Mutant Mudds, this week’s highlight on the Nintendo eShop, is a retro-styled 2D platformer by Dementium developer, Renegade Kid. It’s also a trial of patience, and a personification of the saying “slow and steady wins the race”.
This point, however, doesn’t apply to the game’s intro. Mutant Mudds is eager to let you start playing it, so it quickly sets up a premise and lets you go on your merry way. Max and his grandmother are enjoying a quiet day at home when a comet hits the earth, bringing with it the evil Mutant Mudds. Next thing you know, you’re in the game’s first stage, carrying a water cannon and a water-powered jetpack.
B makes Max jump. Pressing B again in the air turns on the jetpack, which lets him hover for a very brief period. Y makes Max shoot.
Mutant Mudds’ crutch — the primary feature that it consistently falls back on — is de-materializing platforms. As you make your way through its stages, you’ll come across platforms that phase in and out of existence. It’s almost always impossible to simply jump onto one of these platforms when they’re solid, however. They usually tend to be placed beyond regular jumping distance, which means you need to use your jetpack to reach them.
Using the jetpack lets you hover, but only for a very brief period — a second or two, at the most — until it gives out and needs to recharge. You also can’t gain any upward momentum while using it. You can go left or right for as long as your jetpack lasts, but the height at which you fly depends on how high you were in the air when you activated it. The trick is to time your flight so you can land on a platform while it’s solid, and jump right off again before it de-materializes once more.
This is harder than it sounds because these tricky platforms are often placed at varying distances, so you’ll need to take into account how long it would take you to fly over to a platform before it de-materializes. Do you start flying toward it when it’s solid? Or do you start when it has de-materialized and try to time your flight so you’re right over it as it materializes again?
Mutant Mudds is a trial of patience because it isn’t the kind of platformer you simply hop, skip and jump through. Each time you come across a trick platform, you have to stop, look at how far away it is, and then judge what your plan of action should be. There are no checkpoints, and dying means starting over at the beginning of the stage. Stages are bite-sized, however, and the game encourages you to play them over and over again, until you get it right and reach the end.
Stages also have points where you can jump into the foreground and background, and this is where the game “3DS-ness” is made apparent. Sometimes, you jump into the background and control a tiny Max far off in the distance. Other times, you jump into the foreground, and he appears much larger. And then, of course, there’s the layer in between, which is where most of the game takes place. If you have the 3D turned on, it gives the different layers a nice sense of depth.
In every stage, you’ll find diamonds that you can collect. Each stage has 100 diamonds. Collecting these allows you to buy upgrades for Max’s jetpack and water-cannon from granny. Upgraded items make your life easier, and can also be used to access hidden stages.
While you may not realize it, Mutant Mudds has many more stages than it lets on at first. Within each regular stage is a hidden stage. These stages are entirely black and red in colour, which is perhaps an homage to the Virtual Boy, Nintendo’s first 3D device. Sometimes, they require an upgraded item to access them. Other times, the door to the secret stage is simply very cleverly hidden, and you’ll need to find it. There’s 40 stages in total.
Food for thought:
1. Aside from getting to the end, each stage has two sub-goals for you to complete: collecting all 100 diamonds and clearing the hidden stage. Completing sub-goals unlocks even more stages to play.
2. While you may not realize it at first, you can run out of time before you reach the end of a stage. There’s an invisible timer that doesn’t let you loiter around for too long. That said, in most cases, you’ll have more than enough time to complete the stage, even with a few goof-ups and missed jumps.
3. It’s nice that objects aren’t blurry, regardless of whether they’re in the foreground or background. Regardless of what layer you’re on, the game remains nice and sharp. Here’s a comparison: