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Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island

For: Mobile

Crash recovery

Product: Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island | Developer: Vivendi Games Mobile | Publisher: Glu Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 918KB | Reviewed on: N95 other handsets | Version: Europe
Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island Mobile, thumbnail 1
Being a console icon from the 1990s is a bit like being a pop star from the 1990s. Once seen as young, fresh and cutting-edge, you’re now reduced to releasing mediocre cash-ins to an ever-dwindling fan-base.

Just ask Sonic, who can’t seem to buy a decent game nowadays – except on the handheld systems.

Following in the footsteps of the blue hedgehog’s recent (and largely successful) mobile rehabilitation comes Crash Bandicoot, one-time pin-up for the mighty Sony PlayStation brand. After the dodgy Crash of the Titans and some admittedly decent side-projects, Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island is a return to the form and genre that gave the orange marsupial his initial bout of success.

This is old-skool platforming, plain and simple. You run around twisty levels, leaping from vines, sliding down slopes and collecting lots and lots of arbitrary knick-knacks. In fact it’s easy to be underwhelmed based on your first few minutes with the game. Give it enough time, though, and its charms will soon emerge.

For one thing, it controls beautifully. Unlike many of its rivals, you’ll never find yourself hankering for a more traditional control set-up. Negotiating the gaps and traps here is painless and – more to the point – great fun.

It also looks great, with detailed sprites and some charming incidental animations, like birds twittering in the trees. The end-of-level bosses, meanwhile, are impressively rendered Titans that stand several screens tall. These must be beaten in order to bring them under your control, which is just one of many neat touches that keep Mutant Island interesting.

Chief among its qualities, though, is the excellent level design, with a nicely judged ebb and flow to each stage. There’s just enough variety here to keep you pushing on further into the game.

A hint of repetition does sneak in as you make your way to the second island, though, and there are a few annoying difficulty spikes, not to mention a slightly clunky button-mashing combat system.

But while Mutant Island never quite scales the heights of the likes of Castle of Magic, it stands as a successful rehabilitation for Crash and one of the mobile’s better platformers.
Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 17 July 2009
Excellent level design and tight controls combine to make Crash Bandicoot: Mutant Island one of the best mobile platformers in recent times, and a massive improvement over its predecessor
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