Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! will launch on March 25th (find pre-registration links here for iOS and Android), but just last week, Collider joined a select group of games journalists from all around the world to get a sneak peek at what King is calling “The Crashiest Crash Game, Ever.” And once you get a glimpse of what’s coming to the app this week on launch, you might just find yourself nodding in agreement and bopping to all-new music tracks from the solo/co-op runner. (For transparency’s sake, we didn’t get a hands-on demo or anything yet, so when it comes to the app’s gameplay and how Crash and Coco actually run, stay tuned.)
In Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, you’ll be able to “Make a mad dash through Turtle Woods, Lost City, Temple Ruins, and The Lab to take on classic enemies and bosses, including Scorporilla, Nitrus Brio, and Fake Crash! Team up with Crash’s sister Coco and gather ingredients on your runs to craft wild and wacky weapons.” But there’s so much more to discover in this new game, one which pulls from all the games in the Crash franchise, from the most popular, well-known, and latest releases, as well as some obscure titles that only the real die-hard fans know and love. Check out the announcement trailer and official synopsis below, followed by our breakdown from King’s behind-the-scenes sneak-peek event:
Here’s the official synopsis:
In Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! , Dr. Neo Cortex has dispatched iconic villains across the multiverse to take control of all dimensions. With the help of his sister Coco, Crash must bash Cortex’s minions back to their own dimensions! Use Crash’s unstoppable energy and let the fur fly as you run, spin and slide your way to stop the dastardly Dr. Neo Cortex from destroying all worlds.
Where and When Does Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! Take Place?
The first thing that the folks at King stressed to us before revealing everything they had to share about the upcoming game is that their mantra was to make “the Crashiest Crash game, ever.” That included looking back at 25 years of Crash Bandicoot to pull from the franchise’s official canon and make some rather obscure characters, levels, and moments canon by including them in this game. But to understand how all of Crash fits together in a mobile runner, you first have to get a handle on the plot itself and where it fits in the overall timeline.
In Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, you’ll actually be in the center of the franchise’s timeline. Because Dr. Neo Cortex is calling in all villains from across the multiverse to aid in domination of all dimensions, this game exists at the nexus of all possible timelines and crossovers. That’s a super-fun way for King to include iconic characters like Crash, Coco, and Dr. N. Cortex, but also supporting players like N. Oxide (who will kick off the app as a story-based villain at launch), a boss battle against a reimagined Scorporilla, and even the game’s new Big Bad, Mr. Crumb, pulled from the digital files of a little known Crash title. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Everything done in On the Run! was, in the words of the King team (including Stephen Jarrett, Gigi Chui, and Nana Li), done to focus on delivering a console-quality game on a mobile platform. That included making sure the title looks great and runs equally well on all devices.
Classic Crash got a makeover that simplified the details a bit in favor of a “brighter and cleaner” approach with “fresh lighting and color,” as well as original sound effects and music. Elements of Crash lore, from level design and character concepts, were incorporated into every aspect of the new mobile runner game. Crash fans of all ages will be able to spot familiar characters, landmarks, gameplay styles and more.
And of course, special attention was paid to making sure the runner had a sense of flow, not just in the level design itself but in your player character’s ability to string various moves together. Even the death animations, an inevitable fact of Crash games, got an overhaul; expect to see a lot of these.
What’s Coming to the Mobile Game?
We talked about the overall perspective for the King team above, so let’s get a little more specific. A new mechanic comes to the Crash franchise with this game in the form of Coco’s Base, a hub where character progression is tracked and where Coco can repair machines and invent new things in order to unlock a variety of gameplay options. (Keep an eye out for Easter eggs and unlockables all around the base.) The design of the base will also change as the months and years go by, because yes, this game is designed to have Seasons and will also incorporate holidays into its aesthetic.
On launch, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! will have 70 costumes available for players to earn, some of which are shared between playable characters Crash and Coco, and some of which are unique to each of them. The team is aiming for 200 total costumes by year’s end. And they’re not just cosmetic collectibles; each costume will give you a different sort of gameplay bonus, some of which you might need (or at least they’ll help you) to complete different daily missions, trophies, etc.
So what challenge modes will be available? The all-time classic Time Trials is an option, as are “Smash All the Crates,” Daily Challenge Runs, and the title-exclusive Survival Run. This clever new addition sees you racing against other players in randomly generated levels that simply do not end until there’s one runner left standing. No matter which mode you try out, you’ll be able to collect trophies for successfully completing goals, which you can then use to unlock rewards in just about every category in each season.
