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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Mushroom Wars
By: | October 19th, 2009 | PSN
PSN |Review

There are certain types of games that strut with a swagger, backing every step up with substance, variety and finesse. Then there are those ‘other’ games that march, chins held up high, but lack the confidence to back up their gaudy walk. They’re called one-trick, all hype, no show ponies.  

Mushroom Wars, a cartoony real-time strategy (RTS) title released on the PlayStation Network (PSN), walks a flashy line. While it ostensibly is a game based on strategy, there’s something about Mushroom Wars that makes it more brawn than brains. It’s not spectacular, but that’s not the question. The question is that for the $9.99 price it’s pitching, does it offer enough of a stride?

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mushroom Wars is what you dug from the screenshots; it’s style of art. Despite the differences in gameplay, PixelJunk Monsters and the aforementioned title are aesthetically similar. Menus are simplified to square bubbles, the Campaign map doesn’t exactly spell complexity and the presentation never clutters enough to kill the good vibe Creat Studios has crafted. Mixing bright, primary-coloured paint with an anime-inspired direction, the game never loses its charm while you’re busy slaughtering the other team’s bases.

As you progress through the various battles, you’ll discover that more and more of your bases can be used for multiple purposes. The forts, military bases and typical mushroom housing all look distinct to each other. Whether you’re on the blue, pink, green or (most likely) the orange team, the hubs on each team are all differently designed. Painted with pastel-coloured crayons, Mushroom Wars undoubtedly captures a sense of charm that’s seldom seen on an accessible RTS game these days.


While console-based RTS games naturally suck in the controls department, Creat Studios were geniuses in remedying the problem. Pressing L1 brings up the Upgrades speech bubble, while R1 shoots up the arrow used to command your mushroom army. In the Upgrades mini-menu, the four face buttons represent how you can upgrade your bases, varying from catapult-firing forts to military bases that ‘roid up your army.

Sending your maddening mushrooms off to the fields is also just as intuitive. Hold R1 and (again) using the face buttons, it’ll send a portion of your militia walking, depending on how many percent of them you want to hike. I swear, in regards to the controls, that is it. In the heat of mushroom-on-mushroom genocide, you’ll be surprised to find your fiddly fingers frantically upgrading, reinforcing and pimping out your fungi empire right at the same time. However, despite these blissful, grin-filled memories, Mushroom Wars is not without its deep-seeded (get it?) problems.

One sore thumb that sticks out in particular is the lack of variety in the types of units you can deploy. Upon finishing the first clash of the Campaign mode, you get points based on how you did ‘out there’. Hitting the right notes, such as minimizing your army’s casualty or repeatedly taking over mushroom bases, gives you a title or rank the game labels you as; for example ‘Defender’. To my disappointment, these quirky, quaint characters dressed up as Spartans and Grim Reapers aren’t playable.

Instead of stronger, more badass Spartan mushrooms being unlocked we get our typical, run of the mill grunts. There’s a missed opportunity here, in the fact that so much more could’ve been added to flesh out the single player campaign. As it is, the game’s general lack of depth and tendency to play it safe will put some RTS-goers off.

For its asking price, you can certainly do better. The RTS genre isn’t an easy place to compete in, as you’re pretty much classed with the big boys; and that includes the Age of Empires and StarCraft series. Alright, comparing a PSN title to full-fledged PC beasts isn’t the fairest of comparisons, but that’s no excuse for it to fall behind iPhone’s Galcon either. While the space strategy app pales in comparison in terms of visuals, its gameplay mechanics are, to a certain extent, on par with Mushroom Wars.

For a tenth of the PSN title’s price, Galcon even offers online multiplayer, something which Mushroom Wars was unfortunately unable to implement into the experience. Perhaps this is the most noticeable, gaping disappointment the game has going for it. With a single player campaign that doesn’t have much of a narrative; some sort of three-way battle with other mushroom warriors online could’ve been its saving grace. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with a half-cooked strategy game that leaves much for improvement in the multiplayer department.

