The game developer Toys For Bob has pulled the curtain back on the newest addition to their upcoming multiplayer game, Crash Team Rumble. Their latest character, Catbat, is a non-binary hero, taking inspiration from the musical and cultural icon, David Bowie.
Set to launch on PlayStation and Xbox later this month, Crash Team Rumble will see the studio’s first attempt at incorporating original heroes into the series.
A Rockstar Born from Rebellion
An ardent fan of rock ‘n’ roll, Catbat is portrayed as an escapee from the clutches of the game’s main villain, Dr. Neo Cortex. The character’s introduction comes along with an engaging comic story. Notably, Catbat will be voiced by Erika Ishii, a genderfluid actor recognized for their work as Valkyrie in Apex Legends.
In an interview with Kotaku, co-studio head Paul Yan shared insights into the character’s creation. He said, “On the art side, [we had] an interest in this concept, aesthetically, of a David Bowie-like character. A rock star that breaks certain expectations and has a confidence and flair that is just magnetic.”
The Unconscious Evolution of Catbat
Yan also shed light on how Catbat’s non-binary identity naturally evolved during the design process. “Aesthetically, Bowie had this kind of rock star androgynous look that we really loved. As we started to flesh out that character and its design, and we finally got to a point [where] we had a model sheet, as a team, we started referring to Catbat as ‘they’. It was a very organic way of describing that character and that just sat with us throughout.”
Much like Crash, the game’s namesake, Catbat’s origin story revolves around being a victim of Cortex’s nefarious experiments. This backstory is elaborately depicted in a digital comic available on Kotaku, where Catbat escapes from Cortex’s lab, finding refuge and solace in rock music.
Catbat’s Unique Gameplay
As for gameplay, Catbat brings a unique vertical movement capability to Crash Team Rumble, taking full advantage of the game’s expansive arenas.
Creative director Dan Neil explained, “[After] Crash 4 we were more careful in our metrics to make sure that everything was really, really tight because it’s a very controlled experience. There was a great excitement within the team moving into Crash Team Rumble with the more open arenas to allow players a sense of mobility and looseness in their capacity to get high in the air that Catbat provides.”
Crash Team Rumble is an arena game where two teams of four collect Wumpa Fruit and defend their goals against the opposing team. The game was leaked earlier in March before its official reveal.
With a focus on diversity and inclusivity, Yan stated, “Crash Team Rumble, at its core, is a multiplayer game focused on an expanding cast of heroes, and we want to make sure that as that cast grows, it covers new ground, whether that’s mechanically in a design space, aesthetically, its silhouette, its colour space. And I think gender representation is just another vector here that we want to explore in that cast as it grows.”