Wumpa wumpa fiery failure
Given the origins of the franchise, it’s surprising that Activision Blizzard took so long to make something like Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! I know the original PlayStation was not an auto runner like this, but looking at mobile platforms like Sonic dash and Unlimited spider-man copied his rear view perspective to huge financial success, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t get King to work on this in 2016, right after he bought the mobile developer. Because if you had released this in 2017 or 2018, it might not feel as dated as it did in 2021.
That is not to say there is no fun with In the race! I must admit I enjoyed some of his more difficult ways. Sadly, these modes make up a miniscule part of a game that takes a surprising amount of work.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! it does not have a standard energy meter like similar games in the genre. Rather, it employs a crafting system to make you wait or pay to speed things up. To advance the actual narrative of the game and stop Doctor Neo Cortex, you must unlock courses using items that you create in the central world labs. The ingredients for those items are in different stages of endless corridors that you can play repeatedly, collecting whatever collectibles you come across. Just don’t use them for long as those ingredients need time to refill after taking them.
Once you have those ingredients, it’s time to start waiting. Each item that can be crafted has a timer attached to it. Those timers start in just one minute, but last stage items can take six or more hours to make. And yes, you will have to craft items to use as ingredients when you make them at other times. Now, you can speed up the process by spending the purple crystals you earn or buy, but there is no way I would recommend doing so. Especially not for such a decidedly average game.
It doesn’t take long for the monotony to set in with In the race! The endless runner stages and narrative courses haven’t offered much variety or challenge in the few hours I’ve spent playing the game. Now this could change as you enter more hours and unlock new islands, but why the heck would I waste my time doing that? Am I really to believe that this game will improve significantly after spending a week working on it? Because that sounds silly to me.
Of course, none of this really surprises me. When In the race! It was first announced, I think we all saw that this was the direction it would go. When you add base crafting and building elements to a free automatic runner, it is not because they will improve the game.
And it’s a real shame too, because Crash Bandicoot on an auto runner didn’t have to be so boring. The game is bright and colorful, and the controls work exactly as they should. We know Activision Blizzard has the money and the ability to do A’s. Shock Titles. But to do that, you need to invest in creating dynamic and diverse handcrafted sets, not these run-of-the-mill levels that are made up of track pieces that mix and match.
The only real enjoyment I’ve found so far with In the race! It is in its Challenge and Survival Races modes. They both offer drastically increased difficulty with stages that really do their best to try and trip you up. Launch more enemies, more pillars, more Nitro blocks, and trickier jumps in tighter settings. I’d say these modes make the standard stages feel like a walk in the park, but those stages basically do it by themselves.
It’s just another damn disappointment and honestly, games like this are why I still subscribe to Apple Arcade.