It seems very likely that a new Crash Bandicoot game is on the horizon. Wumpa League has been rumoured for a very long time, and it appears the time is near. To celebrate Crash 4’s arrival on Steam, a package was sent out to various Crash influencers that had two dates cryptically written on the box. The first was the date Crash 4 was to join Steam, and the second was the upcoming date of The Game Awards, where the new game will presumably be revealed. Whatever it is, please don’t put any jet packs in it.
Crash fans have been spoiled recently. After years in the wilderness, The N.Sane Trilogy gave the first three games a fresh coat of paint, bringing three classics of the PS1 era up to the modern era – and once more giving Crash a sickass motorbike. I’m always a little hesitant to celebrate remakes and remasters that change very little besides polishing the looks, but I have to admit it has been an almighty springboard for Crash. Following N.Sane, we had Refueled, which combined Crash Team Racing and Nitro Kart into a fresh experience with customisation, new characters, new tracks, and a robust online experience. Then we got Crash 4 and, most likely, Wumpa League.
There is no official information on Wumpa League, so all we have to go on is vague, largely unverified leaks, and some whispered rumours. It appears to be an evolution of Crash Bash, which was the Bandicoot’s answer to Mario Party. Wumpa League is meant to be less fragmented than the individual minigames of Bash and Party though, and more of an online platforming multiplayer experience. Right now, it sounds different not only to anything Crash has done before, but to most of the platforming space. It’s possible once we see it I’ll be able to draw closer comparisons to Kirby, Sonic, or Spyro, but it feels like a new idea. I just don’t want jet packs.
Crash’s central appeal has always been its variety. As well as the aforementioned motorbike levels, the original trilogy let you dive underwater, fly planes, play levels in pitch black, escape boulders or dinosaurs, ride polar bears, tigers, and dino cubs, and of course, use jet packs. The jet packs were always the worst levels. Depth perception never really worked on the jet pack levels, movement was far too clunky, and the level design was heavily restricted by the nature of the linear movement.
Crash 4 did not have jet pack levels, but it also lacked some of that variety. We had Tawna, Cortex, and Dingodile added to the playable character pool, but these characters only approached their own levels slightly differently. Cortex had new platforming abilities, Tawna was more agile, Dingodile slow and powerful. For the most part, they played out the same each time. Levels were longer and had different sections, but it never said ‘sure, here’s a motorbike race’.
In making the levels so long and catering so absolutely to the top percentile of completionists, something of the magic went away. Wumpa League will hopefully bring that magic back, but it needs to do that without a jet pack. I’m a little concerned that Wumpa League will build off Crash 4 and will trim away the variety to smooth out the multiplayer experience, but not quite enough that I’m prepared to defend the jet packs.
Crash fans have been spoiled recently, even as the most unbearable whine about the prolonged wait for Wumpa League (or whatever it may be) to finally be unveiled. It’s a series that has come in from the cold and we should be thankful for that. But we also shouldn’t have to tolerate jet packs. Please. No jet packs.
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