The Strange Saga Of Crash Bandicoot’s Wumpa League

In certain sections of the gaming community, Wumpa League is considered the Holy Grail. Most people don't even know what it is, but for particularly dedicated Crash Bandicoot fans, Wumpa League is basically the only game that matters. It's something of a battle royale set in the world of Crash where you play as different characters from the series and compete to gather boxes for your team. It was teased in Crash 4's ultimate ending, as well as its logo appearing in the first level, but there had been no official word on it. When Toys For Bob, the developer of Crash 4 (and, in theory, Wumpa League) were shunted onto development support for Call of Duty, Wumpa League seemed to be dead. However, the game may have come back to life.

Recently, independent journalist Liam Robertson revealed in-development footage of Wumpa League. Robertson has gradually been sharing concept art, both from the original team and what he claims to be the new team working on it post-Call of Duty shunting, and has given us our best look yet. While the footage shows a game clearly lacking all sorts of aesthetic polish, it does show the game in motion. Wumpa League has always been difficult to understand, given an online multiplayer platformer is such a departure from the Crash we're used to, and this look at it in motion helps put the pieces together.

The aim of the team-based game is to collect wumpa fruits and bring them back to your base. Much like in the other games, you do that via collecting loose wumpa or breaking boxes. However, to add an element of competition, you can also attack enemy players to steal theirs. It seems like each level has a sense of personality too, with one showing a rising ocean of toxic waste players have to avoid. We finally know what Wumpa League is, a lot more than we ever did, and I want to be excited for it, but I can't help but think it should just be Crash 5. Then again, with how strange the news cycle has been, I feel some weird form of duty to talk about the game at all when so many are dead-set on ignoring it.

The fallout to Robertson's Wumpa League unearthing has been odd and, in truth, childish. Many of the biggest Crash Bandicoot content creators sided firmly with Activision when the various lawsuits and scandals broke, either avoiding mentioning the issue altogether or sweeping concerns under the carpet with a hand wave. Whether this is apathy for the developers who make the games they love, greed for continued Activision freebies, or a complete ignorance to the issues varies from person to person. Robertson, whose net is spread far wider than being pigeonholed as a Crash content creator, called many of the biggest names out on it, especially when they continued to support Activision and celebrate free gifts. These are the sorts of voices who should be diving into this new Wumpa League footage, relishing it, and digging up Easter Eggs, but because it's Robertson, they're ignoring it completely.

As a result, Wumpa League's does not appear to be spreading all that far. We covered it the day Robertson's video dropped, but few others have taken notice. Some of these aforementioned content creators received a pizza box full of goodies for Crash 4's arrival on Steam, which seemed to tease a reveal at The Game Awards, so we may have official word on Wumpa League soon. Until then, it's strange that the game a whole community (admittedly a somewhat niche one) has obsessed over has seen no ripple effects from its most anticipated, thought to be cancelled game, emerging from the dirt.

Ultimately, Wumpa League is a strangely frustrating game for me. As a Crash fan, it's impossible not to get a little swept along in the drama of knowing there's a secret game being worked upon in the shadows. But when I hold the game out at arm’s length, I'm not sure I want a vaguely-but-not-quite battle royale Crash Bandicoot game. It was initially thought by some to be a Crash Bash (think Mario Party) revival, and I'd prefer that. But of course, what most of us really want is Crash 5. And while we're at it, shouldn't Spyro 4 be here by now?

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