Whenever someone who has recently purchased the Nintendo 3DS approaches me asking what games they should buy to play right away, I don’t give the answers that most would expect. The greatest, most innovative games to grace the platform can be bought for under $20, without the trip to the store, without so much as moving from the couch! The Nintendo eShop has truly become a place for new ideas to thrive, even if these ideas are inspired by the games from our past.
I heard rumblings of Mutant Mudds (from Renegade Kid) through many dedicated Nintendo sites across the Internet, but I had low expectations. Before playing the game, I went into it with a sort of stale mindset, expecting to add Renegade Kid onto the long list of developers that are desperately trying to cater to fans of “the past” instead of creating new ideas.
How many 16-bit-inspired shades of mediocrity does it take until someone finally creates a meaningful game that dares to stand apart from ones of the same ilk? I’m unsure of the answer—but Mutant Mudds, beyond all shadow of a doubt, is that game.
Max, the game’s hero, is enjoying quality time with his Grannie when muddy aliens invade the earth. This is the kind of simple story that can be told in the span of a fifteen second introduction vaguely reminiscent of games like Blaster Master. The Mutant Mudds can only be obliterated by recovering Water Sprites, which are hidden at the end of each level.
Max is equipped a jetpack to help carry him short distances, as well as a water cannon to help him clean up the mess as he traverses through the game’s twenty main levels. There are also twenty more difficult stages hidden within the main levels. Exploring while defeating enemies to get to the end isn’t the only objective though; there are 100 Golden Diamonds within each level to collect. Sometimes, getting to the end is rather simple, but collecting all 100 diamonds poses to be a bit of a challenge.
Collecting every diamond you can find gives you the opportunity to purchase various upgrades for Max’s water cannon and jetpack. Purchasing these upgrades is absolutely vital to uncovering the 20 hidden levels within the game. If you go into a difficult level with the right upgrade in mind, a sticky situation can be handled with relative ease!
At first glance, the gameplay seems reminiscent of early Megaman games. The goal is to simply kill stuff, collect stuff, and move on. But Mutant Mudds does things a little differently. Each level is littered with spots that push Max into the foreground and background of each stage. This aspect of the game is worth devoting its own paragraph to because…(and this is something I don’t say about many 3DS games unfortunately) it makes the 3D effect absolutely outstanding and worth turning on for the entire experience if only to truly feel a sense of depth.
It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me, that a downloadable game can offer a true 3D experience that rivals those of full blown retail powerhouses like Super Mario 3D Land, but I absolutely stand by what I’ve said.
As far as the graphics themselves go—they’re quite charming. As I made my way through the game’s multiple environments (from forests, to lava pits, to the sky) and saw the various mutants for what they truly were—I am happy to report my early impressions before experiencing the game for myself couldn’t possibly be any more wrong. I adore the soundtrack as well. While making my way through each level (struggling for quite some time on a lot of them), I never got tired of what I was hearing.
I had an absolute blast playing through the game, in its entirety. It even has a clever way of rewarding players who 100% the game! This secret will no doubt make future playthroughs all the more enjoyable. For those who are curious, the entire experience took me about 19 hours to master. That’s a lot of dedication for a downloadable platformer!
In a market truly over-saturated with throwbacks, Mutant Mudds is truly a diamond in the rough that cleans out the competition. I cannot accurately express how pleasantly surprised I was to run into a game packed full of this much charm, whose ambiance truly is innovative, despite maintaining an air of nostalgia about it. There are very few games out there that make me feel like I’m transported back to the 90s when I play them—but Mutant Mudds is most certainly one of them… and it has the added bonus of 3D visuals that truly hold their own.
Mutant Mudds is available on the Nintendo eShop for $8.99. It’s been out in America for a while now, but its release in Europe is coming in only a matter of days.