An army of muddy aliens invades planet Earth. A bespectacled young boy takes his trusty water gun and jetpack and then goes out on a hunt.
|Console||Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch|
|Purchase (Nintendo Switch)||Purchase from Nintendo.com.|
|Purchase (PC)||Purchase from Humble Store.|
|Purchase (PS3/Vita)||Purchase from Amazon.|
Mutant Mudds is another game that started on the Nintendo 3DS but later found its way into other systems. Man, I’ve certainly played a lot of those lately, haven’t I?
It’s a game that utilizes the retro art style, though it’s sort of more like a sleeker version of a NES game.
Right on its description:
Love pixels? Fond of platformers? Is there a special place in your heart for the 8-bit and 16-bit era? Want to have fun? Yes!? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a “12-bit” action platformer full of pixels and platforming fun!
Well, okay, that makes sense I guess.
The story is that you’re a blonde kid named Max living with his grandmother and a news report suddenly comes on the TV about an invasion of muddy-looking aliens. Somehow knowing that their weakness is water, you take your water gun and journey out to the world to collect Golden Diamonds and Water Sprites to blast these fuckers away.
The gameplay is very straightforward. You walk, jump, and shoot. It’s really a no-brainer and falls into the basic platformer convention in regards to controls. You also have a jetpack that allows you to hover in the air for a short period of time.
In the long run, it doesn’t sound terribly exciting. The game’s variety mainly comes from the level designs and new stage hazards, not the character’s own abilities.
The graphics are noticeably colorful and appealing. While they emulate the 8-bit art style faithfully, they are also very clean and resembles what retro graphics would look like if they were drawn as vectors. However, the main visual gimmick of the game is the ability to jump between different layers—as indicated by the orange arrow pads. It looks pretty cool, especially when the 3D slider is all the way up on the Nintendo 3DS.
However, there are only a few times when using the arrow pads is legitimately helpful. The levels are broken up into pieces and placed in these different layers, so you HAVE to use these arrow pads. So again, breaking the level up into layers is more of a visual style than a gameplay mechanic. This is not to say it’s a bad thing, however, but I just wish there is more to this decision than simple visual appeal. One exception I can think of is the cloud enemy called a Blower, who forces you into the next layer towards the front which may lead you to a pit of death. There are also a couple of enemies that can attack you from the background.
In each level, your main objective is to collect 100 Golden Diamonds and 1 Water Sprite, which will end the level upon being collected. By collecting a certain number of Golden Diamonds, you can unlock new gear in the overworld. Unfortunately, Max can only equip one at a time.
In every level, there is one door either for V-Land or G-Land. To reach most of them, you will need to equip Max with an unlocked piece of equipment. Going through these doors will lead you to a special level where the obstacles are more challenging and the only thing you have to do is reach the Water Sprite at the end.
For some reason, I really like the palette choices used for these levels. The G-Land’s greenish-yellow hue is very reminiscent of the original Game Boy while the V-Land’s black and red color scheme resembles the look of Virtual Boy games. I like these subtle references. They really help tie the nostalgia factor together.
In a later update, we also get the CGA-Land doorways which can only be accessed by Max’s Grannie—spoiler alert, but she’s an unlockable character. These particular levels use cyan and magenta colors as a reference to the graphics provided by the IBM Color Graphics Adapter graphics card, the first graphics card by the company IBM. They’re also more difficult than any of the levels provided so far.
And in ANOTHER update, we get the ghost levels with more unlockable characters—though they basically operate the same as Grannie. The big difference here is that all of the Mudds are now ghosts, who are invincible to your regular attacks and can only be killed by specific ammo. For a $10 indie game, this is a lot of content to take in.
I grew up on difficult NES games, so I never really had an issue with this game in regards to difficulty. And yes, that includes the CGA-Land and ghost levels. I’d say it’s highly accessible to both the active and casual gamers, which I have no problem with.
No complaints from me though. It definitely satisfied my retro gaming fix.
Oh, and the chiptunes of this game. How can I forget?
Honestly, Mutant Mudds nailed everything that makes a good 8-bit game. It has solid gameplay, a ton of content, charming graphics and soundtrack, and a quick, goofy little story that entices you. Very much in the spirit of NES games.
…But I’d be DAMNED if I don’t even try to find criticisms here. So, here are a couple of complaints I have.
One: the levels are VERY straightforward. Even when there seem to be branching paths, there is always just one route leading to the level’s Water Sprite. In a sense, it feels like you’re touring the level instead of exploring. But as the hazards get more difficult, the linearity becomes more of a blessing. This is a minor nitpick on my part, but the next one not so.
Two: no bosses? Come on. Not even a final boss to stop you from activating all of the Water Sprites? By the time I finished the game originally (before the CGA-Land and ghost level updates), I found myself thinking, “That’s it? There’s got to be more to it than that.” While you still unlock Grannie, there wasn’t anything else beyond that until we got the updates. This is the one big thing I feel the game is missing, as many good NES games reveled in a colorful cast of bosses.
Fortunately, there will be bosses in the upcoming sequel, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge.
And this page also promises 20 playable secret characters. Hopefully, these characters will play different from one another because the new ones in the original game’s ghost levels are basically reskins for Grannie.
With all this said, Mutant Mudds is a solid retro indie game rivaling the likes of Shovel Knight and I’m hoping the sequel will be even better.
- The tight controls and stage hazards provide a nice challenge for active and casual gamers.
- The multiple secret levels and content make up a worthwhile indie game.
- For 3DS users: the 3D looks quite impressive, cleverly using the different layers to give a sense of a big world.
- The graphics and soundtrack greatly resemble the look and feel of old NES games.
- The levels are designed to be very straightforward, which may make the game feel repetitive for some.
- The lack of boss battles—which will be addressed in the sequel.