Crash Bandicoot Mutant Island


  • Title: Crash Bandicoot Mutant Island
  • Genre: 2D Platformer
  • Platform: J2ME
  • Release date: 2009
  • Developer: Glu Mobile


Mutant Island is an old-school 2D platformer with lots of running, jumping, and exploring. The premise is simple enough. Cortex has built a giant robot and is hypnotizing all the bandicoots in Crash's island with mysterious headsets. The game's plot may be a rehash of Crash of the Titans and Mind Over Mutant, but make no mistake — it has very little to do with those two games and easily stands out on its own.

There are four main types of environments: jungle, icy, volcanic, and castle. The level art and the backgrounds are full of neat details, such as butterflies floating about or creatures peeking from inside trees. All of the pixel art is done from scratch and the sprites have fluid animations that give the game a very cartoonish feel. Crash himself is very humorous, and he shows a wide array of emotions even on such a small screen. Stylistically, he looks like a mix between his original self and his Crash of the Titans design.

Throughout the game, Crash will be able to make use of his many abilities to get through obstacles. Other than running, sprinting and jumping, Crash is able to climb up certain walls, jump between poles, swing from vines, and wall-kick to climb vertical structures. Using these abilities allows for diversity, but the real winner here is the level design. Stuff like giant hand catapults to vaccum tubes makes Mutant Island a unique Crash Bandicoot game and keeps the levels fresh.

All levels are full of multiple paths you can take, and different paths have their own rewards too. Also worth noting is how there isn't a single bottomless pit in sight. If you fall off a ledge, you'll just end up on a different path without losing a life, with your only penalty being landing on an area that is either filled with enemies or deprived of collectibles. You also have infinite lives to get through the game and checkpoints placed in the middle of the levels. The game avoids tons of frustration this way.

The game practically begs you to revisit old levels with so much to explore, which you can do from the island map screen. You've got your standard collectible Wumpa fruits (which let you activate a special move when you've collected enough of them), secret passages to find, switches to trigger, hypnotized bandicoots to save, and a few crates to break here and there. There are Aku Aku masks hidden in secret passages too: the regular ones give you an extra heart for the remainder of your journey, whereas the golden ones permanently increase your strength. Lastly, there are some judo outfits that give Crash new special attacks. Unfortunately, the game does have one major flaw concerning progress: beating the final boss erases your save for no reason. Not a very satisfying reward. In other words, to get everything in the game, you must never beat the final boss.

Speaking of administering royal beatings, Crash can attack his enemies using his classic spin attack as well as some downright hilarious melee moves, which the game handles really well — whenever an enemy is on-screen, just press the attack key to make Crash pummel it. Crash automatically locks on to an enemy when you do this, so if he's not close enough, he will actually run up to it on his own, making combat a surprisingly smooth experience for old phones with keypads. Enemies don't take a lot of hits to defeat either, so fights in this game are short, sweet, and simple. Crash's health is measured in hearts, which can be picked up to replenish it.

Right now you're probably wondering if the game has controllable enemies, considering it borrows the concept of melee fighting from Crash of the Titans. The answer is yes, with a twist. Unlike the mutants in Crash of the Titans, these enemies are actual titans as tall as skyscrapers. There are only 3 of them in the game, but thanks to how Mutant Island handles them, this is no way a shortcoming. Let's start from the top...

The 3 titans are legendary creatures based on different elements: earth, ice and fire. To find them, you need to collect key fragments and unlock special doors. Each titan is slumbering behind one of those doors, and once you step in, you will need to fight them. These fights are divided in several phases: first you need to avoid the titan's attacks. When it becomes enraged, it will stomp the ground with its feet, launching Crash in the air and giving you a chance to latch on the nasty ol' monster. Climb up to the top and an indicator will appear on the titan's ticklish areas. Using a feather, you must tickle the titan in order to tame it, all while avoiding its attacks. It's a fun and very humorous way to befriend these magical beings.

After a titan has been tamed, you will be able to summon it any time you want, wherever you are. You obviously won't be able to control a titan that large, so it shrinks down to about three times Crash's size, letting you hitch a ride on their backs. When you're in control of a titan, there are two things you need to remember: you won't be able to jump and your titan will get eventually tired. Each titan has an energy bar that slowly depletes whenever you're using controlling it, and it goes down much faster with each hit it takes. When the bar drops down to nothing, the titan will disappear to get some rest. Titans not in use at the moment are always resting, so they recover automatically. This makes it impossible to lose a titan after you've tamed it, so it remains your companion for the rest of the game, letting you summon any of the three at any time as long as they're up to it. This is a perfect take on the monster storage mechanic introduced in Mind Over Mutant.

As for their abilities, titans are obviously stronger than Crash, but they can also use special attacks against enemies and obstacles (getting through sturdy blockages is pretty much the reason you need them in the first place). They also have their own weak points, such as the poor earth titan's fear of ground moles.

Overall, Mutant Island is nothing short of a good surprise. Mobile games based on a popular license are often of mediocre quality, serving more as a quick cash-grab than something substantial, but Mutant Island is fun, functional, and has a super-neat presentation. It's easily the best mobile Crash Bandicoot platformer.

The good

  • Excellent level design
  • Lots of collectibles
  • Crash's many abilities are easy to pull off
  • Combat is simple and fun
  • Charming 2D graphics
  • The boss fights are amusing
  • You get to keep all three titans permanently and summon them at will

The bad

  • Beating the game erases your progress for no reason
  • The game can be a bit short if you're used to Crash Bandicoot on consoles

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