Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review (Wii U): “Getting Muddy Shouldn’t Be This Fun”

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Mutant Mudds was a 2D platformer that released for the 3DS back in 2012 by developer Renegade Kid. Over time, the game has seen a rendition for the iOS and Steam. Renegade Kid has now brought the game to Nintendo’s new console, which is also their first title for the Wii U. While the game was intended for play on the 3DS due to its foreground and background transitioning, how does it handle on the Wii U?

Upon booting up the game, you’re quickly introduced to your main character Max relaxing at his house with Grannie, until all of a sudden, a meteor crashes onto the planet. A newscast then appears on the TV that there’s an invasion of mud-like creatures running rampant. From here, you’ll run out and do what you can to put a stop to this infestation. If you’ve never played Mutant Mudds, the mechanics are simple to pickup-and-play. You’ll wield a water cannon and H20-powered jetpack (which shoots out bubbles to propel Max) to help you along your journey. You’ll use the D-Pad or Analog Stick to move Max in the 2D environment, while the Y button will shoot the water gun and the B button will let you jump. Double-tapping the B button will trigger your jetpack to let you hover your way to distant platforms. Careful though, as the jetpack only lasts for a few short seconds and must recharge (which is instant) when you touch the ground. Controls are incredibly simple, responsive and just plain old-school. To provide more comfortability, you can play the game with literally any combination of controllers that the Wii U can read. The Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote, Wii Remote with Nunchuk, and Wii Classic Controller are all options for you to play with.

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In the game, there are four levels within five environments: plains, cave, volcanic castle, mountains and outer space. You will have a time limit during each stage, but that never really becomes much of an issue. Throughout the levels, you’ll platform your way to the exit collecting the 100 water sprites littered around and taking out the Mudds. Platforming will take place between three different panes: foreground, mid-ground, and background. You’ll switch between them with the jump pads placed around levels as you try and nab all the water sprites. Your health consists of three hearts…and only three hearts. There are no health items to collect, so being cautious is a must. Thankfully, new to the Wii U version (compared to the 3DS version) is the ability to reach checkpoints in a level. While these might not seem as necessary in the earlier levels, the latter half has you thanking the game for having these implemented. Of course, for the masochist gamers, you can turn checkpoints off when pausing the game while roaming the HUB, basically making the game return to its original 3DS state. Enemies are scattered throughout levels and there are quite a variety to encounter. The game starts off by throwing ground mudds at you that simply move back and forth. As you progress, you’ll take on bigger mudds that shoot eyeballs at you, flying eyeball mudds, flying mudds that drop bombs, micro-sized mudds and warrior mudds (which wield swords and shields).

As you collect water sprites, you can visit Grannie’s Attic in the HUB to acquire a new upgrade for Max to utilize. There are three upgrades you can acquire: a powerup for your water cannon, an extended jetpack meter and a hi-jump ability. You can only choose one of these at a time for use in levels but you’ll unlock them in the order where they’ll become most useful. For example, the extended jetpack meter will become available if you’ve collected all 100 water sprites in the first two worlds, in time for the third world where it’ll be very handy. Some powerups will become more handy in certain levels and makes experimenting with them an interesting component. To make things more adventurous, each level contains a secret area that can be unlocked. However, to unlock these, you’ll need a certain upgrade equipped. Certain paths may be blocked off by a wall, which would require you to have the upgraded water cannon to shoot it down. Others may either be at a higher to reach altitude or farther distance to reach that can only be reached with a specific upgrade.

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Warrior mudds are one of the most difficult enemies to deal with due to their shield and thrust attacks.

If all this wasn’t enough, there’s a mirror in the HUB that when walked through will take Max to an alternate universe. This alternate universe is basically a ghost world of the original areas, where enemies will become transparent and platforms will move, making you have to be on edge to avoid getting crushed between walls. Since the enemies are ghosts, you’ll have to collect a specific gun found in levels that provides you 10 shots to take them out. However, each ghost mudd takes a few shots to go down, so being strategic with your shots and what you shoot is an absolute must. The mirrored world is dramatically harder than the main world’s levels, and will demand the utmost skill to successfully complete. Also, you can unlock Grannie as a playable character, who has her own set of levels and can utilize all three powerups at once. Only the best of the best will be able to unlock her, bringing about an old-school sense of accomplishment that few games bring to the table.

