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Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant

For: DS   Also on: PSP


Product: Crash Bandicoot: Mind over Mutant | Developer: Radical Entertainment | Publisher: Activision Blizzard | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Adventure, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Crash Bandicoot: Mind over Mutant DS, thumbnail 1
Mutation - as we all know from comic books and movies - is either totally beneficial, or completely destructive. You're either going to wake up with a bit of a headache and the ability to shoot lasers from your eyes, or you're going to look in the mirror and find you're as ugly as sin and will be shunned by society for the rest of your natural life. Unfortunately for Crash Bandicoot, his superhero days seem some way off.

Sure enough, the little guy is doing what he does best in Mind Over Mutant - jumping on crates, collecting Wumpa fruit and talking to a floating voodoo mask. Crash might have changed a little over those years of kart racing and console changes, but he's still a platformer at heart.

The setup for this particular outing is so bizarre it barely warrants a mention - something about a helmet that brainwashes people and what the game refers to as 'some evil place' - and that doesn't really matter, because most gamers are going to hit that big button that says 'Skip' and proceed right on down to the game itself. The Crash games are, and have always been, about having lots of very silly fun.

But with a series this long-running, you do need a hook, so this time it's mutant beasts you can defeat, capture and ride into battle. It's not exactly cute and cuddly, but it's good, clean fun at the very least. So every level you leap around is populated by tiny creatures and the occasional mutant will crop up too - bigger, and harder to stop. With enough jumping and hammering of buttons however, you're able to stun them for long enough to leap on their back and take control.

It's still standard platforming fare even when you're commanding a hulking great monstrosity - leaping across chasms, dodging enemies and special boss characters.

The other nice thing about Crash games is their dedication to replayability. Mind Over Mutant is no exception, with plenty of bonus levels to unlock, special Gems to obtain, and a modest collection of minigames that can be accessed from the main menu. Of course, all of this is optional, and it's quite simple to charge through the game without taking much notice of it at all if that's what you want to do.

In fact, charging through is strangely effortless. The mutants are stupendously powerful, even more so once you've collected enough 'mojo' to upgrade their strengths, which makes most encounters a complete breeze. You'll only occasionally need to dismount, and unless your mutant gets killed, he'll follow you around through the game even if you die while on him.

So despite the game's many levels, you might find yourself at the end credits before too long, and that's going to feel disappointing no matter how much you've missed out. It's not just lazy level design that hurts here - navigation is clumsy whether you're playing as the bandicoot himself or one of his mutant captives, so there are very few situations where Crash needs to get off his mount. It's all very well having brilliantly designed bonus levels; the reality is that most young gamers are likely to plough through and see very few of them.

Graphically, Crash isn't much either. Two-dimensional platformers that look as splotchy as Crash on a handheld that's managed such beauties as the Final Fantasy remakes stands out as something we shouldn't be seeing on the DS in 2008. A third dimension might have saved the level design too, but as it stands, it feels old, and overly simple. While it might do its job as a side-scroller, it still doesn't mean it's much fun.

Of course, Crash has some of his old charm left - most deaths are accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek animation, and the game sounds bright, fun and lively - but everything new feels badly thought out and none of it really comes together to form a complete experience. You can change Crash's costume and give him bonuses to various attacks, but little makes the levels more interesting.

All in all then, this is another poor seasonal outing for the Crash franchise. If you absolutely must follow the latest story from Wumpa Island, then Mind Over Mutant is a fairly playable platformer. But those expecting it to entertain someone on Christmas Day should look elsewhere to avoid disappointment.
Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 3 December 2008
Repetitive, ugly and very, very simple for most of its lifespan; Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant won't frustrate, but he won't entertain for long either
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