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Dr. Muto - PS2 - Review

This certainly has been quite a busy year for fans of platform games, with the release of some delightful titles such as Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus and the highly enjoyable Ratchet and Clank.  Joining their ranks is Midway’s Dr. Muto--a game where a truly twisted mad scientist is the planet’s only hope.

 

Muto’s eccentric behavior has made the man something of an outcast ever since childhood--and why not, the mad genius managed to blow up his school during the science fair and was a laughing stock when he showed up with a robotic girlfriend.  Worse yet, his latest experiment accidentally destroyed his home planet . . . reducing the planet to huge chunks (of which his laboratory currently floats on).  Now, determined to make things right the Doctor sets out to rebuild Planet Midway by gathering resources from nearby planets.  The problem is that many of these planet’s resources are controlled by Dr. Muto’s arch nemesis, the equally crazed Professor Burnital.

 

Like most recent platform games, Dr. Muto relies heavily on the collecting part of this genre.  He must collect all seventeen pieces of the Genitor 9000 in order to rebuild his planet and while he’s at it, collect scrap parts to build gadgets, terra pieces to fuel the machine when it is built and DNA from the fauna found throughout the game. The problem is that the overemphasis on collecting easily draws gamers away from the fun objectives that happen to come up.

 

The controls are pretty basic and wonderfully so since there are things found throughout the game that gives Dr. Muto an extra boost.  Not only can he jump but holding the jump button allows the Doctor to hover a little, giving him a helpful boost when he really needs it.  His most helpful gadget is the Splizz gun which he can use as an attack weapon as well as shoot a sort of electrified beam that catches a hold of things such as explosive barrels and genetically engineered slaves called Gomers that you find in each world.  You can also use these captured objects and creatures as weapons of sorts by spitting them out to activate switches or smash open crates.

 

However, the most interesting aspect of the game is the ability to morph.  When you encounter certain fauna, you can extract their DNA and use it to transform into them.  Aside from mutating the Doctor into quite a spectacle, morphing is used as an extra advantage.  The Gerbillus Doctorus (Dr. Muto’s rodent form) gives him power jump while morphing into Doczilla (a hybrid-gorilla) gives him a powerful butt stomp. As Teradoctyl, the Doctor has power of flight and Spiny Docfish has the ability to swim.  Arachnidoc can web sling from place and lock on to objects and grab them and pull them toward you.  These forms are also helpful during fights with level bosses.

 

There are four worlds to explore and each is packed with various levels and challenges.  Professor Burnital has scores of robotic henchmen like the robo-dogs the heavily armed security droids and rent-a-cops.  Luckily you can collect items around each level to create helpful gadgets such as the Pocket Rocket (a rocket launcher) and the Super Baller (a powerful gattling gun).  These gadgets are definitely handy for boss fights with Vinny (boss of Totltec), Carla (boss of Aqeum) and Steele (boss of Flotos). 

 

The game’s problems are few but hard to ignore.  One of the game’s major weaknesses is the camera that can sometimes make things a little frustrating.  You might find yourself wedged between a corner and the camera might swing away, leaving you to loose sight of the Doctor and put you into harms way.  Also, the camera might not focus what’s just ahead of you; this is particularly annoying when you’re jumping from platform to platform.  The game also piles on the objectives, making it difficult to keep track of them (luckily you can look them up in the Master Plan screen).

 

Graphically, Dr. Muto is actually pretty decent looking and each of the four worlds he visits are filled with numerous amounts of eye-catching details.  Although most of the time you will be zipping through each level, it’s hard to ignore the bizarre landscape of planets like the nearly submerged water world of Aquem or the smog mists of the planet called Flotos.  And speaking of bizarre, the most amusing aspect of the game’s visuals is Dr. Muto himself.  Not only does he look truly outlandish during the crisp animated cut scenes but also during the action.  Of the special effects found in this game--and believe me, there are plenty of special effects in this game--the morphing is done rather nicely.

 

Sound-wise, the game offers various sound effects the bops and blips of most platform games.  In fact, the game will really surround gamers with great effects--most notably the Splizz gun electrifying gomers or the sound of the robo-dogs falling to pieces.  The music is done right but is nothing new in terms of platform game music.  However it is the voice acting that is really the sound’s strongpoint and Dr. Muto’s high-pitched feverish voice is exactly what you might expect from a mad scientist. 

 

Dr. Muto is not the best platform game to come along but it certainly is very entertaining.  With decent graphics and the unique ability to morph into several different creatures, it’s a great attempt on Midway’s part to bring something original to the table.  This is a highly recommended rental.

 

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

 

Gameplay: 7.9
The game’s controls are pretty solid and actions like jumping, sidestepping, using the Splizz capture or attack gun and the ability to morph at will.  The multiple uses of the Splizz gun keep the game from being just another zap-everything-in-sight platformer.  Being able to “capture” enemies or certain objects and sends them flying into the various crates or other enemies is actually an inventive feature.  

 

But nothing comes close to the inventive use of morphing.  For example, Dr. Muto morphs into a spider to get to those hard to reach places he couldn’t have reached in his human form or to go up against bosses.  The problem is that the game is too fast-paced, hardly giving gamers a chance to savor all the things each unique planet has to offer.

 

Graphics: 7.8
Not as visually impressive as Jax and Daxter or Sly Cooper, the game offers some very decent looking graphics with an overabundance of environmental details.  The sad part is that gamers will be moving way too quickly to take notice of some of the environment’s little details found in each and every location.  The game’s frame rate does tend to stutter a bit, especially when the Doctor enters an area where the special effects are particularly abundant.

 

The characters are nicely detailed on the PS2 with the Doctor standing out among the more bizarre-looking characters such as Professor Burnital and the many creatures that inhabit each planet.  Doctor Muto’s spiky hair, bushy moustache and glasses with thick-lenses play a huge role when it comes to the morphing since each character his morphs into still resembles him.  It’s hard to keep a straight face when the hairy spider you just morphed into still look like the nutty Doctor.

 

Sound: 7.6
The zany characters of Dr. Muto are voiced fittingly, especially the mad doctor himself who sounds as crazed as he looks.  While the game features plenty of dialogue, Dr. Muto repeats certain phrases but never to the point of being overly annoying. 

 

The game’s soundtrack is exactly what you might expect from a platformer.  Its tunes change from planet to planet but rarely during the middle of a level.  Sound effects-wise, the game features some decent effects but nothing really out of the ordinary.

 

Difficulty: Medium
The challenge does not come from fighting off Professor Burnital’s genetically engineered army of robotic henchmen but from the environment itself.  In the junkyard planet of Totltec, for example, you have to avoid the toxic lakes that can hurt and eventually kill you if you come into contact with it.  To make things harder, certain platforms tend to move and could easily toss the Doctor into the bubbly green lethal pools.  Boss fights are also quite challenging; but then again, the strategy to defeat them is to simply pay attention to their attacks.

 

Concept: 7.5
Following the same formula as the recent platform releases, the game’s main idea is still about collecting items.  There is nothing new--with the exception of morphing, that is--that really separates this game from the competition, but that is not to say that Dr. Muto has nothing to offer.  Half the fun is find the right specimens to steal DNA from or torturing the poor Gomers.

 

Overall: 7.9
While somewhat original and highly entertaining, Dr. Muto is far from the perfect platformer.  Its weaknesses sometimes overshadow the gameplay, but there are many fun moments scattered throughout the game.  In other words, there is enough here to consider this a game worthy of your time.  This is also the prefect weekend rental so do not miss out on this one.

Good

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