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REVIEW | “Mutant Mudds” Focuses On Great Gameplay

Posted on July 30, 2014 AT 03:43pm

Simplicity has been an underrated concept the last few years. It seems as though, the more complex a game, the better. While complexity, when balanced correctly, is certainly worthy of some high praise, there’s something to be said for brilliantly executed simplicity. Mutant Mudds Deluxe takes this idea of simplicity and builds a game around it that manages to ramp difficulty in a consistent and fun way.

PlayStation Plus has opened me up to several games I may not have otherwise given a chance. When Mutant Mudds Deluxe went free on the service last month, I remember having heard good things and decided to give it a try. From what I had seen, it looked like a very basic platformer with a retro-inspired art style. Frankly, that’s exactly what it was on the surface, but when you dive a bit deeper into the game, it’s a lot easier to understand what makes it so enjoyable.

Mutant Mudds Deluxe starts you off very simply: shoot the mutant mudds and collect the water sprites. The few moves you have at your disposal include jumping, shooting and hovering with your jetpack. That’s really all there is to it for a while, and as you unlock more levels the game gets steadily more difficult. After finishing a few levels, while collecting some golden diamonds along the way, you’ll unlock a new item from granny’s attic. The three items you get here are not necessarily giving you new moves, but enhancing a few of your currently existing ones. There’s one that makes you shoot farther, another that lets you hover longer and a final one that shoots you high in the air. You may only have one of these equipped at a time and after being spoiled by each in turn, I constantly found myself wishing I had a different one whenever I was in a difficult level.

The beauty of this game is, since the gameplay principles are so simple, they can take those few things and push the difficulty to the point where you really need to have mastered them to get through. Then, just when you think you’ve mastered it, they throw another curve ball at you and find a way to make you rethink how you play. This is excellently represented by the ghost levels you can play based on each stage you unlock. The twist here is that enemies are essentially invincible in this mode, so you need to find a different approach to making it through.

There are also doors in each of the levels that lead to a more difficult short stage that typically utilizes one of the various abilities. It does this by requiring the ability to reach the door, thus ensuring you have it equipped while playing. These levels test your mastery of each individual item and can be pretty tough. Once you’ve gotten everything else, Granny unlocks as an additional character and the fun really begins.

See as it was her attic to begin with, she can use all three of the special items at once. In each level, there is a door with “CGA-Land” written on it. The levels you find through these doors really test your abilities with everything you’ve learned thus far and make for an amazing moment of pride when you make it through. The game has been training you for these levels throughout the entire game and you’ve finally made it. It left me with a satisfied feeling that the lesson was learned and I triumphed. That feeling is called “fun” and it’s something that not every game, even some I would consider quite good, manage to nail quite as well as this one did.

The visuals are fine, but nothing worth noting as outstanding. The ability to move through three dimensions from background up to foreground is neat, but goes underutilized in a meaningful way. Music in the game was not bad, but not terribly memorable either as I could not hum anything from it at this moment. The fun in this game lies completely in the gameplay and I’m okay with that, because it nails it. If you happen to have downloaded this game from PS+, I highly recommend giving it a worthy shot. If not, consider picking it up for the 3DS or Vita as something you can play on your commute.

Score: 8.5 (out of ten)

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