Whether you actually grew up in the 80’s or 90’s and can claim to have played video games during their “glory days”, there are plenty of current gen titles that let you relive the style of yesteryear. Take Mutant Mudds for examples. It’s a side scrolling, 8-bit action/platformer with a high degree of difficulty and plenty of challenge. Some may call it a “hardcore” game, while others will say it harkens back to the NES games of yore. But me? I just call it a pretty damn excellent game!
Initially released on the 3DS back in early 2012 and then later ported to PC, Wii U, and PSN, Mutant Mudds is a platformer with a few unique aspects. You play as Max, a young boy taking on the alien Mudds that have come to his land via meteor. Max pushes out of his house and takes on a quest to recover 40 water sprites to end the reign of the Mutant Mudds. Aiding him in his journey are his trusty water gun, which never runs out of ammo, and a rather handy jetpack that allows his to reach otherwise unreachable areas. Throughout the game’s 20+ stages you’ll run and gun your way through perilous pitfalls, tricky platforming sections, and countless spikes and instant death scenarios. But you know what… the game never stops being fun and rewarding!
As you collect Water Sprites and unlock more stages, you’ll also collect 100 diamonds in each stage. These diamonds not only add an extra layer of challenge to completing each level, they also unlock some neat bonuses to help you in your adventure. Before setting off to a stage, you can equip one special weapon assuming you have enough diamonds to do so: a more powerful water gun that shoots further, a jetpack with twice as much fuel (very handy!), and even a special jump spring that rockets you straight up into the air, which can get you out of plenty of unfortunate situations. These extra powerups aren’t necessary to complete each stage, but they are necessary to discover the hidden stage located within each of the game’s 20 levels. These special stages are some of the most challenging stages in the game, offering up more of a precision platforming scenario than the rest of the regular stages. Running through each stage and then each of the game’s bonus stages will take your around a dozen hours, and there can be some extra time added to that if you seek out every diamond as well. Upon completion of the main game, a bonus character becomes playable: Max’s Grandmother. She may seem incapable of such an arduous adventure, but granny can use all three special powerups at once, making her extremely powerful and fun to play!
I found the game to be very tough, but not in a way that I felt like I could never win. If I failed a stage, I knew what I did wrong and what I had to do next time in order to come out victorious. That being said, the game is unforgiving. You only have three hearts per stage. Each hit by an enemy takes a heart, and if you lose all three it’s back to the beginning of the stage for you. There are also pitfalls that instantly kill you, as well as spikes a la the Mega Man series. I’m sure some of this will not appeal to some gamers, namely the ones looking for a game similar to the Mario series, but I found it to be a wonderful challenge that was satisfying to overcome.
A great deal of why Mutant Mudds is so good is the absolutely solid controls. And I mean it: they are very tight, responsive, and easy to get the hang of. Of particular note are the jumps and landings. You kind of glide a bit when you jump, giving you a good deal of time to make sure you land where you want to land. Making it even more precise is the jetpack, which can be used to give you some extra float time to accurately descend. Stages start out on the easy side (comparatively) but get more devious later on and actually take advantage of the fact that you can use your jetpack. For example, the very last stage has several instances where you must jump down a pit, activate your jetpack at just the right time to avoid falling into the spikes, glide forward to land on the platform, all the while shooting enemies that are hindering your progress. It’s rough, it’s tough, and it’s oh so awesome once you overcome it! The controls are great, and really are one of the highlights for the whole game.
I usually don’t delve into the world of indie games (this is actually one of my first!), but Mutant Mudds makes a case for indie games everywhere. For what it is trying to do it achieves beautifully. The precise controls are a lesson to developers everywhere. The blend of challenge and accomplishment is top notch and compliments the game action sections. The only shortcomings are the game’s difficulty (for some, at least), and the occasional cheap death here and there. You can knock out the game’s main missions in under 10 hours, which then unlocks Granny as a character, who has her own set of unique special stages as well. Overall Mutant Mudds is a great 3DS game and a wonderful addition to any gamer’s portable library!