Review: Mutant Mudds Deluxe

MutantMuddsDeluxe_1.jpg

Growing up without a console in my house meant that the only platforming I was exposed to as a younger gamer was either playing at a friend’s house on their NES or playing knockoff Mario games on my own PC. However, one of the few PC platformers that still stirs up fond memories is id’s Commander Keen series. I don’t have the same love for Mario or Sonic that many older gamers do, but give me something that throws back to Commander Keen and I’m ready to cozy up to nostalgia. Renegade Kid’s recent release of Mutant Mudds Deluxe on Vita and PS3 does just that. (Previous versions have also been made available for 3DS, iOS, PC, and Wii U.)

The story goes a little something like this: A random meteor strikes Earth and suddenly wakes up mud in mutant shapes, and a lone kid, Max, sets out to put an end to the muddy madness. To stop the mutant mud, Max must travel through levels, shooting the various types of mutants, collecting diamonds and avoiding any deadly obstacles, all the while keeping an eye on the ever-diminishing clock. At his disposal, Max has a jetpack, which allows him to jump-hover, and a water gun with an unlimited supply of liquid ammo.

Levels are designed with three layers of depth, but Max only occupies one plane at any given time. To switch between the background, middle and foreground, specific locations in the world allow Max to jump and teleport to one of the other sections of the map. Collecting diamonds allows Max to purchase upgrades to his arsenal (but only one upgrade can be used at a time). Harder stages are unlocked as a set number of levels are completed.

MutantMuddsDeluxe_2.jpg

The controls are precise and accurate and respond as any gamer would expect from a good platform title. Each level has a checkpoint midway through which allows a level to be retried from that point on if Max runs out of time or loses all three of his hearts. Progression in the world means the difficulty in the levels also increases, deviously so in many instances. Timing jumps perfectly while shooting mutants to ensure that the platform Max is heading toward is clear for landing is fun and incredibly tricky. Later levels further complicate matters by adding clouds that will blow Max from the middle ground to the foreground, where there is often nothing to actually land on other than spikes. The Mutant Mudds also get more aggressive and either have sword and shields to block Max’s attacks from the front (and attack when close enough), or drop massive bombs when flying overhead.

Once a level is completed in the normal world a ghost version of the level is unlocked which adds even more platforming fun. The ghost worlds are the exact same layout, but some parts of the levels may move in ways that they didn’t in the normal versions. Adding to the challenge are ghost versions of the Mutant Mudds which can’t be shot with the gun, but touching them causes Max to lose one of his hearts. Certain ghost levels have a limited use “ghost gun” which makes the ghosts disappear for a short period of time, but more often than not, I found this gun almost useless because the ghosts I needed to shoot moved faster than my timing accounted for and I would end up wasting the limited ammo.

Mutant Mudds is available on a wide range of platforms, but one of the “Deluxe” features that makes the PlayStation Network versions so attractive is, of course, cross buy, which only enhances the value proposition for PlayStation gamers. Cross save functionality between Vita and PS3 is also supported–or at least it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get my PS3 to download a save I’ve uploaded from my Vita. My PS3 attempts to download the save data, but an error interrupts the transfer every time. That’s a shame, but frankly I find the game best played on the Vita any way as the short levels provide for quick snack gaming on the go.

Easily one of the best parts of the whole experience, the music in Mutant Mudds is a modern mastery of chip tune mixing, and makes replaying certain levels feel like less of a drag because the tunes are so catchy and upbeat. The great music, harmoniously combined with the tight controls and challenging levels, makes for a perfect retro gaming adventure that fans of old school platformers should not miss.   

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Short levels are great for quick gaming on the go
+ Precise controls
+ Magical chip tune music
+ Deviously challenging levels

Cons:
– Cross save between Vita and PS3 doesn’t seem to be working

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on Vita and PS3, also available for 3DS, iOS, PC, and Wii U
Publisher: Renegade Kid
Developer: Renegade Kid
Release Date: 12/17/2013
Genre: 2D Platformer
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by developer

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.