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Crash in Skylanders: Thumpin' Wumpa Islands

help I can't breathe

Unbelievable things have been happening at Gamescom today, and I'm so jittery with excitement and antecipation that I might not be able to finish this paragraph properlasdfghjkjdij.

So! Where to even start? I guess we should first confirm our long-time suspicion that Lex Lang is back as Dr. Neo Cortex, and he's every bit as excited about it as his fans! Lex has been the voice of our maniacal overlord-to-be for 12 years, and he's really brought this character to life thanks to being a fun and talented actor with a penchant for world domination.

Crash's presence at Gamescom is reminiscent of E3 when the franchise was at the peak of its popularity (case in point: they even have another guy in a Crash costume, though we're not sure if this one's running around yelling at plumbers or telling people to eat their pizza in reverse). This is all part of the promotion for Skylanders Imaginators, and boy, have they dropped a sugar-coated bomb of goodies! Let's take a look at what they've shown so far.

The Synchronization Celebration

I'd like to start off by reasserting that even though this is another Skylanders game developed by Toys For Bob, Vicarious Visions is handling everything related to Crash, including all of the locations, characters, and even Crash's very own exclusive story and level. Since this isn't an actual Crash game, you might not expect much beyond a contrived excuse to have the bandicoot as a playable character, but Vicarious Visions actually went out of their way to create a lite new adventure that feels right at home in the series.

Crash's level is set in the Wumpa Islands (apparently that's now the name of his home archipelago, which is a pretty clever take on the more confusing approach from Crash of the Titans). His adventure unfurls during the Synchronization Celebration, an event that is best explained by Vicarious Visions:

The Synchronization Celebration came about as a sort of meta-nod to Crash's long history. It is a very special event, conveniently scheduled to occur once every 20 years, where everything on the island moves in sync with the powerful rhythmic energies of the Wumpa Islands.

Cortex, of course, has been working on an evil plan to take advantage of the situation. His latest invention, the Matrix Chamber, is a mecha meant to enslave the minds of his minions-to-be, and it works by harnessing the islands' rhythmic force during this event.

When the doctor's plan is finally about to come together, Fake Crash (of all people) hijacks the device and ruins everything at the last possible moment, leading the machine to backfire with chaotic results. His awful dancing starts creating bad vibes around the place, and Cortex is forced to join Crash to try and stop the ongoing catastrophe before the island breaks apart (because how else would he be able to conquer it?)

Thumpin' Wumpa Islands

Crash's level is called Thumpin' Wumpa Islands, and it's unlocked through either the Crash or Cortex toy. Though this level will be temporarily exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and 4 when the game comes out in October, the other consoles are getting the Thumpin' Wumpa Islands Adventure Pack this holiday season, which includes both toys and the level they unlock. This pack will cost $29.99 US dollars, compared to the more expensive (but also far more complete) Crash Edition headed towards PlayStation platforms. No word yet on whether that last one is coming to other consoles at all.

One of the cool things about Crash's level is that it has rhythmic gameplay during certain segments, and this ties directly to the story. Not only do the NPCs and the scenery boogie in sync with the music, but you'll sometimes have to move with the rhythm as well. For example, there is a 2D segment where you must run across moving stone slabs that push you off the path, which is similar in concept to Sunset Vista from the original game, but with the added musical element.

2D segments aren't the only gameplay callbacks you'll find. Classic elements like crates and wumpa fruits are present all around, and at one point Crash can choose to partake in one of the tribesmen's challenges and break as many crates as possible while he flees from a giant boulder towards the camera. There's even a puzzle involving statues of Tiny and Dingodile, both of whom have their classic designs like everyone else. Heck, you can see Cortex's castle in the background at one point, and Aku Aku even acknowledges that Crash and Spyro have met before!

This all really drives the point home of how special a party the Synchronization Celebration is. Coupled with the upcoming remasters, it definitely feels like an awesome way to celebrate Crash's 20th anniversary. Compare that to 10 years ago... (shudder)

Paging Doctor Cortex

Cortex being a playable character came right out of left field, especially when you consider that Skylanders requires a toy for each character. We already know what he's going to look and sound like (basically a more detailed rendition of Charles Zembillas's artwork coupled with Lex Lang's iconic voice), but what about the way he plays?

I'm happy to confirm that, just like Crash, the doc's moveset is entirely based on his past devices and shenanigans. He, of course, uses his trusty ray gun, and he also has access to his rocketsled to move around faster (or take on a more offensive approach), the mines he used in his boss fight from WARPED, and some cool, original gadgets such as a force field generator. His special Sky-Chi move has him using his ray gun to bring down a fierce electric discharge on his foes. As speculated, he even has a bit of help from Uka Uka, who can be pushed towards enemies. And for all you Skylanders enthusiasts out there, it'll interest you to know that Cortex is a Tech Sorcerer, which is a pretty interesting typing.

The Rundown

In a nutshell, here's everything new so far:

  • Crash will have an exclusive level called Thumpin' Wumpa Islands;
  • This level is unlocked through the Crash or Cortex toy;
  • The non-Playstation consoles will get the Crash toys and content this holiday season through the Thumpin' Wumpa Islands Adventure Pack ($29.99 US dollars);
  • Fake Crash is the "bad guy" this time, inadvertently destroying the island with his dancing;
  • Lots of callbacks to the classic games, including visual cameos, NPCs, and gameplay elements;
  • Rhythmic gameplay occasionally shows up to tie in with the story;
  • Cortex is voiced by Lex Lang, indicating a likely return for the remastered trilogy that's in the works.

If you want to learn more about the creative process behind this whole thing, I recommend that you read Vicarious Visions' most recent article, which you can find here.

New screenshots and videos are also being added to the game's dedicated section, so go check them out!



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