Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant Review for Nintendo Wii

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant Review for Nintendo Wii

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.

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant screenshot

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.

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant screenshot

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.

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant screenshot

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.

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.

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant screenshot

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.

The cartoon cutscenes look terrific, but the objects and landscapes aren’t very detailed, and there’s quite a bit of aliasing on HDTVs. 4.5 Control
They’re ripped off from Super Mario Galaxy, but that game’s controls were great. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Terrific voiceover work and decent sound effects, but the music is too repetitive. 4.2

Play Value
This is a lot of fun to play, and it features three difficulty levels and numerous side missions.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Not only can Crash control his enemies when he jacks them, now he can store his favorite monsters in his pocket, upgrade them, and utilize their powers when they are most advantageous.
  • Wumpa Island has a free-romping design that allows players to travel and explore through intersecting worlds, with different gameplay options available depending on what creature you’ve brought along for the ride.
  • Your co-op partner is Crash’s sister, Coco, playable for the first time in the cooperative mode. She brings with her a new tactile treasure hunt ability.
  • Crash has agile dodge and counter moves, and can now dig underground as real-life bandicoots do. Crash can also climb vertical surfaces and jump side-to-side to connected areas.

  • To top