CrazyMouse should have stayed in its hole.
- Game runs smoothly online and off.
- Mundane levels
- Uninspired art
- Repetitious gameplay
- Painful controls
- Online achievements are easy to exploit with the help of a friend.
The title screen describes CrazyMouse as "The epic journey of the mouse gastronomist." For those who may not know, a gastronomist is somebody who really loves food. Unfortunately, this game lacks taste and never expands beyond guiding the titular character around a series of monotonous twisting mazes. If you've played any of the Pac-Man or Bomberman games, you'll be familiar with the top-down view and winding, grid-based levels. Instead of a yellow puck or a squat demolitions expert, you guide a poorly animated blue mouse with a milkshake strapped to its back through passages to collect pizza, ice cream, and other appealing edibles in search of the ultimate food. Unfortunately that undertaking isn't nearly as challenging as the search for fun.
CrazyMouse's single-player experience is divided into two options: story mode and battle mode. While the look of each maze and the objective of each level changes as you progress through the story mode, the whole experience feels very mundane. Due to the lack of a coherent tale and its generic design, the story mode is a tiresome, plodding run through 32 levels. No matter the surface, the controls make you feel as though you're traversing 8-bit ice. You will run through straightaways picking up trails of collectibles and hope that by pushing to the side long enough you will turn a corner to collect more objects. If you miscalculate the turn, your small blue avatar will crash into a wall and toss its collected cookies, chocolates, or cheese to the four winds. If you can successfully ingest all the foodstuffs, get more points, or otherwise fulfill the level's objectives, you pass and move to the next obstacle.
In some levels other mice compete to collect more items and points and to prevent you from achieving top grades. Battle mode, a race for a high score in a timed bout against up to three other AI-controlled mice, is a perfect example. Some of the later levels in story mode are populated by multiple adversaries that must be outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and sometimes targeted with special attacks. The attacks are nothing more than swapping places, hurling a boomerang, or tossing a bomb. None of the special moves are satisfying to execute, and they all depend on the random item you get from the gold power-up boxes scattered around the maze. By using the special attacks on AI opponents, simple levels are made even easier. To unlock hidden achievements or the best grades for completing the level, you will have to execute perfect maneuvers and sometimes forgo assaulting your opponents.
Finding an online match is difficult, but not impossible. We played each of the online modes, ranging from tournaments with up to four players to one-on-one battles. Online maps drew from the same blase battle maps available in the single-player experience. In the matches we played, the connections were smooth and the game played out in much the same way as the single-player experience. Which is to say, they were derivative and dull, despite our smarter-than-the-average-AI opponents.
With limited appeal, handicapped controls, an annoying presentation, and a now-exterminated online community, 400 Microsoft points is too much for what little CrazyMouse has to offer. Most sane people will not see any need to revisit the story mode, even though it can be completed the first time within a couple of hours. Other, classic games provide more entertainment and richer gameplay experiences than this uninspired rehash.
- Downloadable Game