January 24, 2012

Review – Mutant Mudds

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 1:32 pm

Review Mutant Mudds
In addition to exterminating dinosaurs and raising the undead, meteorites can also unleash irritable mud creatures on an unsuspecting world. Unlike other catastrophes however, this one can be dealt with by any child equipped with a super-soaker.

Such is the premise of Renegade Kid’s new addition to a growing eShop library of digital offerings for the 3DS, one which gives such a shout-out to the glory days of the Nintendo Entertainment System – from the visuals to the occasionally infuriating platforming – that you may just feel obliged to blow in the empty cartridge slot before playing.

Mutant Mudds demands core platforming fundamentals, the repetitious requirements of reflex, patience, and timing. The game is deceptively simple in its presentation, using a hub world to offer an initial sixteen portals to environments filled with moving platforms, spiky pitfalls, and the aforementioned mud creatures. Hidden away within each of these stages are secret levels, offering a secondary exit from each stage and dramatically increasing the difficulty involved in reaching the end.

Completing each primary or secret stage rewards players with a water sprite, which are required to open all of those sixteen portals. Assumedly giving a nod to other Nintendo hardware of the past, those hidden levels are labeled V-Land and/or G-Land, with the first using red overtones reminiscent of the Virtual Boy, while the other uses the grayscale aesthetics of the GameBoy.

Our young hero traverses stages armed with a water powered cannon and jetpack, thereby able to briefly hover on the air in addition to jumping. The jetpack will keep players in the air until an obligatory gauge depletes, or until players press the button a second time to drop back to the ground. The moment players touch the ground, the gauge is fully replenished, making it tempting to move rather quickly through the stages – though rest assured that said stages will immediately emphasis a more cautious pace.

The hub map also offers access to Grannie’s attic, where upgrades can be unlocked in exchange for diamonds found throughout the stages. Each of the sixteen primary stages offers 100 diamonds, and players will need to gather every last one given Grannie’s greedy demands when it comes to trading items for coin.

Only one of these three additional upgrades can be equipped at a time, leaving players to choose between the ability to shoot further, hover longer, or jump boost directly into the air to reach more of those secret stages.

Adding to the layers of this onion, the stages of Mutant Mudds also have three parallax planes where action unfolds simultaneously, using directional jump points to hurl the player further back into the screen, or right up snug to the player’s viewpoint. Because there are no item drops or health gains, this adds incentive to dispatching more enemies in order to clear the screen, as foreground enemies can obscure the field of vision while players are trying to bounce from platforms in the background.

This also allows the game to put the 3D to interesting use with a few enemies that strike by moving between planes, and watching them move from the background to the foreground is a bit magical.

Later stages even unleash angry clouds that will blow the player from one plane to another, often leading to the player’s death, or allowing the stage timer to dwindle down.

Tackling these stages never feels cheap, but can feel incredibly difficult given the meticulous layout, which uses smaller amounts of enemies in all the right places. The game relies quite a bit on vanishing platforms, forcing the player to time their jumps perfectly while dealing with projectile hurling enemies on the other side of a chasm, shielded enemies that can only be struck from behind, and flying enemies that drop explosives. The stages also use familiar environmental hazards, such as lava and slippery ice to further complicate the journey. Should you prevail in finding all of the known water sprites and diamonds, the game will even launch you into the final frontier, taking the fight to space.

The real nostalgia bite here, aside from the pixels and looping music, is that access to the entirety of the game fits all snug and cozy on that initial hub screen, making this a matter of fighting tooth and nail to unlock all of the game’s secrets by playing with an obsessive mindset rather than searching endlessly through larger environments.

The emphasis is less about hurrying toward a climactic finish and more about tackling stages repeatedly until the challenge is met, an act that strained my tired eyes at midnight but saw me still playing by 3am, ridiculously convinced that the 52nd attempt would be the charm for one particular stage.

The longevity of Mutant Mudds favors those compulsive players that will persist until every last diamond and sprite is claimed, and wear said achievement like a badge of honor. But as with most nostalgia trips, the invitation to simply visit and hover around the game’s finely crafted stages is open to anyone who appreciates an earnest love letter to the roots of 2D side-scrolling.

Renegade Kid

Renegade Kid

Nintendo 3DS (3DSWare)


Release Date
January 26, 2012


*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

1 Comment »

  1. Great review! I just finished the game this afternoon after struggling to obtain the last Water Sprite in level 20 and the Secret Water Sprite I was missing in level 19.

    My review will be up soon over at 4colorrebellion. Let’s try and get the word out as much as we can… because I want to play a sequel ASAP!

    Comment by EdEN — January 25, 2012 @ 4:46 am

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