reviews\ Dec 1, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Dr. Muto - XB - Review

The platformer is one of the oldest game genres around, and since its inception so many years ago, developers have done little to really innovate it. They stick with the same formula, a cute or likeable character out to save the princess or the world, and along the way they must collect coins, rings, or something else to gain an extra life. Midway decided to break the mold when they created Dr. Muto. He is more of an anti-hero; his only goal is to piece back the world he destroyed. This setting makes for an interesting game, but can this genre breaker be good?

Ever since Dr. Muto was born, he has proven that he is a genius scientist, but he makes many wild schemes. As a result of his brainpower, he was always bullied at school. When prom time came around, he couldn't find a girl to go with, so he built one, which didn't help his popularity with the students. As time went on, his inventions became more outlandish. The government decided to give him a chance when he said that he could create a power plant that is capable of providing power for the entire world. When the power plant was done and turned on, it destroyed his planet, Midway. Now it is up to Dr. Muto and his super-computer assistant, AL, to fix it. Dr. Muto must use his latest invention, the Splizz Gun, to steal the DNA of different animals, so he can transform himself into many different types of creatures to help him out on his quest.  Dr. Muto will have to use all of his gadgets, transformations, and Al to rebuild his planet, but can he do it?

As in most platformers, Dr. Muto must collect various things, but it is really for the greater good. Players much collect things in order to build the planetary reconstruction device, and to make new forms to turn into. This puts a unique spin on the whole collect X amount of items that is present in all platform games.  Instead of getting another life, he gets to transform into a creature, which is much more fun.

The controls for the game are as follows: the left thumb stick is used to move Dr. Muto, and the right controls the camera. Press right or left on the D-pad cycles through the different morphs available. The L trigger makes Dr. Muto sidestep left and the R trigger makes him sidesteps right. The white button brings up the HUS and the black button centers the camera behind the player. A button is used to jump. The X button makes Dr. Muto perform the Splizz Attack weapon. The B button is the Splizz capture weapon. The Y button will make Dr. Muto morph into the different creatures. The Back button will show the plan for that particular level.

Dr. Muto offers something that more and more developers are adding to their games: DVD like extras. It offers a behind the scenes interview with the development team and a feature on the evolution of Dr. Muto. These extras might seem small, but it actually proves that the developers care for the people that purchase their game, and they are willing to put these things in.

Dr. Muto is rated T for Teen for comic mischief, mild language, mild violence, and suggestive themes.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.3
The game offers smooth controls that take complete advantage of the Xbox controller.  Each of the character forms feel and play different than others. His human form is slow, but he has some pretty powerful weapons, when he is a spider, he can climb on webbing and shoot it as well, and as a mouse he is super agile. These are just but a few of his various forms, each adds a new dimension and other ways to get around each challenge that is presented to the players. The game is a 3D platformer but it also has some classic 2D puzzles to figure out, which is in honor to the past. Players will be enthralled by the unique gameplay and it will be hard for them to let go of the controller to take a break from it.

Graphics: 9.1
The game is going for a cartoonish science fiction theme and the graphics convey this wonderfully! The design for Dr. Muto fits perfectly for what a mad scientist looks like, from the huge glasses to the big white lab coat, it all fits perfectly. The environments that Dr. Muto has to transverse to fix his planet are also nicely done. The first level is a toxic waste dump, and it is complete with sewers full of nice green sludge! The game has huge levels, with no loading time, and to top it all off, the game has no slow down.

The best part of the game is Dr. Muto’s various animations. In his human form he is always looking nervously like some bully is about to beat him up and take his lunch money. Every other form he uses takes on the appearance, and certain set of animations, that the real life counter parts would do. For instance, the mouse form is always twisting, and looking as if it is about to get pounced upon. This brings comedy into the game, which many platformers don't offer.

Sound: 9.2
Midway put together a great group of actors for the characters voices! The characters voices never get annoying during one point in the game! Also they picked the best voices to fit each character. Dr. Muto’s voice is something one would expect a mad scientist would sound like; the squeaky-loud yet bashful type voice. This game also brings about a lot of humor, for instance, when Dr. Muto finds a key item, he will yell out certain catch phrases, and does a little boogie dance.

The music and the sound effects accompany the game entirely. Each of the different sounds are unique, and fit the game, from the zany transformations, to the sound of the sludge in certain levels, and Dr Muto's different guns that he uses. The music sounds like it was taken from a movie, which helps set this entire games atmosphere. It gives the game a science fiction theme, with a gritty undertone. The entire sound department deserves a round of applause for they did an excellent job!

Difficulty: Medium
The game is a little easy, yet at times it still can prove to be a challenge. During the course of the game players will have to use their brains to figure out the best solution to any given circumstance. For instance, certain forms would be better to use against a certain boss, yet they can choose almost any form they want. The game is easy enough for a younger gamer to play, yet hard enough for the more experienced gamers.

Concept: 9.2
There has been little innovation of this genre since its inception; it has always followed a certain mold. Dr. Muto breaks that mold and gives you a main character that is a mad scientist in his quest to undo his planets destruction. The main character controls like a normal human would, he does not have any super powers, instead he transforms into various animals to help him along in his quest. Midway has taken a huge step to help innovate this genre and gamers will appreciate it!

Overall: 9.2
This must be the year of the platform genre, since many games have been released just in the past few months. Dr. Muto is one of the best platform/adventure titles I have played in a while. It is fresh, new, and puts an unusual twist on the ordinary. This holiday season is packed full of many games, and you might pass this one up, but don't. This is good game for children, and adults a like. Give Dr. Muto a try, as you might be surprised at home much fun it really is!


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