Monday, February 11, 2013

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Mutant Mudds (3DSWare)

We are presenting a new type of review on SuperPhillip Central. They're called Better Late Than Never reviews. We've had these types of reviews for games in the past, but there was never a proper name given to them. Now, there is! Our first BLTN review is Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds for the Nintendo 3DS. The game is also available on iOS platforms and will be coming to the Wii U in the form of Mutant Mudds Deluxe. Let's get dirty!

It's Sometimes Fun to Roll Around in the Mudd

The Nintendo 3DS eShop has really come into its own over the past year and a half. It has brought many unique experiences that cannot be found anywhere else (along with some that can be). It is a perfect complement to the retail games that the 3DS was at one time lacking. Renegade Kid was a big supporter of the Nintendo DS, releasing a pair of graphical intensive titles for the platform: Dementium: The Ward and Moon. Now the team has a much simpler in both art design and gameplay with Mutant Mudds. If you're looking for an old school 2D platformer, then Renegade Kid's offering is worth checking out.

On paper, Mutant Mudds is a basic game. You play as Max, opting to take it upon himself to defeat an alien Mudd menace with only a water pack and water gun. The water pack allows Max to hover in the air for a limited period of time, making devious jumps all the more manageable, and allowing him to cross over large chasms with ease. Meanwhile, the water gun is Max's only means of offense. Generally, enemies take multiple shots to be defeated. Those Mudd monsters mean business, after all!

The unlikely hero Max fights on
behalf of all those who wear glasses.
But there's more to Mutant Mudds than simply that. The game takes full advantage of the Nintendo 3DS' stereoscopic 3D to really push the title's pixels out at the player. Each level has three tiers to platform on: the normal plane, a foreground plane where Max and enemies are right up into the player's face, and a background plane where Max and enemies are are relatively tiny. Depending on whether the 3DS system's 3D slider is pushed all the way up or not, the effect is really impressive and looks great.

On some occasions, players will be
up close and personal with the action.
It's something that not only affects the visual appeal of the game, but it affects the gameplay as well. Max will be constantly shifting between planes via pads. Certain obstacles like gust-blowing clouds will knock Max up a plane from wherever he's standing; hammers fall from the background to the foreground, damaging Max if he's caught in their path; and spinning spiked orbs cycle from background to foreground are ready to hurt Max if he lingers near them for too long.

This spinning spiked ball circles from the
foreground into the background.
Then there are the 2000 Golden Diamonds to collect throughout the 20 normal levels of the game (there are more free downloadable levels that are available to play after the initial game is completed). Each level has 100 diamonds that are located all over each level, some very tricky to attain. Collecting enough of these unlocks one of three helpful gadgets in Max's grannie's attic. One furthers the range of Max's water gun. Another grants more hovering time to Max's water pack. The final upgrade grants Max the ability to shoot himself high into the air. The catch here is that only one upgrade can be used at a time.

Alongside collecting all of the Golden Diamonds in a level, the final Water Sprite is gained through finishing off bonus levels. You see, each level has a hidden door that leads to a challenging bonus level where the only objective is to make it to the goal within the time limit. Many levels have a larger retro feel to them such as being in all red and black a la the Virtual Boy, but unlike the Virtual Boy, these levels are a great success. They're challenging, and they're fun.

Mutant Mudds' old school sensibilities shine through more than its visuals and gameplay. It is a challenging game, and one that many less hardcore platforming fans might simply find frustrating. There are no checkpoints per level, and dying right at the end of a level can be irritating, almost to the point where you can give up on the game. Max only has three hearts to work with per level, and there is no way to regain a lost heart. To put it in Layman's terms, Mutant Mudds may only appeal to the most hardcore of gamers due to its difficulty. If you're like me and grew up during the "Nintendo hard" days, then you are probably a glutton for punishment and will play a level dozens of times, inching closer and closer to the goal each time. Those "I can do it" and "just one more try" feelings are just fantastic and remind me of myself as a kid playing through Super Mario Bros. 3 or Mega Man 2, back when the only cartoon version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty poorly hand-drawn instead of CG like we have it today.

Spikes like the ones seen at the bottom right
of the screen mean instant death.
While Mutant Mudds is very old school, I do wish there was a new school feature-- online leaderboards. It would have been terrific comparing players' best level times around the world, competing for the highest spot or to simply beat their friends' top times. Perhaps such a feature will be added in the Wii U version.

Mutant Mudds is a short ride, but it is one that players will want to come back to time and time again. It's a classic in that sense, and without a doubt the game is one of Renegade Kid's best. The team really outdid themselves and showed that simplicity is still something special to be had in a game. In an industry full of complex (perhaps overly so) titles, it's nice to see something simple work so well and be so much fun. If you're up for a challenge, download Mutant Mudds from the eShop. Despite the title, you won't feel dirty playing this enjoyable game.

[SPC Says: 8.0/10]

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