Mutant Mudds is a game I wish I would have played as a kid on my NES. The sheer style of this title from developer Renegade Kid is so entirely old school that it's impossible to deny the fact that this game would have fit in back in the 1980s. Here I am, the owner of several handheld gaming devices and HD home consoles, and I'm glad to be playing something that is, in essence, the purest example of what a 2D platformer should be. Mutant Mudds is a brilliant downloadable title that's not afraid to totally kick your ass and have you begging for more the entire time.
You play as Max, a harmless-looking nerdy kid armed with only his wits, a water cannon, and a water-powered jetpack. It's up to you to save humanity from the titular Mutant Mudds, who have decided to make Earth their new home. The core mechanics in the game are simple. This is a 2D platformer through and through, but there's plenty of combat sprinkled throughout. Enemies are everywhere, and you'll have to take most of them down in order to progress.
Oftentimes, baddies are placed in tricky positions that require you to focus on simultaneously jumping across spike-infested gaps and shooting down your foes. There are other times when the enemies shoot projectiles at you, which makes navigating certain areas even more fiendish. But despite the constant challenges that Mutant Mudds throws your way, the difficulty is never cheap. This game is fair, and if you just observe your surroundings, you'll be able to clear any level.
Mutant Mudds is an absolutely lovely game because it requires you to master it. You can't expect to breeze through the entire experience, because doing so will result in failure. Instead, you need to approach each stage with caution. You have to be ready for anything and just be good at what you're doing. That's right, if you play Mutant Mudds, you need to be good at it. It's not often we see skill as one of the requirements for getting through a game, so it's great that Renegade Kid wasn't afraid to create a world that pushes the player to actually try hard.
Scattered throughout each of the levels are collectible diamonds. You can collect 100 in each level, and if you want to have access to some weapon and jetpack upgrades, you're definitely going to want to snag as many diamonds as you can. If you're worried (or hoping) that these upgrades will make the game easier, you don't even need to take that into consideration, because Mutant Mudds stays challenging even if you have a better jetpack or long-range water cannon.
Mutant Mudds on the PC features 20 challenging levels, each of which has a hidden stage for Max to discover. Upon clearing all 40 stages, you gain access to the special Grannie levels, which star, you guessed it, Max's adorable grandma. These 20 stages are some of the toughest in the game, and you'll need to employ all of your platformer mastery if you intend on getting through them.
While Mutant Mudds on the PC obviously can't offer stereoscopic visuals like the original eShop version, it's still a bright and colorful platformer rife with awesome pixelated graphics. The game even has some levels that pay homage to the original Game Boy and Virtual Boy, which is ridiculously rad. Mutant Mudds doesn't just look old school. Renegade Kid did an incredible job producing a chiptune-heavy soundtrack for the game. I felt like I was enjoying a NES classic the entire time I was playing.
Mutant Mudds is one of the most delightful 2D platformers to come along this year. It boastfully provides an experience that's taken right out of the '80s. Mutant Mudds is, for all intents and purposes, a retro gamer's dream come true. If you haven't played the original eShop version, don't deprive yourself of this stunningly amazing old school-inspired adventure. The world of Mutant Mudds is one you'll want to return to again and again, partially because you're going to love it, but also because it's probably going to take several tries to get through most of the levels.
For a bunch of indie game and burrito talk, follow @thesanchezdavid on Twitter.