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Review of Dr Muto
Platformers are becoming a dime a dozen these days and weeding through the pile, trying to find a gem is beginning to become a cumbersome chore. With mostly everything having that “been there, done that” feel to them it is refreshing to come across a title that, for the most part, gets things right.
Dr. Muto is a platform title that introduces a quirky, off the wall Doctor, a wise-ass computer sidekick and enough odd-ball visuals combining with truly out of this world gameplay to make things interesting…very interesting.
The game dumps players right into the thick of action with the Doctor having to collect 15 isotopes within 2 minutes before his lab gets smoked. I was a little surprised to see the game start off that way…no time for introductions, getting a feel for the control scheme, nothing…just get your ass in there and run it around picking up the 15 isotopes before the time expires. Finish that and “BAM” you are already morphing into the first of five creatures, the Gerbillus Doctor (a mouse type creature), to find a computer chip.
I rather liked the “take no prisoner” approach of the game as it starts out…but I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. The game starts off with a slick little intro showing our beloved Dr. Muto growing through the pains of childhood, early teens and adulthood. It’s immediately obvious that the good Dr. is just a bit “off” from other people. Blessed with a creative mind, Muto is inventing things as a lad and lives a rather sheltered life, mocked by his peers. When his home world, Planet Midway develops a serious energy problem, Dr. Muto invents the ultimate energy device…that once installed and switched on just happens to blow the planet to smithereens…all except for the Doctors lab that is floating through space on the small remaining chuck of the former planet Midway.
With the help of an arrogant, wise-cracking computer that Muto created named Al he must traverse multiple planets to collect items that will ultimately help him to build the Genitor 9000...a device that will restore planet Midway.
Of course no mad scientist would be complete without some type of ray gun and Dr. Muto has a good one. His other form of defense comes in the form of lighting style bolts that shoot out from his handheld device (a Splizz-gun) that captures (immobilizes actually) his opponents.
Certain items have specific value, like the isotopes that Muto collects. These can be used to make Al more powerful and thus able to create new formulas or reveal new blueprints. Scrap parts are also important to actually finish the blueprints. Of course many of these items are not out in plain sight or cannot be reached by Dr. Muto in his current form. Luckily Muto has the ability to morph into different creatures (five in total), each with their own abilities and capability to reach specific areas that Muto, in his human form cannot.
The camera for the most part is pretty good. It usually follows right behind the main character and is easily adjusted (rotateable) by using the right thumbstick. If things get to wonky, players can easily snap the camera behind them with a flick of the R2 button. There were times however when the camera gets locked in an above person view that I found a bit annoying, but this only happened in rather cramped areas.
The level designs are perhaps the weakest part of Dr. Muto. Some areas are just plain masochistic in design requiring precision timing and above average reflexes, while other locales flow nicely through a well-designed environment. Naturally, areas were specifically created to match the unique characters that Muto can morph into, but certain places can become claustrophobic or too dark to make things out resulting in the good doctor getting cheaply killed before his time.
There are a nice variety of enemies to plow through, each requiring their own tactics to be successfully destroyed. There are also poor little workers called Gomers. These pathetic little critters can be captured with the Splizz-gun and aimed at specific items (like Gomer boxes) and then shot at those objects to open, destroy or coat them. Heck, these little guys can even be used as a conduit to power switches…
The graphics in Dr. Muto are just plain outrageous. Great care was obviously taken to make this game look like some sort of weird, twisted, nightmarish world that the mad Doctor traverses. Dr. Muto himself is just plain…well, umm… creepy looking. With his white smock, green-rimmed glasses and skunk styled hairdo the good Dr. certainly fits the role as an outcast. The other characters are also quirky in design, but they are well modeled and animated.
The backgrounds are virtually alive with all sorts of activity constantly going on. Energy bursts and sparks from the lab, molten green sludge bubbling, and tons of various movements make Dr. Muto feel just like a living, breathing environment, albeit a totally bizarre one at that.
Being that Dr. Muto is supposed to be taking place in some sort of bizarre alter universe, the color palette used to represent things is all over the place. Neon greens and reds combine with muted browns and grays to produce some stunning effects. Some people will surely not like the way things look here (“pukey” may be a word that comes to mind) but I thought it was a nice touch and made things look different and original. In fact if I had to compare it to any other platform style game, I would say that Dr. Muto reminded me very much of Munch’s Odyssey in both presentation and oddball humor, but with more enjoyable gameplay elements.
The sound effects are also slick with weird, spacey noises representing weapons, equipment and ambient sounds occurring in the background. Muto is also cracking little one-liners throughout the adventure and his voice matches his look perfectly. And then there is Al, who sounds (intentionally I am sure) just like the computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. His rather monotone voice delivering quick jabs and advice fits in perfectly with the character portrayal.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Dr Muto' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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