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[REVIEW] Mutant Mudds Deluxe (Wii U)

Posted on June 10, 2013 by (@NE_Austin) in Features, Reviews, Wii U eShop

Can this “12-bit” platformer still stack up now that it’s in HD?

System: Nintendo Wii U
Release Date: June 13th, 2013
Developer: Renegade Kid
Publisher: Renegade Kid

Author: Austin

There was something exceptionally captivating about Mutant Mudds when it released on 3DS back in January of 2012. I think, for me, the combination of slower-paced platforming and old school difficulty that Renegade Kid created scratched an itch that few games do, so naturally I was quite pleased upon hearing the announcement of an HD re-release for Max and his muddy rivals on Wii U.

It has been a long and arduous wait (the game was meant to hit Wii U much closer to launch after all), but I’ve finally got my hands on all 80 levels of Mutant Mudds Deluxe and I must report: It’s every bit as good as you’d think.

“Every bit as good as you think” can certainly be taken multiple ways depending on how you felt about the original title. In a general sense, the phrase means that Mudds wears its core on its sleeve, not shying away from the fact that it’s a platformer in the modern day, utilizing level-design tropes not often seen since some of the glorious SNES romps from developers like Nintendo and Rare.

That is to say the game is not an “environmental platformer”. It doesn’t bother you with physics-based puzzles, or expect you to play a level tens of times in order to get past memorization challenges or beat par times; what Mutant Mudds does is much simpler: It takes the design style of something like Super Mario Bros. 3 and manages to fit it comfortably– almost seamlessly– with the gunplay of Mega Man or Metroid. It is at once a conglomerate of many genres, and yet something that feels completely its own, which is perhaps the game’s greatest achievement.

Beyond the 3DS version, this new Wii U update brings a few things to the table that make it worth your money. Chiefly, you’ve got 20 new “ghost” levels within a mirror-world that take the patterns and themes of the original 20 levels and “remix” them to a noticeably higher difficulty. For those of you that played Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, these ghost stages are similar to the hyper levels in that game. Similar, but ultimately not quite the same.

In Hyper Drive Edition, WayForward took existing gameplay mechanics already present in the game and simply made them faster and more frequent, forcing you to jump on more platforms at higher speeds with greater precision. In Mutant Mudds Deluxe’s ghost levels, the designers opted to completely change one key gameplay element from the main game instead: Enemies can no longer be shot with the regular water cannon, instead requiring some sort of “ghost gun” to kill.

This is a simple and superfluous change on paper, but the method of execution is really the breadwinner here. Renegade Kid gave the ghost gun limited ammo (usually ten shots) and programmed ghosts to respawn right where they left off a few seconds after being destroyed. This creates an interesting (and completely new) rhythm to the gameplay, because you’re now forced to decide whether or not to shoot ghosts (which would waste precious ammo) and whether or not you’ll have time after shooting them to run past their place on the map before they respawn. It goes from being a game about platforming with some shooting, to a game about two or three subtle gameplay elements that players are asked to juggle simultaneously while platforming.

On top of that, this video-gaming balancing act doesn’t ever overwhelm you. It slows you down, makes you think, and occasionally kills you, but not once did I ever feel even remotely cheated when I died, because I knew what I had done wrong and I knew that it was my fault. Much like the main game, Renegade Kid managed to make these ghost levels– even those that don’t utilize this underused new gameplay mechanic– feel accessible and smooth without sacrificing an ounce of difficulty, because the game still remains so simple on that fundamental level.

Still, this isn’t a game for everyone. Those with an affinity for more modern-day platformers should stray far from Mudds, as it will likely feel too stoic and solid for their more cinematic tastes. This isn’t a game about “testing” you, but it is a game that will do so while you play, and if you prefer something more seamless (Sonic Colors or LittleBigPlanet for instance), you may find this particular game to be a bit on the frustrating side.

Beyond that, there are only two other complaints I can muster up about Deluxe (a reviewer’s sentiment I remember sharing while reviewing the original release on 3DS). The first is that audio levels are a little strange. Sound effects (the gunshot in particular) are full of bass-frequencies and a lot of “oomph”, while the background music sounds almost as though it were, ironically, playing out of a 3DS’ speakers. It’s a minor gripe that will only be shared by those with fuller sound-systems (HDTV-speaker users, worry not), but something I certainly noticed for the first few hours of my playtime.

The second issue is that, despite how positively gorgeous the game looks in HD, it’s very easy to miss the 3D effect on its handheld counterpart. There are only a handful of times (perhaps four) where I managed to die because I had trouble telling whether a wall was in the background or the foreground, but that the flawlessness with which the first game utilized its native system’s capabilities was simply so fantastic that not having it, for those that own the original, will feel strange.

That being said, anyone who’s buying this game for the first time on Wii U likely won’t notice a difference. This is more for pre-existing fans of the series.

The bottom line…?

Mutant Mudds Deluxe is very easy to recommend to anyone that hasn’t played the original on 3DS, and (although the case is slightly less black-and-white) I also wouldn’t hesitate to nudge those who already own the original into purchasing this upgrade for $10. Unique, wonderfully designed 2D platformers don’t grace us too often, and although Mudds may lack some of the more iconic qualities of games like Mega Man or Mario, it certainly holds its own against anything else out there today.

Buy this game if…

… you enjoy platforming games, especially those akin to Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man.

Don’t but this game if…

… you prefer your games to be either more cinematic or more streamlined, not providing too much difficulty along the way.

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