Mutant Mudds caught my attention with both its high review scores and 8-bit-esque design. Me being the sucker for good, old-fashioned platforming, I thought I’d give it a download. After all, if the ratings in the game’s description were legitimate, that many reviewers couldn’t be wrong.
Ha. Oh yes they could.
Mutant Mudds tells the story of a blonde-haired, jetpack-wearing, blaster-toting kid whose town gets invaded by aliens. Obviously, it’s all up to him to save the world from the extra-terrestrial menace, since, you know, the National Guard couldn’t really be bothered. The game plays like pretty much any platformer you’ve ever run through. Jump your way through linear levels, avoid enemies, collect coins, reach the end; you know the drill. In all honesty, there’s simply nothing notable about the game, and there’s certainly little good about it.
I could pick on the little things, sure, like the bland level design, lack of replayability, or the clichéd gameplay, but I’m not going to harp on any of that. The simple reason being: the biggest problem with the game is that it’s
I can’t nail down exactly why this is. Perhaps it’s because of the aforementioned problems. But, I’d say it’s because the actual act of platforming is sinfully slow.
Picture this: You are encased in concrete in a swimming pool filled with molasses, and the concrete block is glued to the pool bottom. That pretty much sums up the pace of the game. Now, I don’t have a problem with slowly-paced games that have strong narratives or something else to compensate, but a platformer is supposed to contain a little bit of something called excitement. Frankly, Mutant Mudds doesn’t have any. The jumping, killing monsters, and coin collecting feels, well, soulless (maybe because most of these are brazenly copied from other, better games). And the moments where I was impeded didn’t offer any stimulation or challenge, only annoyance.
With this fatal flaw in the game, the rest of the additions to the gameplay can’t do anything except hold the drowning app above water for a few minutes longer. I do have to mention a some of these peripheral mechanics, though, so here’s a synopsis of a few of them.
At points during each level, you can jump from the “middle” of the 2D space to either the forefront or background. I never felt that the movement from forefront to background in Mutant Mudds was that noticeable At times I had to make sure that the monsters were in the foreground, before making my next step, but never really affected the gameplay, since you were required to follow a certain path to reach the end of each level, which normally required some movement towards and away from the screen. In other words, I would classify Mutant Mudd as 2D (2.5D max) since it was still playing on a technically flat plane. There’s no need to elaborate any further on this mechanic other than to say it just makes the game boring in 2.5 dimensions.
The “gun” that our hero totes shoots a few feet in front of him, which replaces the need to jump on the enemies heads. This is nothing worth mentioning, and fails to be even mildly engaging.
The collectible aspect of the game offers zero motivation for the player to run through again. If you do have a desire to waste time with it, you have two options:
A: Collect 100 coins (called diamonds, for some reason) in each level. This is normally about as challenging as blowing your nose. The unfairly placed ones that require power-ups to get will have you wondering why you’re trying to collect them all.
B: Find and play through the “secret level(s)” in each stage. This merely adds another tedious layer to the game. Basically it offers extra boredom per level.
If you do, for some reason (concussion, probably), go for these collectables, you be “rewarded” with even more tedium and freakishly anticlimactic power-ups. The power-ups, by the way, really only serve to help you reach those “secret levels” I mentioned earlier, so if you think about it, the power-ups are just more bad levels in disguise.
When I finally closed the book on Mutant Mudds, I was happy to be finished with it. Not because I felt satisfied; simply because I was glad I didn’t have to boot it up ever again.
Trading good gameplay in favor of retro “charm”, Mutant Mudds is an unstimulating bludgeoning of your childhood’s platformers. Just play something else.