Dr. Muto (PS2)

Dr. Muto (PS2)

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/17/2002 for PS2  

You’ve got to hand it to Midway, they have a great knack of taking well-established genres and injecting their own flair and style into them. While Midway has been known for creating some impressive over the top titles (NHL Hitz, Mortal Kombat) they’re not exactly the foremost authority when it comes to 3D platformers. This is all about to change.

The game’s namesake refers to the main protagonist, a mad scientist whose invention inadvertently blows up his planet into a million pieces. Beginning with an excellently rendered cutscene (not to mention hilarious), this game gets off to a running start. You’ll immediately notice that the emphasis of the game has been placed on the more twisted side of the spectrum. Your main goal is to reunite the chunks of your planet and prove once and for all that you’re not the demented loser that the rest of the world thinks you are. How are you going to do this, you ask? By traveling to other planets and stealing parts for your new contraption of course.

You’ll start out controlling the human form of Dr. Muto but as you progress, you’ll soon realize the game’s main attraction, morphing. By utilizing a remote control, you can transform Muto into creatures resembling a rat, a gorilla, a spider and more. Each of them, in addition to being a fun and unique experience, serve a specific purpose. Early on you’ll need to transform into a rat so that you can enter a sewer duct to retrieve an object.

In order to gain new transformations you’ll have to capture DNA from various creatures that are scattered across the land. Some of them (such as the gorilla) require only a few DNA samples while others require a significantly higher number. While it can be said that the gamer is being rewarded for their hard work, I felt that this makes the game more tedious than it should have been. It’s very akin to the unlocking of new vehicles in racing games, it’s an un-necessary artificial boundary that seems to artificially manufacture gameplay.

I really enjoyed my time with the game as it features some of the best level designs that I’ve seen in a platforming game this year. The level designers managed to avoid a pitfall that seems to plague most 3D platformers. By providing levels that are constantly attractive and entertaining, it makes the game worth playing. Most times you’ll see a developer blow their entire load in their first few levels and fill in the rest of the world with uninspired lands, this simply isn’t the case here. Each level is fun and you’ll be curious to find out what awaits you next.
Some of the hindrances in gameplay can be directly derived from what I like to call “Rare-Ware.” It’s the easter-egg hunt, hey let’s collect X amounts of objects type gameplay that really slows this game’s momentum down. In order to unlock the more entertaining aspects of the game (such as weapons and transformations) you’ll have to do a lot of backtracking, too much for my tastes. You’ll need to hit special switches and enter special areas, far too much for my liking. I wish that upgrades were presented in a much better and more intuitive fashion. A purchasing system similar to Ratchet & Clank comes to mind.

While many may complain about Dr. Muto’s visual presentation I have no qualms about it. Sure the characters may not have the most well refined edges and sure, the worlds may not feature the most complicated architecture, but you know what? I liked it, the graphics fit in quite nicely with the game world and I really enjoyed the consistent design schemes. Muto himself looks pretty nice and the special effects really aren’t all that bad. The special effects are too distracting and do well to complement the game play as opposed to detract from it. If I want to see an excess of bright and shiny objects I’ll check out a fireworks show, if I want to see nice visuals I’ll stick with Muto.

What really stood out for me was the game’s audio, I just simply loved the voice acting. The voice for Dr. Muto fits his character to a T. You don’t get some actor who speaks with a refined tone, you’ll get a bumbling madman who genuinely sounds like he’s crazy. It’s funny, entertaining and a nice fit to the character. The rest of the sounds are composed of those cheesy over the top sci-fi movie effects that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ed Wood film. I loved it, the zaps and such really fit in well with the game.

The game has its share of problems but in the end, you have an above-average platformer that does a great job of distancing itself from the competition. I dug the whole sci-fi mad scientist schtick and if you’re in the market for a good 3D platformer, I’m certain you will too.
An excellent entry into the crowded 3D platformer market. There may be better titles out there but this is still worthy of your attention. Don't count this game out this holiday season.

Rating: 8.2 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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