|System: X360, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Radical Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
Sony's decision to continue supporting the PlayStation 2, and not make the PlayStation 3 fully backward compatible, was hard to understand at first. But, there's one big advantage to it: since Nintendo's latest console isn't all that much more powerful than last-generation systems, it's not hard to port most Wii games to the PS2. A recent example of this is Crash: Mind Over Mutant, which Radical Games first developed for the Wii, then scaled the graphics to fit other systems. Even without the Wii controls to make the title more interactive, it's a pleasure to play. It could revitalize Crash Bandicoot who, like Sonic the Hedgehog, had a good run in the '90s only to get lost in a clutter of sub-par titles.
That's not to say the game is unusually innovative or perfectly executed. Most of its best features are cribbed, sometimes shamelessly, from elsewhere. There are plenty of annoying quirks and oversights. In the end, though, it's a fun play and a worthy buy for any fan of 3-D platforming beat-'em-ups with a touch of humor.
Playing Mind Over Mutant, three other games come to mind. The first is Super Mario Galaxy (SMG). The second is Earthworm Jim. The third, oddly enough, is Halo.
The game evokes SMG much less on the PS2 than it does on the Wii (the Wii version's controls are almost directly stolen from SMG), but many similarities are still there. It's a platforming title where the main character runs around collecting Star Bits, er, pieces of "mojo," and likes to hit enemies with his spin attack. Sometimes, bad guys fire projectiles at him, and he has to hit them back with said spin attack. He can combine his spin with a jump to go higher, et cetera.
To be fair, Mind Over Mutant does add a few elements to the SMG formula. For one, the combat system is a little more involved. By timing button presses correctly, Crash can dodge attacks and respond with powerful counterattacks. (There's a tutorial on this, but the instructor doesn't tell you whether you're early or late, so it takes some experimentation.) Each large enemy has a set of stars near it, which fill up a little each time you land a blow. If you stop hitting him for too long, the stars slowly un-fill, meaning you can't hang back and take only the easy shots.
Also, when you defeat a Mutant (particularly large enemies), you can jump on its back and control it. These characters have special talents, ranging from telekinesis to raw power, that you'll need to solve many of the game's puzzles (some of which are a little tricky and unintuitive considering the young target demographic). There's also a touch of RPG, as picking up enough mojo bits will "level up" Crash and his Mutants.
The game's art style and story fall in line with previous Crash games, which drew their Saturday-morning-cartoon aesthetic and emphasis on humor from titles like Earthworm Jim.
Visually, the characters are presented in two ways. First are the 2-D cartoon cutscenes, which are quite funny in a giddy sort of way and look absolutely terrific. As soon as the gameplay starts, though, it's a bit jarring; the characters are drawn in a completely different style, which almost makes it seem like the cartoons and the game are two separate entities. If you pay close enough attention, you'll notice that each individual cartoon cutscene is drawn in a unique style as well, making everything look even less cohesive.