Mutant Mudds Review (Nintendo 3DS)
I’ve never been to the development offices over at Renegade Kid, but I have a feeling these guys have a break room packed with Mario gummi snacks, with TV’s hooked up to Nintendo Entertainment Systems, and a PlayChoice 10 sitting over in the corner. These guys must live and breathe old-school, at least from what I can tell with Mutant Mudds, its first downloadable release for the Nintendo 3DS eShop. This game has a lively 8-bit style to it, while integrating the kind of 3D effects in a way that pushes the game forward, rather than serving as a distraction. It truly sets the bar for what downloadable games need to be for the system.
In the game, the Earth is being overrun by these creatures known as Mudds, little rolling balls of mud that are simply making a mess of things. A young kid by the name of Max sees these as a threat to not only his grandmother, but also the planet, so he grabs his water gear and heads out to eradicate the threat. Of course, battling this evil force is a lot more than he bargained for.
Along with dealing with this army of mudballs, Max will also have to be careful through each stage he runs through. Dangers lurk about, including inexplicably spiked floors that can easily end his turn. Fortunately, along with his trusty water cannon, he can also activate a water-powered jet pack, enabling him to hover for a few extra seconds to reach areas just outside his jumping range. While this is nothing revolutionary in a platforming game (Mario sported the FLUDD in Super Mario Sunshine), Mutant Mudds handles it with utmost precision.
The gameplay is pure old-school fun. Mutant Mudds is all about shooting enemies on the fly while avoiding rocks that jump from the distance and collecting diamonds. There are 100 scattered throughout each stage, and picking them all up enables you to unlock additional rewards, including a higher powered water cannon and a better jetpack. You are limited to only using one power-up at a time, but Renegade Kid probably set it up that way so the game wouldn’t be a total pushover. No biggie.
What’s more, it utilizes 3D in an ingenious way, where you can actually jump between the background and foreground without it being a distraction. Enemies pop out beautifully, right at you, and it never gets to the point of feeling gimmicky. Renegade Kid has a damn good idea how the third dimension is supposed to work, and we can only imagine where they’ll take it with their next project.
Along with savvy 3D effects, the graphics smack of old-school NES flavor. The character design is vintage, with tricky level design, cartoon-like explosions and little pieces of environment that stand out in their own right, including clouds and trees. Clearly, Renegade was influenced by the earlier era of video games – thus my estimation of what their offices are like.
For that matter, the music also shines. The soundtrack is definitely of the “bit chip” variety, but truly excellent. The sound effects aren’t much, save for little bop noises and explosions, but they serve their purpose. Plus, I’m happy with the fact that Max isn’t saddled with a cruddy nerd voice. We hate it when the unlikely hero sounds even more unlikely than he’s supposed to be.
The only way Mutant Mudds could’ve been any better is if Renegade added some online leaderboards to the completion times. But that’s a very minor complaint for an otherwise superb platformer that every 3DS owner needs to experience. Mutant Mudds is well worth its $9 price tag, an adventure that’ll remind you of the good ol’ days – or prompt you to check out what made them so special to begin with.