These days, a true platformer is hard to come by – all too often modern developers attempt to combine puzzle elements into the genre, sometimes to the point of convolution.
While there have been some fine innovations to the genre, it’s always nice to get back to our roots every once in a while. Thankfully, Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds does just that, blending classic retro greats such as Gargoyle’s Quest, Virtual Boy Wario Land, and Kirby.
Like most retro games, Mutant Mudds goes from the title screen to gameplay in about 10 seconds. The story is pretty simple; a meteor containing evil Mudd creatures crash lands on Earth, and your Grandma immediately sends you off to save the world. Armed with a simple water jetpack/bazooka, it’s your job to carry out your Grandma’s will and defeat the Mudds over 20 unique stages, navigated through a Kirby-esque world map screen.
Similar to Gargoyle’s Quest, our hero will be able to jump, hover for a few seconds, and fire projectiles – that’s about it. Thankfully, despite the simplistic gameplay, Mutant Mudds controls extremely well, and for the most part, deaths are a result of your imperfections – not the game’s.
In addition to collecting 100 potential gems (that allow you to buy up to three upgrades), each stage has a secret entrance that leads you to either a “G” (Gameboy) or “V” (Virtual Boy) world – complete with monochrome and red wire-frame graphics respectively. These stages, honestly, are the meat of the game (and considering how you start at the beginning of a stage after death, they can also be time consuming).
While it only took me an hour and a half to beat all 20 standard levels and collect every gem, beating the secret worlds is another story – depending on your skill level/patience, it could easily take you 3-4 more hours to complete everything. As a general rule I didn’t think the standard game was that difficult, but the bonus stages are very, very challenging (nowhere near Super Meat Boy challenging, but difficult nonetheless).
To re-iterate how important the extras are, one of the best things about Mutant Mudds is how compelling it is to keep playing it. Just like Super Meat Boy, you can’t help but go for all 100 gems and the secret G/V worlds because they’re so accessible.
Stylistically, the 3D effects are well done, to the point where they’re not necessary, but add to the game’s visual appeal. They’re especially noticeable after you jump on an arrow block and move into the foreground and background, just like Virtual Wario. The graphics and soundtrack also fit the game perfectly, and the OST itself could have easily been considered “classic” in the 90s era.
Mudds does have a few shortcomings however, as there are no bosses in the game to break up the action. While this may come as a relief to people who are tired of the “obligatory” boss trope, I think given the gameplay, they could have easily fit into Mutant Mudd’s framework. Additionally, in the front-most plane, the camera zooms up extremely close, and it’s really hard to see the action.
Despite these issues, Mutant Mudds is an immediate purchase for fans of platformers. It offers up hours of entertainment alongside of crisp retro graphics and an amazing soundtrack, among tons of other throwbacks and homages that are sure to please fans both old and new.
This review is based on a digital copy of the 3DS game Mutant Mudds.