Dr. Muto isn't exactly the most inspiring platforming character ever created--this mad scientist of small stature relies on a remote control device to attack enemies and wears a pair of small rocket shoes to jump around in the gameworld. Indeed, the game Dr. Muto is least exciting and shows most of its weaknesses when it focuses on its main character, but as you progress through the game, the doctor will gain the ability to change into different types of animals. It's these animal transformations that instill life into Dr. Muto's otherwise irritating combination of platforming and collection elements, and they do so by simply making the gameplay experience for each creature different. However, the game still has quite a few other problems, namely a horrible camera and a general lack of polish.
Dr. Muto sets out to rebuild Planet Midway--which he inadvertently destroyed with his energy device--by retrieving pieces of a device named the genitor from a series of planets, each of which has several areas in which a piece of the machine could possibly be hidden. In most cases, tracking down parts of the genitor isn't all that difficult, because their location is often revealed after you hit a special switch or trigger a sequence of special events. In fact, most of Dr. Muto's gameplay focuses on hitting switches, pulling levers, or throwing small blue creatures into electrical fields using the remote control device. This mundane gameplay approach is exacerbated by the fact that you'll need to collect a number of items as you're traveling through the levels if you want to acquire Dr. Muto's special devices and transformation abilities.
Throughout each section of a planet, you'll find blue orbs hanging in the sky or inside crates that you can smash open using Dr. Muto's attack beam. Some of them will also be hidden, and you'll have to find a special switch to find them, though chances are you'll discover them by accident. These blue orbs are especially important, as they can unlock additional animal transformation formulas.
Blue orbs aren't the only thing you need to worry about collecting. When you unlock one of Dr. Muto's transformation formulas later in the game, you'll see that a few requirements must be met before Dr. Muto can change into that creature. For example, Dr. Muto's ape transformation requires DNA from two types of enemies. Not all the requirements are so simple, though. Some will involve finding dozens of enemies, quite a few of which can be difficult to locate, and you'll end up backtracking quite a bi in search of them. The same applies for some of Dr. Muto's special items, which need several well-hidden special parts to function. Unfortunately, all this collecting also slows down the pace of the game to the point that it just becomes tedious. In addition, some of the later levels place an emphasis on platforming and rapid movement, and as such, they aren't really conducive to the heavily emphasized collecting element.
It's certainly worth noting that when you finally gain the ability to transform into a creature, the game becomes much more enjoyable. Each creature that Dr. Muto can transform into plays quite differently, such as the massive ape, which moves slow but has the ability to perform a massive ground stomp. Conversely, the rat is small and maneuverable, but it can be crushed by rotating gears or other such environmental hazards. However, there are quite a few limitations. The game will almost always limit the selection of animals that you can transform into depending on the area you're in, and most of the time, the animals are useful only in specific situations.
The first few levels in Dr. Muto are structurally mundane, as you'll generally walk down paths that are scattered with enemies and surrounded by annoying invisible barriers. Later on, you'll start to see much more variety and levels that are generally more creative and fun to play through. This is probably due the later levels' increased focus on platforming, but this increased focus also brings the game's camera problems to the forefront. You'll constantly be fighting the camera to get a good look at exactly which platform you're supposed to leap to next, which isn't as difficult as it is in the narrow passageways, where the camera sometimes can't be moved at all.
Dr. Muto features a respectable visual presentation, but it doesn't exactly push the hardware limits of the PlayStation 2. The environments have sharp edges and therefore lack a natural look. In addition, you rarely get a chance to look out over large spans of the level. Dr. Muto and many of the enemies in the game are pretty detailed and sport a cartoon-style look that fits with the overall theme of the game. For example, you'll see Dr. Muto's lips flap in the wind when he uses the rocket shoes. There are some substantial frame rate problems at various points in the game, particularly when walking into a large area where there are plenty of particle effects, but the game doesn't slow down to the extent that it's made completely unplayable.
Much like the graphics, the sound and music are in tune with the theme of the game. Dr. Muto's voice is appropriate for the character, but after hearing him say certain lines repeatedly, it can get a little irritating. The voice for the AI characters is pretty well done and successfully executes some deadpan humor. Most of Muto's gadgets are accompanied by sounds that you would normally hear in an early science-fiction movie.
Dr. Muto certainly has some bright points, such as the main character's ability to transform into different animals and use their skills to solve different types of typical platforming puzzles. But much of the enjoyment of using these characters is sapped by a tedious collection element and a poor camera that can make it frustrating to navigate the game's environments. With so many other great platforming games available for the PlayStation 2, Dr. Muto is incredibly difficult to recommend as anything but a rental.