Published on March 26th, 2013 | by Darik Kirschman3
Mutant Mudds Deluxe is good, clean fun
As far as 3DS games go, Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds has been one of the best so far. Featuring a great use of depth and 3D, as well as a wonderfully retro art style and precision platforming, it showcased just how great the fledgling digital platform could be. It’s fitting then that Max is back, water cannon in hand, to deliver the definitive version for the Wii U.
For those unfortunate enough to have missed out on Mutant Mudds any of the several times it’s been released, the gist is this: evil space mutants that seem to resemble sentient mud blobs have arrived on Earth and are set to invade. Players step into the tennis shoes of a feisty kid named Max who decides that mud and water don’t mix and goes off in hopes of saving the world! It’s a basic plot that sacrifices depth to focus on gameplay mechanics. That’s where the game truly shines as Max hops, jumps, blasts and hovers his way through tricky platforming levels. At certain points, Max can even jump into the background or foreground and discover hidden areas. One such doorway in the PAX East demo was a Virtual Boy callback. My eyes were torn between continuing to love the pixelated art and hating the still-cringe-inducing-after-all-these-years black and red color scheme (love won out, by the way).
Mutant Mudds creator, Jools Watsham, was also on hand to speak a bit about the game’s new content — specifically the Ghost Levels that add a brand new twist on an already solid formula. Inspired by Super Mario World‘s Ghost Houses, these new areas were designed with a sense of silliness and mischievousness compared to the previous Mudds content. Max’s trusty water cannon is unable to damage ghosts, who dance around as if taunting Max and his ineffectual weapon, which means players must make use of a brand new ectoplasm-like power up to briefly dispatch enemies. Even on the show floor, surrounded by several thousands of gamers, the feeling of these Ghost Levels is suitably tense with a hint of whimsy, which is a testament to Renegade Kid’s ability to design and create.
For those wondering if these new areas are somehow “dumbed down” for the Wii U or remarkably different from the core game, worry not. The same tight platforming controls rule the day. I was never frustrated with the game when I mistimed a jump or accidentally flung myself into the path of a ghost — just at myself. Mutant Mudds Deluxe still retains all the challenge and charms of the original, the previously all new (now old-new) Granny Levels that came with Mutant Mudds‘ PC release as well as bonus content for patient Wii U owners — the aforementioned Ghost Levels in particular. Off-TV play is also an option, for those that want to replicate playing a previously handheld game on a home console with a handheld form factor.
Watsham also took the time to talk about the Nintendo eShop versus retail, saying that without a digital storefront, Mutant Mudds would have almost assuredly failed to reach an audience. According to him, Nintendo has been an absolute joy to work with, offering a level of freedom (especially on Wii U) that is almost comparable to Valve’s much-loved Steam platform. This seems to be the sentiment among many of the indie developers who’ve thrown their hat into the Wii U eShop ring, and it’s an encouraging trend.
Some might have questioned why Watsham and Renegade Kid were showing off an enhanced port of a year old game, but he told me the response at PAX East has been incredible and has resulted in a whole new audience getting their hands on the title. I myself happened to watch as a young boy played Mutant Mudds for the first time, with a huge smile on his face. Five minutes later, I was that player, grinning from ear to ear. There’s something inherently grand about a throwback platformer that Renegade Kid has so adeptly tapped into. Mutant Mudds Deluxe is yet another labor of love brimming with creativity and talent, and heading to the Wii U eShop soon. Get ready to clean up.