Interview by: HP Zoner, JumpButton, Smaz, Venusy, Lijik, Keiji Dragon, Mecha, CBFan, InsaneStar, and Kobb.
There are many interviews with the developers which usually consist of the same old questions, never quite revealing what the fans really want to know. Logically, the best way to fix this is by having the fans interviewing the developers. There we go, then! Some of the members from the Crash Mania forum have interviewed Radical Entertainment, so read on to find out more about Mind Over Mutant.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview. The fan community is very happy that you're willing to answer our questions about the upcoming game, Mind Over Mutant.
How did you decide what to improve and what to keep the same?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: We started this game immediately after Titans, so there were a lot of great ideas that we just hadn't managed to squeeze into the last game. For example we were pleased by how much our play testers liked the Titans, and it was obvious that they didn't like leaving them behind after winning an epic battle with them. So that concept, of keeping your Titans, became a priority for Mind over Mutant. Our other source of inspiration is the fans. We know that you've wanted to play Coco for a while. We've seen all the requests for free-roaming (I mean free-romping!) level design. We know you love the old characters like N.Brio. We can't fit everything in each game, but our job is basically to make you happy. Pretty sweet, huh?
Q: In what ways do the Titans differ in this game? For example, we know Crash can store them in his pocket, and that they have special abilities for platforming sections. Can you explain this aspect a bit more in detail?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: We really wanted to expand the non-combat gameplay possibilities. Crash has some new moves too, but he was already good at platforming. So the obvious place to look was the enemies. Not only can you take the enemies with you, but in many cases you require a titan's power to solve a puzzle. So you might need to freeze an ice-bridge to cross water with Ratcicle. Use RhinoRoller to spin through a loop-de-loop. Or use Grimly to slow down time itself in order to get over a spinning bridge. The titans are your keys to unlocking the secrets of Wumpa Island.
Q: Any favourite enemies coming back?
Bob Churchill, Lead Combat Designer: Yes definitely. We have given our old favourites a fresh lick of paint and some new unique moves. My personal favourite is Magmadon, I love his slower more powerful wrestling style and something just resonates with the way he looks.
Q: How many Titans are there? And how many of them are completely new?
Bob Churchill, Lead Combat Designer: Apparently I'm not at liberty to say… something to do with Whumpa Island's National Security. I can say that there are new and wild Titans in this game with even more special powers than before like Telekinesis, Time Control and even Flashlight swallowing.
Q: Tell us more about Crash's digging.
Des Hinkson, Lead Level Designer: We wanted to explore a little more of Crash's bandicoot roots on this game - and giving him a dig ability did the job nicely. There's a lot of potential in his more animal qualities – we're just scratching the surface here with new ways for Crash to explore his world.
Q: What do the oddly-coloured Mojo spheres do?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: The pink mojo are worth five times the regular ones. There are other bonus mojo colors to be found in secret areas. Of course, to truly maximize your rewards you'll have to fight well to ratchet up your mojo multiplier, which can result in as much as a 40X bonus. Skilled fighters can use this system to unlock upgrades quickly.
Q: There's a golden stopwatch in one of the screenshots. What is its purpose?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: The stopwatch triggers a time-limited nanogame. This is a timed bonus objective that happens simultaneously with your core mission goals. You might have the opportunity to collect objects, or break things, within the time limit to earn bonuses. There's no penalty for failing a nanogame but it's one of a layer of background objectives that gives you more to do.
Q: Do you start with all the upgrades from the previous game, or do you have to regain them along with the new ones?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: In most cases you start with the upgrades from Crash of the Titans, you don't have to unlock them again. Rare exceptions are moves that are too powerful to have at the beginning of a game, like Crash's unlimited spin attack. The enemy upgrades are a new feature to Mind over Mutants.
Q: What power-ups can we expect?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: Crash's famous red runners can be temporarily powered up into a superkick (which, strangely enough, you acquire by finding a Red Running Shoe item in the game). There's also a new Quad Damage super punch powerup which can be used by Crash and by the Titans. There's the 2X mojo multiplier from last game, but now it combines with the combat multiplier system, for a theoretical maximum 40X multiplier bonus. There are powerups to restore enemy special meters, Crash and enemy health, and last but not least the mystical Golden Wumpa Fruit.
Q: Are there any unlockable skins in this game? If so, do all of them grant Crash special powers?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: There are Crash skins, but we also wanted to expand the reward system in other areas. So for the first time since the Playstation 1 era – and if I'm not mistaken, Crash Mania is the first to know this – you can go inside Crash's house! There you can access all your rewards including skins, concept art, enemy bios, and you can even watch the game movies on Crash's TV.
Q: Coco is fully playable in this game with a second controller. Is there anything that differentiates her from Crash?
