We recently got our hands on a review copy of Crash: Mind Over Mutant for Nintendo Wii. Activision’s latest installment of the Crash series follows in some traditional 3D platformer footsteps, but also delivers a element of fun and charm that is more rare in today’s gaming industry.
In Crash:Mind Over Mutant, you’ll find yourself exploring the carefully laid out world of Wumpa. Filled with colorful characters and imaginative environments. One unique difference is that Crash’s camera remains at a fixed plane as you travel through various scenes. This is a convenient effect and eliminates some ugly camera controls commonly seen in other third-person games. Unfortunately, it also causes some difficult perspectives during times where you’ll wish you could get a closer look at the action. Some good examples of this are when you’re trying to make successive platform leaps that go directly away from or towards the camera. Though forgivable, they do happen more often than they should, and harm some of the progressive gameplay.
The biggest draw of Crash’s latest adventure is his ability to control some of the various monsters and mutants he encounters during his adventure. Though there is no apparent reason WHY he has this capacity, it’s a fairly straightforward task. Once you gently beat down a foe, you’ll be able to press down on the D-pad and take over the monster and gain some of their trademark abilities. These mutants are in one of two categories...Melee and Projectile. You can imagine the unique abilities of each category. Whether it’s breathing ice, flying, or pure brute strength, f these mutants will open new paths and be imperative to completing your adventure.
There is an option to play the entire story mode of Crash:Mind Over Mutant with a friend. This fully cooperative mode is a big plus that creates a more social experience for what quickly becomes a lonely single-player game. You and your partner both take control of a Crash clone and can collect mojo, keys and even share captured mutants while the other battles on foot. In case you begin to travel away from each other, player 2 can press down on the D-pad and be immediately teleported back to their partner’s location. There is an additional option for the second player to take the form of Crash’s masked friend and shoot enemies using the Wii Remote pointer reticule. Needless to say this is one of the most enjoyable perks of playing with a friend and being able to switch between both modes at will is a great choice from a gameplay perspective.
Crash:Mind Over Mutant provides some simple yet satisfying controls as you fight and explore your way through the story mode. You can single or double jump with the A button, unload a barrage of punches and kicks with repeated B button presses, and even counter enemy attacks with a well-timed Z button strike. Although these mechanics can be seen by some as over simplified, they are relatively useful as you face off against a myriad of foes small and large. In addition to these basic attacks, Crash can also perform a tornado-like spin maneuver that is great for clobbering enemies and breaking various objects to collect mojo and hidden items. By shaking the Wii remote from side to side, Crash will spin around controllably for a certain period of time. But be careful, performing this maneuver for too long will cause Crash to become dizzy and leave him vulnerable to enemies.
Replay Value: 5/10
There is only a very face-value reason to replay Crash:Mind Over Mutant, which is a bit of a disappointment. If you’re really excited to start the adventure over again, you definitely have the option, but rather than begin a new game, Crash provides a decent amount of unlockable content and collector’s items that you can enjoy by heading back to Crash’s home. This is a good inclusion that encourages exploration of areas some players might otherwise ignore.
In-game graphics and environments are colorful and nicely assembled. Though they aren’t as ornate as some 3D adventures, you’ll still experience pleasant scenery and a satisfying variety of interactive objects. Considering the Wii platform, the character models and animations are also nicely done. Crash’s extending punches and kicks, along with enemies cartoonish attacks contribute to the humor and light-hearted action that will keep a gentle smile on many players faces.
A plus in the overall Crash package are the very creative and amusing cut scenes that you’ll experience from the very start of the game. Though plenty of players overlook these components of a game, they are really worth noting in Crash:Mind Over Mutant due to their subtle charm and entertaining art form. Some of the jokes are cheesy and a good percentage seem better suited for younger audiences, but they can even appeal to the rare Crash fan and deserve a positive moment in the spotlight.
Much of the soundtrack in Crash:Mind Over Mutant is predictable. That isn’t necessarily bad because it lends to the atmosphere and mood changes you’ll experience during your adventure. But when it comes to menu interfaces and a few select frequent-looping songs, there is also a far balance of annoying and/or unpleasant tracks. Because of this, it is hard for the soundtrack to stand out or define any real memorable tunes.
Sound effects follow a similar pattern to the music selection, though the span of good and bad is considerably wider. There are a few sound effects that occur too frequently and are simply obnoxious to be continually exposed to. But, at the same time, there are a few gems uttered from your enemies as you wail on them in true Crash fashion, that are simply too funny to ignore and only encourage you to engage all those pesky foes with an evil grin.
Crash:Mind Over Mutant provides an enjoyable experience for one or two players that are looking for a fun, parseable adventure. Perhaps the biggest problem with the game, however, is that it somehow lacks the enticement to play the game completely through. It’s difficult to determine why this lack of motivation is present, particularly because the gameplay and atmosphere seem to do everything right. Perhaps the issue is that the game does not do enough to be unique or innovative. And since it is part of a category that contains titles like Mario Galaxy, Banjo and Kazooie, and Tomb Raider that’s a difficult task to accomplish. Nevertheless, Crash:Mind Over Mutant is at the very least worth a rental, and is all the more enjoyable with a partner so don’t forget to phone a friend.