By Stacey Flewelling / April 7th, 2015
|Title||Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble
|Developer||Red Fly Studio|
|Publisher||Red Fly Studio|
|Release Date||10 March 2015|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone|
In the gaming industry, sequels can either make or break you as a developer. It can fully demonstrate your capabilities and show that you are well on your way towards creating a pantheon of amazing games that gamers can enjoy and potentially go back and check out your older titles. Making a good game from the start is a pretty daunting task, as you want to build up your credentials as a developer and create an ironclad fanbase full of rabid, hungry people wanting to play your next installment.
For the platformer genre, there’s generally a master list of things that make for a good platformer. Presentation is a big part. You want a game’s presentation itself to be a good thing, from graphics to story to the ending. Controls are something else that is ultimately important in how a platformer plays. If you miss the buck on controls, you’ll leave the players extremely frustrated, and they’ll more than likely put the game down and never venture forth into sequels that are created. Finally, an important aspect of platformer greatness is making it not frustrating for players to enjoy and ensuring that bugs aren’t there to ruin the experience.
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, the first game in the series, was released exclusively for the seventh generation of Nintendo gaming platforms, the Wii and the DS, and was created by Red Fly Studio. It fared decently in terms of aggregate and it, in general, created a pretty solid foundation for itself. It was fairly niche, as there wasn’t a large fanbase for it. However, the fanbase that it did accrue for itself was very passionate about the game as a whole. It was decently received by critics which is not too shabby considering the nature of the game’s popularity.
Enter Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble. A vast departure from the action adventure stylized game that Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars delivered. Truffle Trouble was released on Steam on 10 March 2015 after it went through Steam’s Greenlight game approval system. I understand that indie gaming companies want to make their mark on the video game industry. However, with the inflation of games on the market since Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and Steam made publishing games on their systems easier, it seems like we’re seeing an overwhelming influx of games that are horrible by design, either intentionally or otherwise.
Truffle Trouble is a puzzle platformer where you navigate Pax, the quirky fungus protagonist, through a corridor of platforms of varying difficulty and solve puzzles by way of manipulating cubes. Your task ultimately is to reach the end and hop in bed to end a veritable nightmare of sorts. While this is happening, a huge monster known as the Truffle Princess, who’s completely in love with Pax, chases after you. If she successfully captures you, the level ends and you must restart from the beginning. This presents a myriad of issues.
The fundamentals of the game are this: You are Pax, a cute quirky mushroom guy who is being pursued by the Truffle Princess who is completely cap over stem (head over heels) in love with Pax. During the night, Pax has terrible nightmares where the Truffle Princess, an absolutely gigantic and grotesque fungal monstrosity, chases after him. As Pax, you are tasked with running across a cuboid 3D landscape all the while pushing, tugging, picking up and slamming blocks down in order to traverse the level. Some blocks, however, have unique properties which change how blocks and Pax are manipulated in the game. Ice blocks prevent other blocks from being placed and cause Pax to slip and slide around, making navigation a chore. Some blocks have trampolines, and gooey sticky blocks that impede the act of jumping.
While you are travelling through the level, you collect spores which, if you collect enough, allow you to transform into a variety of creatures that can help you complete each level. The forms that you can transform into are a spider that can scale walls, a mole that can pillage through obstacles and enemies, and a moth that can fly for a small duration of time. The spores are sometimes located in tricky spots, so collecting enough can lend to the challenge of the game. I appreciated the mechanic of being able to hang on the ledges and find alternative routes. That made me feel like I was achieving expert levels of gameplay. Another aspect of the gameplay that I liked was when you fell off the ledge, you weren’t forced to restart the whole level. You basically spawned where you last fell.
I do have some complaints about Truffle Trouble. I feel the game was rushed in production and that Red Fly Studio was so anxious to get the game out that they failed to run basic QA, thusly contributing to its flawed execution. The controls are extremely buggy and the method of executing certain moves that you’re taught in the tutorial doesn’t work half the time. So, you’re furiously trying to get the puzzle solved, leap across gaps and all the while trying to avoid the Truffle Princess. Second of all, the camera angle makes it kind of tricky to navigate the cuboid platforms, and you might find yourself falling off the edge frequently, which could frustrate you further. Finally, the last thing that irritated me was the concept of trial and error that is put upon you as you try to push yourself through the levels. It essentially forces you to utilize a tremendous amount of muscle memory to know exactly where to go, how to solve each puzzle and keep away from the Truffle Princess. There is some relief, however, for those of you who do not want a challenge. There is an Easy Mode which allows you to complete levels at your own pace free of the pursuit of the Truffle Princess. I’m glad they offered this mode because it allowed me to actually get through the game without becoming frustrated. The one downside of this is that it really does reveal the simplicity of the game, so my suggestion is to use this only if you want to enjoy the game for what it is.
It is unfortunate that the controls are so wonky, difficult to master and buggy because Truffle Trouble had a lot of potential, but it missed the buck on the fundamentals of platform gameplay and puzzle solving. It makes me sad because I generally love these types of games and have a huge penchant for games that have a cuboid nature to them. Maybe future updates can correct some of the troubling aspects of this game.
General issues aside, I have to praise Red Fly Studio for the graphics and the music. What a fantastic bundle of eyecandy and earcandy. I found myself standing around in the game and just enjoying the ambience and the music. Some areas are downright psychedelic and trippy to look at. Collectively, it makes for a very visually and aurally fantastic game. In normal mode, the music speeds up as the Truffle Princess catches up to you, causing your blood pressure to rise. This definitely adds to the excitement of the game.
While Red Fly Studio had their hearts in the right place with Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble, it is simply a game that contains a host of issues that take away from the gaming experience. It really bums me out because as I stated earlier, I have a huge penchant for cuboid games and an even larger appetite for games that feature things to do with mushrooms. I really wanted to like this game to its fullest, but the bugs and controls just prevent me from doing that. We can only hope that Red Fly Studio can release patches to correct the issues so that people can fully embrace the true imagination and power behind this game. For a game that is $11.99, I didn’t feel like it was worth the cost. It only took me about six to nine hours to complete. Ultimately, you’re best waiting for a Steam sale on this if you’re still interested in trying this game out.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
mushroom men truffle troublered fly studioSteam