|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|
Also jarring is the drop in graphics quality, especially for those watching on HDTVs; as soon as the cartoons disappear, "jaggies" pop up everywhere (though they're not as pronounced as they are in many other Wii games), and the objects and landscapes aren't very detailed. Nothing is so bad as to ruin the experience, and the water and explosion effects are decent, though.
The plot is that Crash's friends Coco and Crunch have bought masks that were widely marketed as gadgets that could do everything from text message to make French fries. In reality, the masks were a product of Doctor Neo Cortex, who uses them to control minds via "bad mojo." Crash has to fight his way through all sorts of terrain, controlling all sorts of monsters, to defeat the doctor and foil the plan.
It's mainly the cartoons that advance this story, but there's also a lot of voiceover work during gameplay. Aku Aku, a talking wooden mask, gives you guidance through some of the harder techniques and puzzles, and combined, the characters have some 8,500 lines of dialogue. Thanks to the mostly high quality of the writing and acting, it's always at least mildly amusing to play this game, presuming you don't mind losing yourself in a kids' tale.
These little pleasures make it relatively painless to play this game for extended periods of time, and even make it worth putting up with the repetitive and sometimes annoying music. It takes about eight hours to win on the medium ("Tricky") difficulty setting, not counting the side missions and the plenty of quirks you can unearth. (If you set the controller down for long enough, for example, Crash might start making fart noises with his hand and armpit.)
The save system is another function that makes Mind Over Mutant such a joy to play, and here's where it takes cues from Halo. In that classic first-person shooter, you hit checkpoints frequently, and, as a result, never have to beat the same parts over and over again. Mind Over Mutant uses a similar system: there are plenty of (invisible) checkpoints, and so long as you don't turn the console off, you always return to the last one when you die. You have unlimited lives. In addition, save points are sprinkled liberally throughout the world, rarely more than a few checkpoints away. When it's time to put the game down, it's almost always possible to reach a save point quickly. Some puzzles and bosses are plenty challenging, but whenever you fail, you get to start right at that puzzle or boss again.
One last note: throughout the game, a series of mostly forgivable annoyances pop up. The most egregious is the camera, which can't be adjusted and occasionally makes various tasks, especially jumping ones, harder than they need to be. Another problem is that there's no way to warp between the various locations, so you spend a lot of your time backtracking. (These two problems are even worse than the sum of their badness: when backtracking, the camera doesn't switch to stay behind Crash, so sometimes you have to move toward the bottom of the screen, and can run into enemies you couldn't even see a split second ago.) Invisible walls, while necessary in a world as open as this game's, are overused. Also, whereas most games just display a pop-up indicator when your Wii-mote batteries start running low, this one pauses and makes you push A to continue. Since the warnings start coming long before the batteries actually go dead, this is completely unnecessary, not to mention infuriating when it happens during careful jumps.
Set these complaints aside, though, because the Wii is starving for good games. Nintendo's own output has been fantastic, but there's only so much Mario Kart Wii and Twilight Princess most gamers can stomach. Crash: Mind Over Mutant is a worthy contribution to the console's library and a good purchase.
CCC Freelance Writer