Visually, Mutant Mudds Deluxe replicates everything an old-school gamer will crack a smile to. From its vibrant, colorful sprites, to great animations and a high frame rate, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is an incredibly crisp looking game. All the environments have a distinct look to them, as do the enemies Max will face. The game’s overall visual aesthetic is very engrossing to get into. However, there’s one particular feature that I was curious about when hearing the game was coming from the 3DS to the Wii U, the 3D element. For the 3DS, the 3D slider really helped the player gain a better perspective as to which part of the background the action was taking place in. Whether it was the foreground, background or in-between, you could easily tell where to distinguish the action. Well, I’m glad to state that Renegade Kid has nailed the transition from 3DS to Wii U by making the 3D element handled with the GamePad and TV screen. To explain it better, the game will be more zoomed out on the TV, while the GamePad will be a bit closer. When in the middle, the TV or GamePad are completely suitable for play. However, if you go into the background areas, the GamePad will be much easier to distinguish objects due to the zoomed-in camera. If you’re in the foreground, the TV will become the better suit of screen to play on so that you have more distance to view up-close. It’s much better to witness in action than explain, but it works remarkably well. As far as audio goes, the sound effects are cheery and do a very good job conveying what pertains to which object. The soundtrack in particular is very catchy, with its retro style tunes that’ll be sticking with you.

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Ghost mudds, lava and spikes…oh my!

Mutant Mudds Deluxe is an enhanced version of a great 3DS game. However, seeing the additions and slight changes put into the core game, this is by far the superior version to get. From the vibrant retro visuals, great audio and addictive gameplay, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is an absolute must own for the Wii U. The game is meant to be as old-school as possible, and that’s what I absolutely loved about it. If you’re a fan of platformers, and more importantly retro games in general, do not let Mutant Mudds Deluxe go past you. It’s a terrific game that nails the term “old-school” and we need more games like this.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to Renegade Kid for providing us the review copy for Mutant Mudds Deluxe!

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Planet Crashers Review (3DSWare)

Planet Crashers is a story-driven RPG developed by Renegade Kid on the 3DS Nintendo eShop. Calling Planet Crashers a story-driven RPG definitely evokes expectations of a huge, complex world to explore with many interesting characters to meet along the way. No doubt this is a popular genre on Nintendo’s portable consoles, including the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance. So does Planet Crashers bring anything new to a tried-and-true category, or just follow suit? Let’s find out.

One of the most immediately-noticeable features of Planet Crashers is its whimsical, quirky art style and sense of humor. Though simple, the game is filled with a lot of interesting sights, not the first of which is your avatar in-game. Upon entering the game’s main menu, the first selectable option is to customize your hero, and the list of options here is exhaustive: you can name your hero, choose their gender, skin color, hair, eyes, mouth, and clothes. Several options in each category are unlocked right off the bat, but others are also locked and must be earned in-game. Many of the facial features available make your hero look like a devious troublemaker, but several options exist otherwise, and can be mixed and matched. Still, in a game with a story placing your character as the “best hope to save the galaxy”, one would expect a few more heroic-looking options.

At any rate, upon finishing your customizations, you can “Start Quest” (start or resume a saved game), enter Local or Internet Play, or Delete your saved Data. The single- and multi-player components have a lot of dependence on each other, but let’s get into the single-player game first, as that’s going to be where you spend a lot of your time playing Planet Crashers.

Upon starting a new game, you’ll be filled in on the story: a mysterious force is threatening the galaxy, and as a young graduate of the Planet Crashers Academy, it’s up to you to find out more about this imminent danger and to stop it. The game starts you in your character’s home on the planet Lushy Greeny, and although there are a lot of items decorating it, there doesn’t seem to be any way to interact with them. Stepping outside reveals the rest of the planet, complete with scenary, characters, dungeons, and shops to interact with. The central element that pushes the gameplay along is the game’s quest system. Most of your quests will come from the Job Board outside your house, but some characters will also grant you quests, like the person standing outside your home. Quests often ask you to rescue a person in a dungeon, bring an item to someone, or retrieve an item from a dungeon, among others. The way the game executes this system is a bit flawed, however, and might throw some players off. Upon entering my first dungeon (simply named Green Dungeon), I looked for a wallet which was supposed to be on the first floor, yet was nowhere to be seen, either on my map or in my viewport. As it turns out, you need to check your Quest Log outside of a dungeon and select a quest to accept before entering. It’s a bit odd that the developer didn’t just have the game accept a quest for you automatically if you neglect to, but it’s a lesson I learned quickly. Another inconvenient aspect of the quest system is the fact that you can only perform one quest at a time, and upon completing it, will instantly be teleported back home, making it impossible to complete other quests on that floor. All in all, it makes the game feel much more like a grind than an engaging experience. The worst part, however, is the fact that you can’t save your game manually – the game will only save upon completing a quest, and if you shut the game off before that, your game will revert to your last save the next time you start up, which forces you to play when you might not want to.

