Here's a mind-boggling statistic - this year's Crash Bandicoot game will mark the fifteenth installment of the series in just over a decade's time. Fifteen. What could Mind Over Mutant, the newest adventure of the marsupial omnivore (seriously, look it up), possibly do that we haven't seen... well, fifteen times before?
You might be surprised, especially if you haven't tried a Crash game in several years. Mind Over Mutant breaks free from many of the tried and tired formulas in platforming. For example, you no longer have to progress through levels in a strict, linear fashion. Crash's environment is now semi-open world, with themed areas you can enter or leave as you like. Getting sick of the ice kingdom? Walk on over to the desert, or take a trip to the phantom underground.
Enemies are also pretty different. You don't just dispatch them and forget them; you can "jack" them like you would a vehicle in Grand Theft Auto. Yes, Crash will actually climb aboard the monstrous baddie and ride them around like a dejected pony. What's demeaning for them, however, is useful for the player. Crash also gains the enemy's powers, which are necessary for tougher combat and for overcoming inventive obstacles.
Need to get through a gnarly loop-de-loop? Jack an armadillo-type creature and roll right on through. Need to pass an impassable river? Jack a frost monster and tell him to freeze the water for you. Need to get across a cavernous gap and avoid the falling debris in between? Jack a mystical phantom, slow down time and use the debris that is now floating in midair to traverse the fall.
The final trick up Crash Bandicoot's non-existent sleeve is cooperative play. A second player can join the experience at any time. You can even jack your buddy, with one person controlling the movement and another controlling the shooting. Since Crash is still undeniably a kids' franchise, this enables parents and kids to work together. Precious.
If you did play the last Crash Bandicoot game, Crash of the Titans, many of these features will be familiar. Your reaction then will most likely be the same now. Those who haven't controlled a marsupial omnivore in ages, though, might discover more than expected.
Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant releases this Fall on Wii, DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and PSP.
Apr 28, 2008