When it all comes down to it, Mushroom Wars is underwhelming. It walks a mean routine aesthetically, as there’s no doubt that it looks the part as a triple A PSN title. Unfortunately, behind all the facade, the pastel-coloured artwork, and all the evil mushrooms marching to their inevitable doom, Creat Studios’ latest just doesn’t do enough to warrant the $9.99 for most gamers out there.

While it boasts some of the finest artwork I’ve seen in an online title, the lack of upgrades and absence of an online multiplayer mode is disappointing. This half-baked and half-broiled mushroom isn’t going to prepare any meaty meals, but it certainly does enough to keep it away from being a festering fungus.

Rating Category
8.5 Presentation
The game's art design is bright, bold and possesses brilliant artistic flair. It's definitely one of the most charming titles you'll see this PSN side of the fence.
How does our scoring system work?
6.0 Gameplay
The gameplay is sufficient, but it's run-of-the-mill, and there's better RTS titles out there.
7.5 Sound
Sound effects are barely noticeable, but when you do hear them, you'll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
6.5 Longevity
Unfortunately there's a lack of online multiplayer, but offline battles and a slew of campaign skirmishes help increase longevity.
7.0 Overall
Mushroom Wars is not the potent magic mushroom we were hoping for, but it does have its charming moments as a game that features evil, ready-to-kill fungi grunts.

  1. Solid review, Jeff. Along with my Week in News this week, that’s 2 articles to feature mushrooms in less than a day :D

    • avatar Unique

      Sorry for putting this here but it is the only place.The forum page is just an empty frame for me. Community forum, psueibhld January, an and then blank for a quarter inch, then the bottom of the frame and the page continues. Please help!

  2. avatar Rep

    I agree with this review! In earlier statements, several sites and even SONY Blog posted this as being four player. However, I only see a 2 player option. If it was even 4 player local, it would help make the game that much more fun.

  3. avatar Horn Burger

    You mean “deep-seated”.

  4. @Horn
    Nope, I meant deep-seeded (see: ‘get it?’). T’was a lame joke, but hey, it was a joke nonetheless.

  5. avatar hehe1

    Well it does have local multiplayer doesn’t that atleast count for online multiplayer?

  6. avatar james

    does this game have trophies because that would greatly improve longevity

    • avatar Lucas

      I’m a Risk fan. Sadly, nobody in my famliy or friends are, so despite owning a couple versions of Risk, I rarely get to play it. I was thinking of picking this up for the single reason that I’d be able to play it online.Glad to see it’s being received so well. Maybe this will encourage a renaissance in the board-video-game genre. I’d like to see a revamped Monopoly or Clue hit XBLA and PSN.Good review.

  7. avatar Charlie

    Yes, the game has trophies.

    I really like this game. You can’t compare it to Starcraft and Age of Empires. You can’t play those games on a console, both because they aren’t available and also because they would be terrible without major changes. All the RTS games built for consoles suck.

    This game is different. It combines the right amount of strategy with a larger part of arcade action and reflexes. There’s plenty to do. 28 single player campaign missions and 12 skirmish mode maps against the AI or local multiplayer.

    The “strategy” in this game is more like the “strategy” of a tower defense game like Pixeljunk Monsters.

    I rate it 8.5/10 for the price. Would be higher with online multiplayer.

  8. avatar Has online!

    With the new Online mode and up to 4 player local-play i have once again been addicted to this game

  9. avatar Georgia

    You can pet this pussy-cat any day, I purr too~Lolly, this looks like a really fun game. I must help my fnliee friends to conquer the world.. And with Joe on the kitty side.. we will NOT lose. This looks really fun and I’d love to play it with my friends. as long.. as we weren’t fighting over which side to be.. because no way I’d be on any other side. (though the undead looks awesome too!) I love silly games, and this looks rather funny. Too bad the story is so short. But maybe they will listen to you and add more. <3did I mention that I'm glad you like kitties?

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