Review by horror_spooky
The successor to the DSiWare service is the eShop on the Nintendo 3DS. The eShop is home to nearly all of the DSiWare games that were released, as well as game demos, full retail downloads, eShop exclusive games, and Virtual Console games. In the early days of the eShop, one of the biggest games that released for the platform was Mutant Mudds, an interesting platformer from Renegade Kid, faithful Nintendo handheld developers that created the games Dementium: The Ward and Moon. However, Mutant Mudds is a very different beast.
In Mutant Mudds, players take control of the main character, who has no name as far as I know. This young lad is blonde, dresses like a stereotypical nerd, and just happens to have access to a jetpack that he can use to hover around. A television broadcast reveals the invasion of mud-like creatures in the world, and it's up to this silly-looking fellow to save the day. Obviously, the premise is pretty ridiculous, but it's a platformer game, and the story doesn't have to be award-winning material to get the point across.
Mutant Mudds plays almost like an homage to Mega Man in many ways. The player is armed with a gun that only shoots out so far, and the platforming challenges in the game are more reminiscent of Mega Man than anything else. Players have to time their jumps as well as their shots to traverse levels successfully. There is a limited amount of health for the player in each level, and there are multiple mud enemies that will attack, each needing their own strategy to take out.
Mutant Mudds can become incredibly difficult, especially in the later levels of the game. Impatient players will not find much to like here, but those looking for a healthy challenge can really do no better on the eShop. Besides just completing levels, there are other challenges that players must complete inside each level if they really want to play through the full game. Collecting the coins in the levels is a definite challenge, plus there's finding secret worlds that are tucked away in tricky areas of each level. These coins can actually be spent a shop to upgrade the kid's abilities, but only one upgrade can be equipped at a time, which I found disappointing and too restricting.
The main gimmick in Mutant Mudds is the ability to hop from the front of the screen to the foreground. Typically in platformers like this, the foreground is just for looks, but in Mutant Mudds, players will find themselves traveling between it and the front of the screen frequently in an attempt to get through the levels and find every collectible. This is where the 3DS's 3D effect really comes in handy. There are very few games that have managed to successfully translate using 3D into new gameplay mechanics, but Mutant Mudds has accomplished this.
Unfortunately, Mutant Mudds is certainly not perfect in the 3D department. The 3D is sometimes far too strong, even when the slider is turned down, causing irritating ghosting issues. When the 3D is working good, then Mutant Mudds looks great. Even though the game is comprised of 2D sprites, harkening back to the 8-bit era, sprites look really cool in 3D. It's like the characters are popping out of the screen, yet there is great depth to the background as well. Mutant Mudds has a unique charm about it, even if the art style is a little simplistic, and while the 3D effect can be hit or miss, when it hits, it hits hard.
It has a high difficulty level and a nice amount of content to uncover, but even then, Mutant Mudds can be fully completed in about five hours. Yes, there will be levels that will make you want to pull your hair out, but there's simply not enough levels to keep players coming back for more. Once this mountain is climbed, there is no real incentive to revisit it, but the time there is well spent.
Mutant Mudds remains one of the best choices on the eShop. It is an eye-pleasing platformer that is one of the few 3DS games that tries to take full advantage of the unique features of the system. Its gimmick is well-done, and those looking for challenge have found it. If I were to make a list of eShop essentials, this game would top it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Mutant Mudds (US, 01/26/12)
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