The Worst Crash Bandicoot Game Just Launched

It's just an attempt at a money sink and an obsolete one at that.

By Daavpuke, Posted 01 Apr 2021

We're currently back, neck deep, into companies hawking nostalgia at us, partially due to the influx of new consoles. One of those franchises to come back in a big way is Crash Bandicoot, the goofy mascot from the PlayStation 1 (PS1) era. As someone who has been diving back into that catalog myself, with games such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, it felt appropriate to download the free-to-play mobile game, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run, which was just released to worldwide territories. It's a decision that I immediately regretted, even if I had originally pre-registered, to be notified as soon as it was available.

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run is, as the name suggests, a runner game, with the visual flair of the mascot platform games. Automatically moving forward, the player can switch between three lanes, jump, slide, or do a spin attack, if recognizable crates are in the way. This isn't the "endless" variety of runners; instead, the finite levels are crafted in parts, with sporadically one or two divergent paths. The ending of the main stages triggers a boss fight, where the enemy hurls objects down the lanes until Crash catches up. A major boss also requires throwing a few projectiles at them. So far, it's all standard fare.

Worst Crash Bandicoot Game

Well, the standard fare is more of a compliment, when it comes to this game. Yes, the individual parts can pass the smell test of what makes up a Crash Bandicoot release, but that's exactly as far as the recognizable parts go. For one, the running itself has no sense of speed or excitement. Switching lanes or performing moves animate so mechanically that there's never any weight to it; it just feels like the bare minimum of what it should look like. Secondly, gameplay never comes up with something clever that makes it seem like anything other than pressing buttons. While the runner genre has already been on the outs for a few years, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run does nothing, at its core, that peers like Temple Run or even Lara Croft: Relic Run haven't done better half a decade ago. This new mobile release feels ridiculously dated at launch.

The one thing it is actualizing on, however? We'll give you a quick guess. Got it? It's monetization efforts; that's the innovation that's been prioritized here. Aside from your regular premium currency that fuels every individual aspect of the game, there's also a split into several directions, all with their own carrot-on-a-stick. So far, not one of those options has done anything to alter the boring game itself; there's just more of it to go through. Challenges require going through a set path or collecting certain objects, while survival runs pit you against two other artificial intelligence (AI) players. These AI not only have a natural advantage at all times but also run near-perfect for almost five full minutes, which is not feasible to survive for most players. Only in one instance did the AI mess up, because there was a death pit so egregiously invisible that not even the AI could predict it. That's the level of care that's put into these modes.

On top of that, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run inserts resource collecting, because of course, it does. This means that progression is locked behind getting certain items, which force you to run the one same track dozens of times, before advancing. If that wasn't tedious enough, these resources then need to be crafted into other items, to actually unlock to levels that progress the game. Crafting, of course, also can take up to half an hour to complete. In short: You need to wait, to get bored. When even the main levels then start handing out the same repeated track, that payoff is ludicrously small.

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run is made by developer King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga. That studio has since been acquired by its parent company, Activision. As such, it's to be expected that the final nail in this dreary coffin comes in the form of microtransactions. Aside from just premium currency, which can be purchased for up to €110 at "best value," the game also offers skins, because of course, it does. If there's a tactic that can earn money, this game is going to use it. This includes full-screen advertisements that pop up regularly. One such ad sells a Crash Bandicoot wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses, with the caption: "Oooh, right in the nostalgia!" Let's make this perfectly clear: The crossover of people who are nostalgic for the PS1 games and those who would want to return to runner games from almost a decade ago is zero. Zero people relate to this product, try as you might, King.

As of writing, I'm stuck advancing in the game, because the required amount of crafting I'd need to do would take several hours, on top of also going through the motions of the same resource run. That action would also take about an hour of the same thing, over and over. In the meantime, my phone spat out a push notification that told me I had done something in the past. There was no consequence here; I had beaten a boss, but it's not like there was something to collect. Crash Bandicoot: On the Run just wanted to light up my phone, for no reason at all. Whatever this game is going for, there was no heart put into this cynical thing. It's just an attempt at a money sink and an obsolete one at that. What an atrocious waste of time, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run is, inside and out.


Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer(s): Naughty Dog
Genres: Platformer
Themes: Platformer
Release Date: 1998-10-10

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