Developer: Radical Entertainment
Release Date: October 2008
After last year's Crash of the Titans, Crash Bandicoot and company have returned for more "monster jacking."
While the phrase itself begs to be misused, it does in fact refer to the mechanic where Crash can take control of a sufficiently large monster, letting him ride it around and take advantage of its abilities. The Crash Bandicoot series is usually a little more challenging than you'd expect it to be, given how damned goofy it is and how the protagonist is deliberately dumber than paint, and the monster jacking gives it a bit of variety besides the usual hop and bop.
The mechanic has been improved a bit since its introduction in Crash of the Titans, and now allows you to carry a monster around in your pocket at all times; you can hold onto whichever one of them you prefer instead of just grabbing them from your surroundings.
What's interesting about Mind Over Mutant is that it's a free-roaming, mission-based game, rather than a straightforward, level-based platformer. Your in-game goals are obtained from quest-giver NPCs, and part of the game involves befriending various societies of mutants in order to let you jack into them.
This, in turn, lets you use specific mutants as what Radical Entertainment calls "key bearers," where their abilities will allow you to access new parts of the game world. Various mutants will allow you to roll through obstacles, temporarily stop time, or freeze water, among other things, which opens up new areas.
As usual, Crash is up against his traditional enemy, Dr. Cortex, who's teamed up with the evil Embryo. The plan is to turn everyone into technology addicts by using a new line of PDAs that transmit bad mojo. Crash, for obvious reasons, is immune to the allure of such shiny new things, and must act to stop it.
It's also worth mentioning here that the game has a robust series of Achievements, which are worth gamerscore points on the 360. On every other version of the game, the Achievements are still present, which will allow you to unlock concept art and new character skins by accomplishing them.
Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant is being released for most consoles at this point, but the DS version will be considerably different from the others. It wasn't on display, but it's apparently being developed by the same Japanese team that created Super Princess Peach. That ought to be interesting.
Mind Over Mutant is, well, like most Crash games in that it's better than it sounds or looks. It works simply because it's not broken; it's simple, colorful platforming fun that should appeal to a lot of people. Also, I am apparently 12 years old because the phrase "monster jacking" has not stopped being funny for some time now.
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