Crash: Mind Over Mutant (Nintendo DS) - Overview

Continuing its predecessor's trend of having unique portable versions, Mind Over Mutant comes with its own rendition for the Nintendo DS developed by TOSE. This game has less in common with the DS version of the previous game and more with its Game Boy Advance iteration. If you're familiar with that game, you can see where this is going.

Compared to Crash of the Titans on the DS, every step has been taken backwards.

After watching the dull cutscene that introduces you to this title (the first of two in the entire game), you'll probably be wondering two things: one, why were the characters moving like they were made of jello, and two, why did they choose a side-scrolling format when the previous DS game was a 3D platformer? Indeed, Mind Over Mutant DS is a side-scroller, and not a very good one.

The game's graphics are kind of messy. Crash and the mutants use 3D models, but given the fact that this is a side-scroller, you'll be looking at them from afar. On the DS's low screen resolution, this makes them appear as garbled mess of pixels. The backgrounds are pre-rendered and so are the smaller enemies, but they look about as fuzzy as the 3D characters. The soundtrack is literally composed of poorly recycled tunes from the console version of Crash of the Titans. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other than the logo, there is nothing in the game that tells you you're playing Mind Over Mutant. The characters don't even have the new designs from the console version and instead look like they came straight out of Crash of the Titans. Since it has no original music to speak of either, you've got to wonder just how long the developers actually spent working on this game.

The level design is one of the many dull things in the game.

The level design is linear and anything but imaginative. There's nothing to distinguish a level from another in the same world (not even visually), and despite the return of traditional crates, nothing interesting ever occurs in any of the game's five worlds. Some levels have alternate paths and exits, which lead to secret levels, but they're as bland as all the others. There are also some bonus segments like in the classic games, which are filled with nitro crates and reward you with costumes. Different costumes have different effects on Crash's abilities. There are no extra lives, however, as the game doesn't use a lives system. Lose and you're simply kicked back to the map screen.

Crash controls similarly to the classic games but with the added combat introduced in the previous game. This is limited to a light and a heavy combo, though, so expect combat to get repetitive very fast. It won't take long until you want to avoid enemies instead of fighting them, especially given how numerous they are and how many hits they can take.

Like in the console version, the jacking ability returns to let you control the mutants you beat up, and this time you can store one of these enemies in Crash's pocket at a time, meaning you can switch between Crash and a mutant at will via touchscreen. Defeating regular enemies gives you Mojo to upgrade the mutants' abilities, but it's hardly worth going through the hassle, given how less frustrating it is to skip combat whenever possible. If you're playing as Crash, collecting enough Mojo will let you become stronger for a short while, but that's usually a bit useless.

Combat in this game gets repetitive to the point where you'll want to avoid it.

There is only one mutant species for each world, making up for a less than spectacular total of... five. Not only does this make levels even more repetitive, but it also makes it a chore to bring a mutant from a different world into a level, since you'll have to go back and forth. It also implies revisiting old levels to upgrade other mutants if you're so inclined. Thanks for that.

The worst part is that mutants aren't even that useful in the first place. Crash is more agile than any of them, which contrasts the Game Boy Advance version of Crash of the Titans, where he was basically useless. You can even transfer Crash's Mojo to the mutant you're holding, so the only time you'll want to control one of these is when fighting one of the game's horrible bosses.

The bosses in this game are the worst in the series. They're all uninteresting, unbelievably cheap, super strong, and can kill you with just a few hits, not to mention they have a tendency to go out of range for long periods of time while harassing you. Your only chance of defeating them is with a mutant, but since it'd make too much sense to have those in boss levels, you have to go back to a regular level to get one (rinse and repeat any time you lose). Mutants are everywhere when you don't need them, but when you do... Oh, and good luck trying to beat the final boss. Not only is it insanely overpowered, but it can fully regenerate its health at will. You're not going to beat it unless the planets are perfectly aligned.

Some of the game's stylistic choices have nothing to do with Crash Bandicoot.

The developers clearly didn't know what to make of Crash Bandicoot. The mutants and enemies that don't come from other games are seriously weird. They're not funny or cartoony and just feel way out of place. The final boss and the creepy/annoying Psycho-Mandrake, in particular, would feel more at home in a Japanese RPG. The story is also incredibly messy, especially when you consider there are only 2 cutscenes in the entire game. It's absolute nonsense and you're never given any reason for running around all over the place. You can kind of guess the general gist of it if you've played the console version, but even then it's pure garbage and it makes no sense on its own.

Lastly, there are 3 optional mini-games for taking your mind out of the terrible main game. You can roll on top of a Rhinoroller to pick up falling fruit, kick soccer balls at Cortex's airship and slide Crash across platforms while avoiding bombs and throwing them back at enemies. All mini-games can be played by up to 4 people, and there's a multiplayer mode where you and your friends can fight each others with mutants from the main game (not that anyone would want to do that).

A work's quality is subjective, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who actually enjoys this trainwreck. Mind Over Mutant DS somehow manages to be boring, repetitive, frustrating, and badly designed, all at the same time and in large doses. It's the absolute worst Crash Bandicoot game on any console and an insult to even hardcore fans who've stuck with the franchise through thick and thin.

The good

  • It's no longer being sold

The bad

  • Dull, bland, uninspired visuals
  • Mind-numbingly boring level design
  • Repetitive combat
  • Overabundance of enemies
  • The new enemies look out of place
  • Mutants are largely useless
  • Only 1 mutant species per world and only 5 total
  • Cheap boss fights, particularly the last one
  • The music solely consists of poorly converted tracks from Crash of the Titans
  • Nonsensical story conveyed through a couple of badly animated cutscenes
  • By the way, there are Cortex statues with naked butts that swell when you hit them, which is mandatory to advance. Some of these are also used as decoration and fart fire. Why

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