When Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy released in 2017, it started a trend of retro revivals for classic franchises like Spyro the Dragon, Destroy All Humans, and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Now, things have come back around to Crash Bandicoot. Not only is the critter referenced in The Last of Us Part II and is starring in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, but a mobile spin-off called Crash Bandicoot: On the Run was announced Thursday.
Activision and King announced Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!for iOS and Android on July 9. A specific release date wasn't given for the mobile game, but you can pre-register for it on Android right now. Ahead of its announcement, Inverse got to see about 10 minutes of gameplay, and Crash Bandicoot: On the Run looks like a faithful adaptation of the series' core mechanics into a genre that works for mobile, even if that genre is somewhat crowded.
What is Crash Bandicoot: On the Run? Crash Bandicoot takes the classic mechanics of the series and applies it to a level-based runner formula. If you've played games like Subway Surfers, you'll have a general idea of what to expect. The gameplay and levels are "drawing inspiration from Crash’s vibrant history," so you can expect to see some familiar "characters, bosses, enemies and lands," to be adapted for Crash Bandicoot: On the Run.
The story follows Crash and Coco as they take on Neo Cortex once again across the multiverse. Its story and designs tie in with Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, the console game coming later this year. This game does go a bit further by letting players customize Crash and Coco with unique looks. My favorite for each was the "Nitro" version that made them look infected.
Who is making Crash Bandicoot: On the Run? If you're wondering why King is handling the reins of this project, it is an extremely popular mobile game developer that's actually owned by Activision. You probably know them best for Candy Crush, and it's been able to lend some of that mobile game expertise towards On the Run's mechanics.
"Our ambition is to transform the runner experience with classic Crash gameplay, while adding depth and progression through a variety of exciting features including meaningful social, crafting and base building," Game Design VP Stephen Jarrett explained. Hopefully, they can manage to do that without making it too microtransaction heavy.
What did Inverse think of Crash Bandicoot: On the Run? Prior to its announcement, Inverse got an early look at the first trailer and screenshots for Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! as well as about 7 minutes of gameplay. In the footage, we saw Crash running through three different levels, collecting Wumpa fruit, dodging TNT crates, and fighting enemies and bosses.
Crashes iconic look and ability to spin remain in Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, but this game also lets Crash throw fruit ahead of him to destroy creates and hit enemies. As an endless runner, the game forces you to consider what's directly in front of Crash too. Falling off ledges or hitting unbreakable objects will kill the player.
It appears to be a very straightforward level-based runner, so don't expect it to shock you with innovative new mechanics if you're familiar with the genre on mobile. That said, it still looks like a fun adaptation of the classic Crash Bandicoot formula to a genre that works well on mobile. If the series had been adapted as a match 3 puzzle game, like many of King's other titles, then I would be much less enthusiastic about it.
Crash Bandicoot has always been about tightly constructed linear levels that reward skill and memorization, and that fits nearly perfectly into the runner genre that games like Temple Run and Subway Surfers popularized. Whereas Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time seems to be expanding the formula with more bombastic levels and mechanics, On the Run is honing in on what made the first games great and adapts into a different form of gaming.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run is coming to both iOS and Android.