IGN Review of Crash: Mind Over Mutant
It's cause for concern when nobody wants to step forward and claim credit for developing a Nintendo DS game. In nearly every DS title (and honestly, in 99% of games produced in this decade), the developer gets placed in either a boot-up splash screen, or – at the very least – in the credits scroll somewhere in the product. Oh, sure, we know that Vivendi/Activision's responsible for publishing Crash: Mind Over Mutant, and Radical Entertainment developed the console versions of the game, but the DS? Handheld games are usually outsourced to other teams, and most of these teams at least want to get their names out there. Click on "credits" and you'll surf through pages and pages and pages of names from Executive Producer at Activision to the PR representatives and marketing folk before you even get to the lead programmer on the DS project. If I were to hanker a guess, it'd be clear to me that the names were buried for one reason: Crash: Mind Over Mutant is an embarrassingly bad game.
Okay, it's not downright abysmal, but Mind Over Mutant is definitely a very poor attempt at continuing the Crash franchise on the Nintendo DS. For whatever reason Vivendi/Activision/Radical pulled Amaze off the project this year after the team's impressive work on Crash of the Titans last year, and in its place handed the reigns over to a group that has apparently disavowed any connection to its final project.
I'd probably be embarrassed, too: what the team created isn't on par with the side-scrolling Crash Bandicoot games that Vicarious Visions created on the Game Boy Advance a half decade ago. That's the direction the team went with Crash: Mind Over Mutant, a purely side-scrolling affair that, yes, brings Crash Bandicoot close to his platforming roots on the original PlayStation system back in the late 90s. But this Nintendo DS effort feels so very uninspired and almost lifeless in its execution, almost as if the team stopped trying after it managed to get its engine to render 3D characters on top of 2D backgrounds.
Yes, it's got the ability to "jack" onto a variety of creatures just like the console versions – and last year's Crash of the Titans on all systems – and yes, it's got a focus on platforming as well as combat. But the designers just didn't care to create anything beyond boring level layouts; half the game you can simply run and jump over any enemy that gets in your way. There's rarely any incentive to stop and fight, and when there is, it's forced, random, and extraordinarily uninspired: you can't move onto the next area until you defeat all the enemies on the screen. The level designs are rigid and boring so that there's really nothing keeping your interest just to see what's coming up later in the game. If the designers can't show you anything cool right from the start, how could they expect you to actually want to progress?
On top of the drab and dull adventure are some lame touch-screen focused mini-games that just aren't worth your time because they've been done and done better in first-generation DS products.
©2008-10-28, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved