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Mutant Mudds (Nintendo 3DS eShop) Review
Review by 
8.39/10 from 13 user ratings
Renegade Kid's critically acclaimed retro-style platformer has finally launched on the eShop. Is it the next great addition to a growing list of titles?

Max has a lot of work to do. (Screen courtesy of Renegade Kid)

The game's premise starts out simple enough. Max is at his Grannie's house when, out of nowhere, the Mutant Mudds invade the earth. Determined to stop them, Max arms himself with a water pistol and jetpack and heads out to collect the Water Sprites necessary to stop them. That's about it for the story, though like most classic platformers, it doesn't need a grandiose story to add to the gameplay.

The game is split up into 40 levels, 20 regular levels and 20 secret levels. In all of those stages, Max has to jump, hover, and shoot his way to the Water Sprite at the end of the stage. The level design is decent enough, and while it starts out simple, the challenge slowly ramps up to test even the best of gamers by the time you reach the fifth world. If you see an arrow on the ground, press B and Max will be wisked into the foreground or background layer. The platforming is tightly designed, and the controls are rock solid as well.

In each of the 20 main levels, there are 100 Golden Diamonds to collect. Once you collect enough, you can unlock power-ups for Max to use. One of them extends the water pistol's shot distance and the number of shots he can fire at a time. Another doubles the time he can hover using the jet pack. The last allows Max to super jump by pressing up and B, which is very useful in the later stages. Unfortunately, you can only use one power-up at a time, and you have to keep returning to Grannie's house to swap them.

A secret level, Virtual Boy style. They also come in Game Boy style. (Screen courtesy of Renegade Kid)

In addition, each of the 20 main levels houses a secret level. Some are easy to access, but some require specific power-ups to access. These levels house Water Sprites with no Gold Diamonds. They are inspired by the Game Boy and the Virtual Boy. Their colors mostly reflect this, although Max and the Mudds keep their original colors (which was odd to me, but most gamers probably won't mind).

Graphically, the game is a total throwback to the NES/SNES era of gaming. Sprites are fluidly animated and look nice, and the game runs at a solid framerate throughout. The 3D effect is one of Mudds' strong points. It adds a true sense of depth to the gameplay, especially when Max jumps into the foreground or background and when he encounters the Mudd Maces, horizontal rotating balls of spikes. The music features some nice chiptunes and retro sound effects.

Ultimately, the game has a couple of big drawbacks. There isn't much variety to be seen in Mudds. All Max can do is basically shoot enemies, jump around and collect Diamonds. There isn't much else to do. It's not bad, but by the fifth stage (which was in space, you'd think gravity would change or something) it got to be mundane.

Also, like I mentioned before, the power-up system is archaic. Having to leave a level to switch power-ups was a curious design decision (even though this is remedied once you 100% the game, but by that time it's a bit late). Finally, the game's length. I fully completed the game in just over five hours. It's not a long game at all.

Gameplay trailer. (Video courtesy of Renegade Kid)

Mutant Mudds isn't a bad game. It's a good game, just not a great one. I recommend it if you're looking for a good old-school game, but I would recommend VVVVVV first.

Editor's note 1: I'm aware that VVVVVV and Mutant Mudds are completely different games. I changed the word "platformer" to "game" in the last sentence to reflect that. My apologies.

Editor's note 2: The new Grannie levels don't do enough for me to change the score. They're challenging, but...that's about it.

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Posted: 01/30/12, 17:32:01  - Edited by 
 on: 10/25/12, 22:07:55    
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Good review, Lewis! Do you think that playing through it so quickly sort of dampened your enthusiasm? It seems like the kind of game that would be best consumed in small chunks, somehow...

Anyway, I'm still on Level 2, but your points seem reasonable. Even if it ultimately doesn't blow me away, I wanted to support Jools Watsham, because he's cool. And I certainly ain't gonna buy Face Racers.

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:28:25

Thanks! I wanted to take my time with it more, but before I knew it, I was in the fourth world, so I just decided to play on through. I don't think my quick playtime had anything to do with my enthusiasm. I was worried about it from the get-go of being so samey, and sadly, that came true. A little bit more variety (aside from the slippery ice) would have gone a long way.

Still not a bad game and I don't regret my purchase. It just could have been better, you know?

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:34:16
Yeah, I know what you mean. It's just that it might not have felt so samey if you had played it over the course of two years, like I plan to. One level a month.

Funnily enough, seeing the ice level (and the Virtual Boy levels) in the trailer is what convinced me that the game would switch it up a bit.

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:36:09  - Edited by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:36:21
I figured with the fifth world, there would be a gravity mechanic or something. Sadly, nothing new. I was also wishing that Max and the Mudds would be in the same color scheme in the secret levels (all red in the VB stages, monochrome in the GB stages). I guess I see why they did it the way that they did, but it would have been cool to see that switch up too.

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:40:52
Those are good ideas!

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 18:51:12
Seems fair. I'm having fun with this one and ultimately will probably score it higher than a 7, but I also think that it doesn't quite reach the heights of stuff like Pushmo and VVVVVV. So far. I'm like 8? stages into the game. I like it though. It feels neat to play something that really has an SNES feel to it. And it has a good deal of challenge as well.

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 20:01:10
So that one screen full of doors contains all the levels in the game? Well, for me that's great considering the state of gaming-mind I am in right now, but yeah, seems short.

I will probably get this game finished up tomorrow or so. As of right now, it's hovering around a 7-8 for me.

Good review!!

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 20:47:46

Yeah, that's all the levels in the game. Those four doors in the foreground will open up once you finish the first four worlds with every Golden Diamond (I think). I knew it was short going in, and had I not gone for all 40 Water Sprites, it would have been a lot shorter.


Pretty much. Like I said, it's not bad, but it doesn't reach its potential (or even come close to doing so).

Posted by 
 on: 01/30/12, 21:13:24
I'd give this game a 6/10, it would be a 9/10 if it wasn't for the timer, running out of time a few seconds before the goal and having to replay the entire level get's very old, very fast.

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/12, 03:19:53
You hate timers, though, right?

To be fair, that does sound annoying. I'll just make sure to stay alert and not dawdle when I play more. I think a lot of gamers love exploring. For that type, timers are a pretty big anchovy in the ice cream.

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/12, 03:31:35
The timer is too short, it's a cheap way of increasing the difficulty by making you slog through an entire level again if you aren't super fast or make a couple little mistakes. I prefer games like Mario where you have plenty of time to complete the level but you're rewarded for doing it faster, if speed is your thing.

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/12, 04:40:15  - Edited by 
 on: 02/07/12, 04:48:47
I never had an issue with the timer (hence why I didn't think to mention it), but I agree that it shouldn't have been in the game in the first place, or it should have been more varied other than four minutes in each level.

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/12, 14:28:02  - Edited by 
 on: 02/07/12, 17:05:32
I'm actually kind of liking the timer now. It takes a lot of situations which would be simple without it and makes you really push yourself to master them efficiently, taking more risks, etc.

I still wish it had a "you're about to die" warning though. It's annoying to have to keep visually checking it, especially since it's not even on the same screen as you're playing on.

Actually as a whole it seems a lot of people are unhappy with this game, but I'm liking it a lot. There are some dumb decisions (like only using one upgrade at a time, which means you often have to go into a stage and get to the red door just to find out which upgrade you should have brought with) but overall it hits this part of me that few recent games have. I mean, it really feels like an old SNES platformer, whereas most "retro" games feel more modern than they look. I'm not saying it's an amazing game, but I like it.

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/12, 16:48:51
I played a bit more on the train. Pretty fun.

Are there Time Trials? It seems like the game would be suited to them.

Also, the 3D makes such a difference in playability! I was accidentally playing in 2D for fifteen minutes, and it was hella confusing.

Posted by 
 on: 02/08/12, 02:06:45

No Time Trials, though I agree that they (with online leaderboards attached to them) would have given Mudds more replayability.

Posted by 
 on: 02/08/12, 06:37:29  - Edited by 
 on: 07/10/12, 21:21:57
Nice review, I'm really interested in playing this game as I love these platformers.

Zero said:
I still wish it had a "you're about to die" warning though. It's annoying to have to keep visually checking it, especially since it's not even on the same screen as you're playing on.

Yeah, it would have been great if they did something as simple as speed up the music like a well-known Nintendo platformer did back in 1985! After all, it's obvious the developer is paying homage to Nintendo with the Game Boy and VB graphics references on certain levels.

Ludist, based on the shortcomings you found with the game, it doesn't sound like it would bother me that much. And like @Anand mentioned, it's great to support guys like Jools Watsham. I hope to get this soon!

Posted by 
 on: 02/17/12, 21:37:59
I've beaten most of the normal stages and I'm going through doing the bonus stages now. It's a little annoying that you don't know what power-up you need to get to the bonus stage until you see it (at least you have a 33% chance of being right) but otherwise... I think I'm liking this game even more now. The bonus stages have just the right level of challenge. They really make you work to get through ok.

Posted by 
 on: 02/18/12, 17:48:07
I actually fully agree with the score. You will enjoy it much if you like platforming. That is all.

Posted by 
 on: 02/18/12, 21:55:39

I encourage you to give it a shot if you have the money. I had no problem with the stage design at all. That was excellent. The controls were tight and worked great. The production values were also very good. My problem with the game were some of the design decisions.

Like @Zero said, the power-up system is terrible. It'd be like playing, say, Mega Man 2 and getting to a boss only to realize that you had the wrong weapon. Instead of being able to pause and switch weapons on the fly, you'd need to leave the stage you were in, go back to the previous robot master's level, defeat him again, then start the stage that was giving you trouble all over again.

It's not that tedious in Mudds (most of the stages are relatively short in length), but it's annoying and a curious design decision. I didn't need all three power-ups at once, but the ability to switch between them on-the-fly would have been a vast improvement. Unlocking that ability after you beat the game with all forty Water Sprites and 2000 Golden Diamonds is too little, too late.

Then there's the worlds themselves. Sure, the environments are different, but nearly every level (save for the ice levels) plays the same. A change in gravity or physics would have added even more challenge or at least added a little variety. That's nitpicking, but the space world? Same gravity as the other four worlds...seems odd.

Then there's the issue of replayability. Mudds arguably has very little. I did everything that I had to do in just a hare over five hours, and there's no reason to go back and play it again. There are no side quests, second quests, additional unlockables, or bonus levels aside from what you do in the main game. Once it's over, it's pretty much over.

I have no problem supporting indie developers, but I absolutely will not buy a sequel to Mutant Mudds if it's just more of the same.

Posted by 
 on: 02/28/12, 18:37:42
I just completed the game tonight! 100%'d the thing, even. Holy crap, that last stage was challenging!

I really enjoyed my time with Mutant Mudds - it was a wonderful throwback title to the games of yesteryear. It really felt like a 'time capsule' kind of game; like it was pulled out of 1992 or something. (not counting the stereoscopic 3D of course)

Really great stuff. The only thing I have a quibble about is there doesn't seem to be much replay value. It was a great experience for me from beginning to end, but I'm not sure when I'd want to go back and play it again. Or *if* I'd even want to do it all over again.

Still, very fun little game. Glad I played it to completion.

Posted by 
 on: 03/19/12, 05:19:23
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