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Crash: Mind Over Mutant - Overview

A direct sequel to Crash of the Titans, Mind Over Mutant was Radical Entertainment's final game in the serie. It shares the same style and gameplay as its predecessor, but with a greater balance between combat and platforming. Read on to find out which things Mind Over Mutant improves on, as well as which steps it takes backwards.

Crash rides on the back of a large, mutant, bipedal porcupine in the middle of a deserted wasteland.Jacking is back and now comes with extra benefits on top of combat advantages.

Mind Over Mutant was released only one year after Crash of the Titans, and both games are graphically and stylistically similar (though the gloss on the characters from the Xbox 360 version is gone). One thing that sets the game apart from its predecessor is that most of the cutscenes use 2D animation, each in a completely different style, ranging from classic monochromatic cartoons to anime parodies. While there's no real reason or logic behind this decision, the animation is great, and it's fun to watch Crash go through so many different styles just for the heck of it. The music is once again composed by Marc Baril, and it's generally more upbeat and less generic than the previous soundtrack. Let's just hope the enemies don't ruin it for you, given how much of a tendency they have to talk simultaneously or make weird noises all the time.

Jacking is back, so you can once again expect to control the large mutants you beat up. These are more interesting this time because their usefulness isn't limited to combat. For starters, they can actually jump now (a feature that was sorely missed in the previous game), and many of them have abilities that can help you reach new areas. For example, the Ratcicle can freeze or surf on bodies of water, the TK can move blocks with his mind, the Grimly can slow down time, and the Rhinoroller can roll across loops and bowls by gaining momentum. As such, you'll often need to use a mutant's specific powers to open up new areas that you couldn't enter before, including hidden paths and optional tasks. Most of them are easy to use, but the TK's controls are particularly awkward.

Crash runs atop a giant armadillo-like creature in ball form to roll around at high speed.The Rhinoroller rolls at a high speed to overcome obstacles.

Wumpa Island has a sort of cobweb approach to its design, since instead of being either completely linear or open-ended, you start from a central "hub" of sorts that has entrances to different areas. This is okay during your first expedition to a place, but since most areas only one entrance and one exit, you will be doing extensive backtracking during your journey. This is particularly frustrating at certain points in the story when the game decides you need to go from one end of the map to another, revisiting several places along the way. This abhorrent padding is made worse by the absence of a player-controlled camera, since you'll be running towards the screen on many occasions. This whole problem would have been fixed if they'd just let you warp between the conveniently placed save points, but that would have implied creating an actual map instead of the generic and utterly useless landscape picture you're presented with. It's not like the island is particularly big; just badly structured.

Despite its structural problems, Mind Over Mutant boasts more variety than Crash of the Titans. Besides the new mutant abilities, platforming segments are more abundant and original, and Crash has gained a few new abilities to traverse them. For instance, Crash can stick his furry paws in wall dents to climb in any direction, and he has suddenly remembered how to burrow (boy, has it been a while). This can be done whenever you find a hole in the ground, and it's useful for finding hidden goodies and getting under fences or hazardous terrain. While burrowing, the camera switches to a bird's eye view and you have limited perception of Crash's surroundings. Additionally, some areas switch to a side-scrolling perspective for an added focus on platforming.

Crash throws a punch at one of several lab-coat wearing rats who are holding coconuts.Like in Crash of the Titans, hand-to-hand combat plays a large role in the gameplay.

Crash's returning abilities are more or less the same as in the previous game, though there are a few bothersome differences. First is the replacement of the hover spin with a downward thrust. This means you can no longer glide to reach farther places or land more precisely. To make matters worse, the new thrust is weak as an attack, and its only use is to bounce higher from springy platforms. Also gone is the ability to use Aku Aku to slide, which is even more upsetting thanks to the long distances you'll be covering throughout the game. Well, at least they fixed the backflip move, so you won't be doing it by accident all the time anymore.

You can find voodoo dolls in secret areas to unlock concept art and golden Wumpa fruits to increase Crash's health. There are also simple mini-games where you collect stuff and battle arenas. They're completely optional, but you can win big amounts of Mojo if you beat them. You can also take on side-missions to unlock more concept art and, in the Xbox 360 version, get achievements (though all version feature those in an in-game system if you'd like to try them).

