Released early last year on the 3DS eShop, Renegade Kid’s retro platformer Mutant Mudds was well received by both critics and players. Available now on the Wii U, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is the definitive experience that fans of the series have been longing for. It’s a pure, addictive, old school platformer that will evoke a nostalgic feeling for gamers who grew up in the 8-bit era.
In cause you’re unfamiliar with Mutant Mudds, you assume the role of a young boy named Max. Armed with a water cannon and a jet pack, you will travel through five worlds based in areas like caves, mountains and outer space while you leap between platforms and travel into the fore, middle, and background planes to collect diamonds and rid the planet of the titular aliens. By incorporating the use of these planes, the game adds a refreshing layer of depth and exploration to the basic platforming gameplay of running from left to right to complete a level. Collecting diamonds allows you to purchase gun and jet pack upgrades which in turn can be used to locate hidden doors spewed through the game’s 40 main levels. These power-ups range from an extended hovering capability to a more powerful water cannon shot for increased range and effectiveness.
Exclusive to Deluxe are 20 “Ghost” levels. Within these remixed versions of levels you’ve completed, you’ll encounter spectral versions of Mudds as well as new enemies. These enemies are immune to your standard weapon, so you’ll need to track down a ghost gun power-up. Each ghost Mudd takes a few shots to go down, and with the power-up only equipping you with 10 rounds, being strategic with your shots is an absolute must. These mirrored worlds are drastically harder than the main levels they are based on, and they’ll demand a great deal of skill in order to be completed. Mutant Mudds Deluxe also includes the 20 “CGA-Land” bonus levels based around Grannie, Max’s Grandma, bringing the total levels in game to 80. Grannie’s levels are some of the toughest in the game, and you’ll need to employ all of your platformer mastery if you intend on getting through them.
Normally when titles are ported from the portable screen to the big screen they tend to lose some quality during the transition. Luckily, Max’s pixelated adventure plays, feels, and sounds just as good, if not better than its previous versions. From its bright “12-bit” style graphics, infectious chiptune soundtrack and timed playthrough, there’s a decidedly retro feel to its simplistic design, and it works in the game’s favor. You’ll even come across secret levels that pay homage to the Game Boy and Virtual Boy. This version also employs the best controls. Whether you’re using the Gamepad, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote, and even the Wii Classic Controller, Max’s controls are tight and responsive.
Though Renegade Kid included some clever filters and graphical effects to compensate for the loss of stereoscopic 3D, you’ll surly miss that added depth-of-field effect. Occasionally I found myself jumping for platforms that appeared to be within reach, only to realize that they were on a different plane. In an attempt to elevate this issues, this version incorporates two ways to view each level. The television screen displays a wider view of the playing field, while the GamePad displays a closer view of the action. When Max travels into the background, the GamePad makes it a little easier to distinguish objects due to the zoomed-in camera, while the pulled back view on your television allows you the opportunity to react quickly to oncoming dangers.
The game’s mechanics are simple, but the platforming challenges are masterfully crafted. You’re given four minutes to complete a level, and each is full of strategically placed platforms, pits full of fire and spikes and quite a variety of enemies to encounter. Beginning with simple ground moving Mudds, the game will eventually toss in large Mudds that shoot projectiles, flying foes that drop bombs from above and warriors armed with swords and shields. With a steady difficulty curve, I never felt as though the game was introducing me to anything I couldn’t overcome. Enemies and traps lay within plain view, so its easy to develop a strategy to overcome any situation. The game is fair, and if you take a moment to observe your surroundings, you’ll be able to clear any level effortlessly.
Although the game’s intense difficulty has its appeal, some may resent the significant trial and error process involved in completing some of the later stages. Thankfully the checkpoints that were introduced in the iOS version are included in Deluxe. This safety net is great for players whose platforming skills are not that advanced, but for an experience closer to the 3DS version, you can turn off the checkpoints from the main menu. But aside from fulfilling your inner masochist, there is no real reason to play it this way.
Growing up in the 80s, Mutant Mudds Deluxe replicates everything I’ve loved about the platformers from my childhood. Despite a degree of repetitiveness, the game’s vibrant, colorful sprites and contagious soundtrack makes this a very engrossing game to get into. If you’ve already played Mutant Mudds before, the new “Ghost levels” are worth checking out, but if this your first time experiencing Max’s crusade to save the world, than this is the version to own.