Nick Unden, Lead Animator: Definitely, because Coco has a really capable and confident personality, we wanted to set her apart from Crash and compliment him at the same time. In particular we wanted Coco to have a unique fighting style. Crash's fight style is very fluid and whole-body. Coco is a little more controlled so we gave her sharper moves with a bit of a Kung Fu influence. We also added some fun new idles that are totally her style.
Q: Are there bosses again? If so, are they fought the same way as the previous game? (Jacking mutants, stunning the boss, Jacking the boss.)
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: There are still jackable bosses, but the design philosophy behind boss battles in Mind over Mutant is quite different. Each boss is a kind of puzzle for a Titan's power that you have acquired and used by that point in the game. The challenge is to figure out how to use that power to your advantage. So the boss challenges are more intelligent this year, rather than the peak combat skills they required in Titans.
Q: "Free-romping" is one of the most awaited features in the game. In what significant ways do you think it will affect the overall gameplay?
Des Hinkson, Lead Level Designer: "Free-romping"? Oh that! Yes, that will change things quite a bit. Basically we've thrown away the restrictions of past games where you could only play with Crash through areas from start to finish. Instead we've opened up the world for you to explore. It works like this – as you play you'll come across forks in your path, and hub areas all over where you can decide where you want go. You might even decide to go back and find a mutant that you wanted to pocket for a fight or a puzzle you noticed - sometimes you'll come across a dead end that requires you to solve a problem elsewhere before you can get past it. You can choose to follow the story and see where it leads you or ignore the story for a while and explore the way you want.
Crash's world has become a living breathing world with events happening in different parts of the world whether you are there or not. That means that your experience in each part of the game will be a little different when you explore them at different times. Crash will be romping like he's never romped before and I think you'll be pleased about how freely things change from romp to romp.
Q: Crash of the Titans had a large predominance of combat over platforming, as it was one of the game's showcase features. Does one aspect win over the other in this game? If so, which one?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: The combat is refined and improved and still plays a role, but we've made a conscious effort to expand non-combat gameplay opportunities. This means things like using enemy powers to solve puzzles, and Crash's new platforming moves. Crash of the Titans had about a 70/30 combat to platforming split. In Mind over Mutant we've achieved closer to 50/50, which we hope will please all our fans.
Q: Do we have control over the camera and a first person view option (like in Tag Team Racing)?
Joe McGinn, Lead Designer: We considered full camera control for this game but decided against it for three reasons. For one, the graphics can look a lot better because we can build more detail into the things we know you can see. On the gameplay side the combat works well with a fixed camera because you can concentrate on the characters and what they're doing without having to baby-sit the camera. Last but not least, a fixed camera means we can stay in fullscreen graphics in coop mode. If you have manual camera control you are pretty much forced to go to split-screen.
Q: Are any locations from the past games returning?
Des Hinkson, Lead Level Designer: You'll get to explore more of the lesser know areas that surround Whumpa island and see what's happened now the mutants have spread throughout the lands and cultivated their own societies. You'll also be able to explore some new paths through some more familiar territory. I can't say any more than that for now.
Q: How was the decision of bringing back Nitrus Brio?
Chris Mitchell, Game Designer and Writer: I'd had a voice actor in mind for N.Brio for a long time now and always liked his little personality issues so it was fun to put the two together. I was very pleasantly surprised by how excited Crash fans are about running into N.Brio again. I think he's really funny and it's great having him in the series again.
Q: Can you tell us if there are there any other returning characters? (Crunch, Nina, N. Gin, etc.?)
Chris Mitchell, Game Designer and Writer: I wish I could answer this question! I really really wish I could say that we maybe almost certainly might or might not have some of the aforementioned characters in this game we may or may not be working on in the future and/or past. But I can't say that so there.
Q: Radical is known for giving even the most common of enemies a lot of humourous lines. Will we see more of that in this game?
Chris Mitchell, Game Designer and Writer: Oh definitely, more than last time. If had to put a guesstimate on size I'd say Last Time < This Time.
Q: Any new voice actors?
Chris Mitchell, Game Designer and Writer: Oh my word yes! Very very funny people too, the absolute tops in voice acting today. When people see our cast list they say things like 'really?' and 'wow!' and 'That must have been expensive!'. I then agree with all three statements.
Q: Who is developing the DS version? What key differences does that version have?
Glenn Dphrepaulezz, Associate Producer: Tose is developing the DS version of Mind Over Mutant out of their offices in Kyoto. They have enormous DS experience and that legacy helped us decide on the key differentiating feature: 2D-Platforming. We chose to venture away from using the gameplay style of the console skus to make a great game focusing on the strengths of the DS itself. In addition to the focus on the 2D-Platforming gameplay style, Mind over Mutant for the DS uses Titans found throughout the game to solve puzzles as well as battle. Each of the Titans the player finds will begin as low-level, young Titans that the player can level up as he/she progresses through the game. As the Titans level up, they become stronger, change in appearance, and gain new abilities to provide a different twist to Titans within Mind Over Mutant.