Since not all mutants can reach the same places Crash can (and vice-versa), you'll have to switch between characters when the situation demands it. Because of this, you can now store and summon any mutant you've taken control of. It's not as nice as it sounds though, because you can only store up to 2 mutants at a time, and unless you have one of those slots empty, you can't switch back to Crash. This absurd logic means you'll have to dispose of your mutant buddies all the time, provided they don't get killed first.

Crash rides on top of a very large creature made of various different parts both organic and mechanical.Some mutants are special and can be controlled again after Crash tames them.

Not every mutant is out to get you this time. Many of them have developed their own societies since the events from the previous game, so you'll come across a few villages where you can talk to these creatures to advance the story, or jack their heroes to get by (these are special mutants that upgrade separately and look slightly different, but are otherwise the same). Finding the right mutant to overcome an obstacle is a frequent endeavor in the game, but while this is never a problem while playing through the story, mutants change places once you've finished the game for some reason, making it hard to guess where a certain species will appear. Because of this, some side-missions take longer than they should.

Combat has changed a bit compared to Crash of the Titans. Crash's Gyro Jackhammer attack is inexplicably gone, and the manual dodge move has been replaced by a semi-automatic counterattack that simply requires you to press the guard button at the right time. This can instantly incapacitate most mutants with no skill involved, so it can be disappointing to those looking for a more interactive system like in the previous game. A welcome change is that mutants don't gang up on you as much as they did before: when you're surrounded, you'll usually get attacked by a couple of them at most, making things much more fair.

Combos play a more important role now. As before, you can pick up Mojo to improve your combat abilities (there aren't any new ones this time around though, so you just increase your health and attack strength), and chaining combos will multiply the amount of Mojo you get. You can get up to 20 times more Mojo if you chain a lot of combos. If you combine this with the 2x multiplier pick-ups, you can temporarily get a whopping 40x multiplier. Beware, because getting hit or falling off a pit resets your multiplier instantly. Speaking of damage, recent games up to this point alternated between having lives and just doing away with them completely. Thankfully, Mind Over Mutant goes with the latter option. If Crash runs out of health or falls into a pit, you'll just respawn in the immediate vicinity.

Coco and Crash hitch a ride on two large, muscular rats who use their negative body temperature to freeze the water ahead of them and slide across.Two people can play at the same time and help each other out.

Multiplayer was one of the best things to come out of Crash of the Titans, and thankfully, it's back in this game, though with a few changes as well: the second player now has the option to play as Coco instead of a palette swap of Crash. Coco has her own animations and voice, but is otherwise identical. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable versions of the game still force the second player to use Carbon Crash due to hardware limitations, so if you really want to play as Coco, you'll have to pick up the Wii or Xbox 360 version.

The backpack and piggyback mechanics are gone in favor of a more supportive secondary role: when one of the players decides to sit back, the corresponding character will take on the form of a floating mask similar to Aku Aku, enabling that player to shoot chickens, of all things. Some side-missions require 2 players to complete, meaning you can't get 100% by yourself. There are a few optional segments where both players need to make use of their combined weight to avoid tilting a pathway and falling off (though you can do these alone with enough practice). The only real problem with multiplayer is that it's easy for both players to hit each other, resetting the Mojo multiplier. Since the multiplier is essential to getting upgrades in this game, this can sometimes become annoying.

In the end, Mind Over Mutant is a mixed bag. It fixes some of the problems from the previous game, but it also comes with a bunch of new issues of its own. The short length, extensive backtracking, and the fixed camera make this game hard to recommend over a lot of other titles in the series, but there are still many fun elements to be enjoyed alone or with a friend if you have enough patience.

The good

  • Fun 2D animated cutscenes
  • More variety than in Crash of the Titans
  • Mutants are fun to control (minus the TK)
  • Many nooks and crannies to uncover
  • Multiplayer continues to be fun
  • Side-missions will keep you busy for a while

The bad

  • Short length
  • Too much backtracking
  • You can't move the camera, not even when going backwards
  • Crash can no longer slide or glide
  • Awkward controls for the TK mutant
  • No easy access to a lot of areas
  • You can only hold 2 mutants at once
  • You can't switch to Crash when holding 2 mutants
  • The mutants sound annoying

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