Crash: Mind Over Mutant - Overview

A direct sequel to Crash of the Titans, Mind Over Mutant was Radical Entertainment's final game in the series. It shares the same style and gameplay as its predecessor, but with a greater balance between combat and platforming. Let's find out if its predecessor's flaws have been fixed and take a look at the new features it brings.

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

Mind Over Mutant was released just one year after Crash of the Titans, and both games are graphically and stylistically similar. The Xbox 360 is the definite winner this time, since the gloss it added to the characters in the previous game is gone, and the Wii version runs at a disappointing 30 frames per second compared to last time. One quirk unique to this game is that most of the cutscenes use 2D animation, each in a completely different style, ranging from classic monochromatic cartoons to anime parodies. While it's fun to watch Crash go through so many different styles, it seems strangely random, as this doesn't tie in with anything about the game. The music is once again composed by Marc Baril, and it's generally more upbeat and melodic than the previous soundtrack, which felt tense most of the time. Let's just hope the enemies don't ruin it for you, given that they just don't shut up.

Jacking is back, so you can once again control any large mutants you beat up. These guys are more interesting this time because their usefulness isn't limited to combat. For starters, they can actually jump now (a feature that was frustratingly absent in the previous game), and many of them have abilities that can help you reach new areas. For example, the Ratcicle can surf and freeze bodies of water, the TK can move blocks using telekinesis, the Grimly can slow down time, and the Rhinoroller can speed 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, though 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. You start off in a central "hub" of sorts that leads to different interconnected areas. This is okay during your first expedition to a place, but since most areas only have one entrance and one exit, you'll be doing some extensive backtracking in your journey. This is particularly frustrating when the game decides you need to go from one end of the map to another, being forced to revisit 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 had just let you warp between the conveniently placed save points, but then, that would have implied creating an actual map instead of the generic and utterly useless landscape picture you're presented with. It's not that the island is particularly big; it's 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 (including a lot of side-scrolling segments), 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 too. This can be done whenever you find a hole in the ground, and it's useful for finding hidden goodies (such as the returning Mojo pick-ups) 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.

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 and 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 that increase Crash's health. Mojo is still around for you to pick up and upgrade Crash's abilities, but now you can upgrade the mutants' health too. There are also battle arenas and simple mini-games that make you collect stuff, and while they're all optional, you can win big amounts of Mojo if you beat them. Additionally, you can try beating a number of side-missions to unlock more concept art and, in the Xbox 360 version, get Achievements (it's worth noting that all versions feature these side-missions in the form of an in-game checklist, so you can still try to beat them on the Wii and the PlayStation 2).

Since not every mutant 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 empty slot, you can't switch back to Crash. This absurd logic means you'll have to dispose of your mutant buddies all the time, so there goes that thought.

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. You'll also find some heroes who volunteer to let you control them, but they're exactly the same as their brethren besides sporting unique outfits and colors (they also upgrade separately, which just makes them more worthless). 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 can take much longer than they should.

Combat has changed a bit compared to Crash of the Titans. Crash's Gyro Jackhammer attack is inexplicably gone, and if you're playing the Wii version, you can no longer rotate the analog stick and attack to make Crash spin — now you need to shake the Remote, making it awkward to chain this move with combos. 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.

Chaining combos will now multiply the amount of Mojo you get, and you can get up to 20 times more Mojo if you're good. Combine this with the 2x multiplier pick-ups and 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 in Crash of the Titans, and thankfully, it's back in this game. The second player now has the option to play as Coco instead of a palette swap of Crash. Coco has her own voice and animations 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 passive secondary role: when one of the players decides to shy away from the action, 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 balance a wobbling pathway (though you can do these alone with enough patience). 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

  • More variety than Crash of the Titans
  • Most mutants are fun to control
  • Many nooks and crannies to uncover
  • Multiplayer continues to be enjoyable
  • 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
  • Friendly fire resets your Mojo multiplier

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