they spent their time in the game transforming and smashing anyone who even got close to home base, preventing Wumpa fruit from being dunked. There doesn’t appear to be any counter for this moveset, as of writing.

To be clear, when you’re on the winning team and your own blockers are dual-wielding Gasmoxian Guards and N. Brio Hulks, the game is gleeful – but when the opposing team knows the exploit, the fun of the game is almost completely lost.

Crash Team Rumble is an evolving game

crash team rumble gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

There is hope on the horizon, at least. Crash Team Rumble developer Toys for Bob is supporting the game with ongoing content in the form of months-long Battle Passes, and new characters launching on a regular basis. Should N. Brio prove insurmountable to wily players, he’s likely heading for a nerf in future – one that will be well-earned.

At this stage, it’s fair to say Crash Team Rumble could do with a few balance tweaks to ensure each character has strengths and weaknesses that can be fairly exploited on the battlefield. For now, that balance feels slightly off, with the challenge of gameplay being dampened by select blocking strategies that feel game-breaking.

That said, with its strong cast of characters and snappy, high-stakes rounds that take place in beautifully-designed realms, there’s still much to love about Crash Team Rumble. Its gameplay loop, when the battlefield is mostly free of N. Brio toxicity, is extremely compelling. Wins depend on both chance and skill, providing a sense of hope with every new playoff.

Read: How COVID got my entire family back into gaming after years away

You’ll learn new tactics with every round, and eventually come to know each stage, and how best to deploy relics and power-ups to ensure your team remains in the lead. This fun may be spoiled by the occasional Blocker or two, but even at its most frustrating, it’s clear there’s something joyous at the heart of Crash Team Rumble.

Even after multiple rounds, the action remained fresh thanks to the constant delivery of new abilities, and the serotonin boosts of fun cosmetic rewards. While the longevity of its appeal will depend on a strong player base and seasonal refreshes, Crash Team Rumble feels like a fun new chapter in the long-running Crash Bandicoot story. It’s a little bit silly and weird, but when the action is pumping, it’s also bright, lively, and wonderful fun.

Crash Team Rumble is now available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

02/18/2024 10:46 pm GMT

An Xbox Series X/S copy of Crash Team Rumble was provided and played for the purposes of this article. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.