Of course, there’s a Free Pass track that will offer up rewards at no cost as you progress, but there’s also the Bandicoot Pass, a richer track offering more rewards for the same progression levels. As you progress, so will missions each season and the story overall. You can even join a team and cooperate to earn team trophies and rewards, some of which will be unique to each season.
King is eager to bring new features to the game in the future as new seasons are introduced, but they’ll kick things off with the Celebration Season at launch.
Music & SFX
Composer Sebastian Aav and his team put together 50 tracks totaling roughly 50 minutes of music for Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! These pull from genres like Disco, Metal, Funk, and many more, while honoring past games’ music and creating their own signature sound. (My personal favorites? Nina Cortex’s Metal theme, Mr. Crumb’s sure-to-be iconic tune, and the theme for Fake Crash, described as “if a high school orchestra played the real Crash’s theme poorly.) Aav and other talented musicians mixed together real and virtual instruments to create the game’s unstoppably addictive sound.
And speaking of sound, the foley team went through their own paces to generate all new sound effects for every smashable, crashable, runnable surface in the game, and then some. But it can’t go without mentioning that each boss in Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! also gets their own theme!
The mobile runner doesn’t just honor Crash‘s 25-year history, it unites it. The first boss in the game is a modifid Scorporilla, a character introduced in Crash of the Titans and who appeared in Crash: Mind Over Mutant. Now, with the arrival of On the Run!, she’s canon!
While fans were pleased with Scorporilla’s new design for the game, they were understandably a little miffed by the changes to Dingodile. The King team admits they took stock, paid attention to fans’ criticisms, and redesigned the iconic villain to be closer to his original appearance. They spent quite a bit of time gauging fan reactions and learning with Crash players love about the frachise. They used that information to shape their redesigns of characters like Nina Cortex and Tini Tiger, to keep the fans happy.
And that attention to detail is what led them to obscure minion characters like Twinsanity‘s Pink Elephant (who appears in this game as an homage to Twinsanity‘s cut “Gone a Bit Coco” level). Perhaps the most obscure, however, is the new boss Mr. Crumb, a character seen as a sprite in the late-90s Tiger Electronics 99x handheld Crash game who became a fan-favorite and now has a brand-new redesign.
We’re sure you have more questions; we did, too. King’s team fielded quite a few of them, which we’ve gathered below, but just in case your question or answer isn’t here, stay tuned. We’ll have more info as the game heads towards release later this week!
Other playable characters?
– Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! will release with Crash and Coco, but team lead Stephen Jarrett loves Tawna’s controls from Crash 4, so if the community wants a new playable character, they’ll accomodate. In other words, be sure to leave feedback, fans!
Toughest challenges for adapting the Crash games to a runner style?
– Getting the flow of movement right, similar to crashing through crates
– TNT was a challenge due to the countdown; used sound or other triggers to set it off
– Mobile platforms gave the team an opportunity to show of things like social sharing and co-op
Will there be crossplay for Survival Runs?
The team members’ favorite skin or costume?
– From the 200 available outfits by the end of the year, Stephen loves the Nina Cortex and Nitrous Oxide skins for Coco. Gigi also likes the retro Crash skin and others that will be a nice surprise for fans.
Any mobile game trends that influenced the Crash adaptation?
– Social is the biggest thing; success driven by community and communication. Seasonal content was also an inspiration and a driving force, opting for continued support for the game.
Fan feedback vs staying true to the original vision:
– The Devs team are fans, too, so a lot of their plans align with fan wishes, like Crash running TOWARDS the screen while being chased in a future season, much like Dino Dash.
– The focus is on highlighting challenges and rewards for players of all levels, allowing you to essentially choose how difficult you want your experience to be.
If rewards are resourced-based, how do you keep the game from feeling grindy?
– Runs aren’t endless or randomly generated, except for Survival Runs. Instead, they’re pre-designed levels with multiple/secret paths to be discovered over time. Additionally, costumes aim to help with progression and take away any grindiness aspects.
What separates Crash from other mobile runners?
– Variety, plus the love and effort put into the game on behalf of the Crash community. Plus, Boss fights will feature different bosses with different fighting techniques.
Were there any COVID impacts?
– No real impact; the game was mostly built working from home. “King has gone above and beyond to make working from home as safe and seamless as possible.”
Tech specs for mobile devices?
– Works on low-end phones, anywhere from 30fps to 60fps; stay tuned for more hardware specs.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! arrives on mobile devices on March 25th. (And thanks to our event MC, MADtv’s own Bobby Lee!
KEEP READING: ‘Crash Bandicoot 4’ Heads to Next-Gen Consoles, Nintendo Switch, and PC, and It’s About Time
Plus, why we haven’t gotten a kick ass ‘John Wick’ video game yet and if he has plans to direct.
About The Author