Aside from questing, you’ll see other character bustling towards you in dungeons, waiting to fight with you. Upon colliding with an enemy, you’ll enter a battle screen with your opponent. Planet Crashers’ battle system is a fairly-simple turn-based format. You and your opponent will take turns slugging it out until one of you is knocked out. Characters have four stats that determine their performance in battle: Attack, Defense, Speed, and HP. HP increases automatically upon leveling up, but Attack, Defense, and Speed are chosen by the player. You can also equip your character with weapons to increase your attack power, and some of them are downright silly, like a giant pencil or a petrified banana. Planet Crashers takes a cue from games like Pokemon in that your character can collect a set of skills and assign up to four of them at a time to use in battle. At first, “Strike” will be the only skill you have, but you can learn others as you progress, such as “Concussive Strike”, which deals more damage than its entry-level counterpart. Planet Crashers also borrows from the Super Mario RPG line of games by allowing you to deal more damage by pressing the “A” button at the right time during your attack animation. A small image will pop up to let you know when to hit it, and this can happen more than once per attack. It may not be a new idea, but it’s a great inclusion to help Planet Crashers’ combat from becoming boring. You can also use items, swap out skills, or retreat on your turn, and sometimes the right strategic move can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Though the game’s combat system is solid, it suffers from a few issues. What I’m left wondering is, if the game lets you press “A” to increase your damage during attacks, why not borrow SMRPG’s system entirely and improve defense during an opponent’s attack by pressing “A” at the right time? Attacking is fun, but being on the defense and watching your character get pummeled isn’t quite as much. This is more of a minor gripe compared to a much bigger issue about Planet Crashers’ combat – it’s completely avoidable. When moving around in a dungeon, it’s possible to outmaneuver any enemy that comes at you. This is due to the fact that enemies can’t move as fast as you, and they will stand in place as long as you do. Thus, if you wanted to, you could avoid combat entirely and just rush to your quest objective in a dungeon – and this is something I found myself doing a lot, unfortunately, namely because battles aren’t very rewarding either. Beating an enemy gives a small amount of gold and experience points (XP), but it’s much, much more efficient to simply get your quests done as fast as you can, making combat feel more like a punishment for not paying attention to that Crazy Chris running at you.

Perhaps the biggest shame in Planet Crashers’ gameplay is the inclusion of the multiplayer mode. The game’s description for the iPhone mentions a GPS feature, allowing players to team up with others and adventure together, receiving special bonuses for playing with others in their area. There is no such mention of that feature in the 3DS version of the game. In fact, the only multiplayer option available is 1-on-1 battling with other players

To sum it up, Planet Crashers’ gameplay feels like similar browser-based RPGs, and definitely takes a back-seat to the game’s story and art direction, somewhere where the game excels. The art direction is cute, artsy, and definitely lends itself to the game’s overall light-hearted, feel-good theme. The music is upbeat and simple, and the character interactions are downright laugh-worthy – there’s nothing like a sign at a dungeon entrance calling you a chicken for choosing not to enter, and if a wooden post can evoke that kind of personality, wait until you meet some of the other characters in the game’s universe. Characters also skip and bustle around the screen, and combat is totally ridiculous – hearing stock “bashing” sounds while your character is spun and tossed by the enemy is surprisingly humorous. It’s small charms like this that make Planet Crashers a cute, charming experience. The 3D functionality is well-used too, and really works in conjunction with Planet Crashers’ rotating planet levels to provide a real sense of depth.

In closing, Planet Crashers isn’t for everyone. Those of you looking for a hardcore RPG experience should avoid Planet Crashers, as you’ll probably be more frustrated than engaged. However, those looking for a more casual, pick-up-and-play experience with a whimsical style might find Planet Crashers more their speed.

FINAL VERDICT: 5.0 / 10 = Wait for Price Drop

Special thanks to UTV Ignition Entertainment for providing us with a review copy of Planet Crashers!