|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|
The Wii has gotten far more than its share of half-hearted ports and terrible third-party games. It's about time for a multi-platform developer to put some effort into a game's Wii incarnation, and, fortunately, that's just what Radical Entertainment did with Crash: Mind Over Mutant. Indeed, they started with the Wii and then adjusted the graphics to fit other systems. Not only is the game a pleasant surprise for Wii owners, but 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 because the controls and basic gameplay are almost identical. Not only does the Nunchuk stick walk and the A button jump, but shaking the Wii-mote executes a spin attack (Crash spins like a top and can get dizzy, as opposed to Mario's quick swivel), and you can pick up Star Bits, er, pieces of "mojo" by pointing the Wii-mote at them. You can wall jump, jump higher by combining a jump with a spin, etc. Is it possible to plagiarize button and Wii-mote functions? Probably not, but if it were, we'd find this game guilty. That's not necessarily a bad thing, relatively speaking. The last Crash game, Crash of the Titans, made very little use of motion controls, which kind of defeats the purpose of a Wii.
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 presses of the Z button 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 enemy has a set of stars near it, which fill up a little each time you land a blow. If you stop hitting them 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.