Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Mutant Mudds

Game: Mutant Mudds
System: Nintendo eShop (3DS)
Developer: Renegade Kid
Publisher: Renegade Kid

Cost: $8.99

Being a small developer is no easy feat, especially when original IPs are involved. In the case of Renegade Kid, they had a particularly difficult time bringing Mutant Mudds into existence; originally a 3D platformer on the DS, the game was rejected by publishers and failed to garner enough attention for a DSiWare release. However, Renegade Kid revamped Mutant Mudds’ idea and has made it into a refreshing 2D platformer on the Nintendo eShop. Thankfully, I can say the game was well worth the wait, even if it changed its looks along the way.

Mutant Mudds stars Max and his grandmother who, while playing video games, witness a meteor crash onto the planet, creating a myriad of monstrous beings called the Mutant Mudds. Equipped with the smarts to outdo the Mudds, Max takes hold of his water cannon and agua-powered jetpack in his quest to find the Water Sprites, the only things that can truly cleanse every Mudd from the world!

The first thing you will notice is the game’s retro-styled graphics. It might look like a classic game, but it is as new as they come. Max, Grannie, and the world around them are all designed to appear like a window into the past, although Max and Grannie do lack the extra details of the Mudds themselves. Regardless, the animations are smooth, and the framerate remains equally so for the majority of the experience. The depth present through the 3DS screen is vibrant and intense, and I only had crosstalk issues during one red-hued environment. To match the game’s delightful graphic style is the game’s soundtrack; Troupe Gammage produced every bit-based song with a level of energy that matches the popping visuals in-game. Together, the visuals and audio create a delightful aesthetic to encompass the game.

That Sprite looks close, but poor Max is so far away.

Mutant Mudds is a traditional platformer with a little bit of a 3D twist. In each of the game’s levels, players guide Max through numerous obstacles and enemies in order to reach the Water Sprite at the end. With his water cannon, Max can shoot and dissolve Mudds in his way, and he can use his jetpack for an extra boost across gaps. You will have to be careful, though, as there are no healing items nor power-ups within the levels, meaning those three hit-points are all you get. Assisted by a number of insta-death spikes and pits, the Mudds become increasingly difficult and numerous with each passing level. While the game remains easy at first, soon single mistakes lead you to an inevitable defeat. There is a problem with being too careful, too; each level has a four-minute time limit, ensuring that you are on the move at all times!

The twist in all of this, however, is the usage of depth to create layers of platforms for Max to travel across. By standing and jumping on particular platforms, you can leap toward or away from the screen, entering another area of the level. Furthermore, certain obstacles and enemies make usage of depth, sliding out to attack or swinging into the foreground with an ominous “swoosh.” In later levels, Max can be blown to the front of the level by mischievous clouds; you better be careful when you pass by them, especially when there are nothing but spikes on the front layer. It is this depth that turns the already solid game into an even better one.

Fireballs, spikeballs, and eyeballs, oh my!

The game is not just about collecting the Water Sprites at the end of each level, though. You also have 100 golden diamonds to collect, too. Collecting diamonds can allow Grannie to give you power-ups, such as a stronger water cannon or a vertical boost, which can not only help you complete the levels more easily but can also lead you to the game’s many sub levels. These sub levels, stylized like a Game Boy or Virtual Boy game (named G-Zone and V-Zone, respectively) have their own Water Sprites to find, effectively doubling the amount of levels to complete. The sub levels are a grade higher in difficulty compared to the main levels, providing more traps and plenty more spikes among the swarm of Mudds present in each. There are no diamonds in the sub levels, but the time limit still remains.

Looking at the game as a whole, there are twenty main levels with a sub level in each, totaling 40 Water Sprites to collect. In order to access the last world, you need to complete each of the four worlds before it, and even then, you need to collect all the diamonds in specific worlds in order to unlock the fifth world’s levels. Certain players might find collecting that many diamonds per level to be boring and distracting. Thankfully, once you have completed a level, the diamonds you have collected are permanently yours, so you can focus on finishing a level, even if you missed a couple diamonds along the way. And for those willing to fight through the last world for all of the diamonds, there is a nice surprise waiting for you.

Some elements will literally blow you (or Max) away!

Mutant Mudds is a darn good adventure, but there are a few dings in its armor. Perhaps the difficulty can be a little over the top further in, what with no actual healing items of the sort. In some cases, I would kill myself if I did not make it through a point without fail. Furthermore, some later levels like to make moments which are do-or-die, and for me, I found death to be much more common. It is a good thing the game has no lives to speak of, but some levels probably could have been a tad shorter or have checkpoints. Thus is the fate of a retro-styled game; we get the aesthetics and the difficulty!

The game’s simplicity works for the most part, but near the end it occasionally calls out for more. The game seems a little too simple early on, but as the levels progress and new ideas are introduced, the game hits its stride. Just as the game begins to accelerate with new ideas and concepts, it slows back, opting to include all obstacles near the end rather than going beyond the game’s main mechanics. I was somewhat disappointed that the game lacked any real boss battles or radical twists in the gameplay to surprise players further in the game. In spite of this, the game does pull through with its simple yet challenging game design for the three-to-five hours you will spend completing it (and that is if you are particularly good at collecting all those diamonds on the first run-through).


Mutant Mudds exemplifies everything that the eShop should contain: small, simple, but altogether delightful and entertaining experiences for players to enjoy for a fraction of a full-retail price. The difficulty fits its charming retro style, and its level variety and hidden depth make the game a full package deal. Renegade Kid could have gone further with the concept and added boss fights or something to spice up the game at times, but even without them, the basic gameplay is altogether solid and welcoming to the majority of gamers out there. Just do not expect a cakewalk all the way through.

Mutant Mudds is a simple but charming game which makes use of its concepts as far as it can, providing a fun, if sometimes a little frustrating, experience for all to enjoy. This game is a perfect fit for the eShop, and we cannot wait to see more.

+ Wonderful retro-styled music and graphics, also making great use of 3D.
+ Multitude of worlds and levels expand the game’s length beyond what is expected.
+ Solid mechanics and fast-paced levels make for a smooth and charming adventure.

- Difficulty can be a problem for certain players, without items or checkpoints.
- Collecting all of the diamonds might turn off certain players from full completion.
- Some boss fights or expanded mechanics changes might have helped build game up at the end.


*Downloadable titles are currently being rated on a three-scale: Yes, No, and Maybe. As a Yes title, this game is highly recommended to those familiar with the genre and also generally recommended to most everyone.

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