There are those gamers out there that harken for the days of old, when gameplay was challenging and the visuals and sound were simple and charming. The 8-bit and 16-bit machines of “the old days” provided many of these types of games and experiences. People looking for this same type of gaming experience can rejoice as Mutant Mudds by Renegade Kid was recently released on the 3DS eShop. It is a game that has the allure of 8-bit/16-bit 2D gameplay and graphics, but it adds a few modern elements to spice things up.
The game’s premise is simple enough, armed with a heavy-duty water cannon, Max, the game’s hero, has what he needs to vanquish his long-term nemesis: the Mutant Mudds. He must blast and hover his way across the soiled landscape to seek out mysterious Water Sprites. Legend says collecting all of the mysterious Water Sprites will wash the filthy Mutant Mudds away for good!
Mutant Mudds is a platform game plain and simple, as you need to make it from point A to point B as quick as you can. You will face the perils of each level and need to find a way to navigate the challenges that present themselves to you. From the mutant mudds of various size and nature (e.g. mini ones, BIG ones, some with armor and swords, some that shoot at you), different environmental surfaces (e.g. ice, lava), to levels with various obstacles and challenges (moving platforms or giant swinging spike balls), you’ll have to be on your ‘gaming toes’ to get through this game.
To assist you on your adventure, you are armed with the aforementioned water cannon. This allows you to shoot at the various mutant mudds that you face. You also have a backpack, or ‘bubble-pack’ in this case, which in essence is a jet pack. This will enable you to hover for short periods of time as well as assist you in making longer jumps. Your equipment is also upgradable at Grannie’s Attic. To upgrade your equipment you will collect golden diamonds throughout each level, and once you collect enough its time to go get that upgrade to help you out.
There are a total of 40 Water Sprites for you to collect, so this should give you an indication of how many levels you need to traverse to finish the game. During your adventure you’ll find secret entrances within each stage that lead you new secret worlds. These are based on previous Nintendo handheld consoles including the original Gameboy (labeled G-World) and the ill-fated Virtual Boy (labeled V-World). The levels match those that you would have found on those older consoles in terms of colours and shading. It was a nice treat to find these and it added even more to the overall gameplay experience.
One of the interesting things about the gameplay in Mutant Mudds is that it employs the use of 3D that you would not expect in a game like this. By stepping on teleportation pads, marked with an arrow, that are found in each level, you will be teleported to the foreground (arrow down) or to the background (arrow up) of the level. When you are in the background you are much smaller and have to really pay attention to what you are doing. When you are in the foreground you are much larger and the visuals become a bit pixelated. This added gameplay element is pretty cool and I found that it was not a gimmick at all given it added some personality to the game.
Mutant Mudds can also be quite challenging at times, as some of the later levels are tough and take some skill to get through. I had a few maddening moments as I died when I least expected it, or I just missed the allotted time to get through. Now I consider myself a somewhat skilled gamer, but I do admit that old school platform games have never been my forte, so to struggle the way I did was kind of expected. Those that have been born and bred on platform games, or those that are very skilled gamers, will most likely find the learning curve satisfactory, but in the end the game as whole can challenge anyone. This is particularly noticeable in the secret stages.
As you play, not only do you have to navigate through the various levels, you will also race against a timer on every level. This can be frustrating at times and adds to the challenge, especially for those not adept at platform games. Timing your jumps for a platform that turns on and off or gauging your jump across a pool of lava has be done quickly, as every precious second that ticks by may result in not having enough time to finish the level.
Something that I also found frustrating was the fact that there is no checkpoint system. When you die you start right from the beginning with all enemies in place, and all golden diamonds back in place. It can be painful when you die more than a few times, or just at the end of a level, and have to start from scratch again. Given the short amount of time on the timer, the levels are not huge but they could have at least had a mid-point checkpoint. This would make the game much less frustrating for those that are not proficient at this style of game. All this being said though, the game is very rewarding once you complete that one level that had you struggling for a bit.
The graphics and sound in Mutant Mudds are unassuming, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. Visually this game truly does harken back to the days of when games pixels ruled. There are no polygons here and the overall geometry of everything on the screen is simple and made up of 8-bit/16-bit oriented pixel graphics. Although this is the case, the game has a certain allure to it, right down to our hero Max with his water cannon in his hands, his glasses on his head, and his hair fluttering around when he moves. The aforementioned ability to teleport into the foreground and background is handled very well with the 3D slider turned on. Although you can play the game with the 3D slider turned off, by turning it on you give some added dimension to the whole experience. It is pretty cool and something I think people with a 3DS will appreciate. As for the sound, the game is made up of simple bloops, beeps, and boops, that when combined provides some very nostalgic sound effects and help make the action come alive. The music is also just as simple, but very reminiscent of those days when great 8-bit/16-bit music could be found on so many classic games and enjoyed.
At the end of the day Mutant Mudds is a game that a lot of people should experience. The simple but yet charming visuals and sound are complimented by some old school addicting platform action, but make no mistake, the game can be challenging that is for sure, and the lack of variety may turn some people off. Even with the noted issues, the game is pretty good, and overall I think it is safe to recommend it to most everyone out there, especially those who are looking for some quick and challenging bursts of platform action while taking their 3DS on the go.