Last year, I used to do a feature called “Let’s Make A Sequel”. In each segment, I took a game that I enjoyed but felt didn\’t reach its full potential, and discussed how I would want the sequel to be done. My first game in this feature was the original Mutant Mudds, and it’s also one of my biggest regrets on this site. I liked the game, but felt it was lacking in several areas and I came off as overly negative in the article. Basically, I described the hypothetical sequel as being a totally different experience to that which made Mutant Mudds so special. As time went on, I learned to truly appreciate it, and it’s now one of my favorite titles on the 3DS. I was originally going to do a “Second Chance Gaming\” feature on it, but when I learned we had a review code for Mutant Mudds Deluxe I jumped at the chance to talk about it again.
Essentially, one of my favorite 3DS games is now one of my favorite Wii U games. With that said though, what is different this time around, and is it worth a double dip for those who purchased another version?
The core of Mutant Mudds remains untouched in the transition to the Wii U. Controlling Max is still incredibly easy and the controls are as tight as ever. Pressing “A” jumps, while a double press calls on his jetback for hovering; “X” shoots his water gun; the control stick or d-pad moves him, and that’s about it. This is one of the most simple games to understand, but even so, some of the later levels can be downright devious. I can\’t remember what was the most recent game to come out that made me curse due to the level design (as opposed to little kids online) but Mutant Mudds Deluxe really pushes my buttons some times – in a good way, mind you. It’s challenging enough to make me want to keep playing just so I can feel like i accomplished something.
At first glance, the levels seem very simple in design, but the true strength of the levels shine with different upgrades. You can select one of three optional upgrades, comprised of a better water gun, an upgraded jetpack for extended boost, and a super high jump ability. Playing as Max with his default setup shows off how well the developers understand how to make a tough platformer. Jumps can be stretched so far; disappearing and reappearing blocks are tricky to navigate; enemies can be placed on certain ledges that must be dealt with from afar; it’s all well designed and no two levels feel similar.
Once an upgrade is acquired though, the levels can be dealt with in different ways that show off how diverse a seemingly one way level can be. Enemies can be defeated from farther away with the new water gun, or they could be bypassed altogether thanks to the extended boost from the jetpack. Some levels make Max go from left to right to left again while eventually climbing upwards, but with the high-jump ability, it can all be skipped in one single motion. It’s the added layer of depth that really makes Mutant Mudds stand out and only adds to the replayability.
In addition to its retro aesthetic, Mutant Mudds intrigued many people with its three separate 2D planes. Throughout the course of the levels, there exist many jump pads that allow Max to jump into the back and foregrounds. While it may seem a bit gimmicky at first, it allows for more platforms and hazards to exist in essentially one spot. Since the Wii U isn\’t 3D compatible, it isn\’t as clear to see what is on each plane, but it’s still well done. In fact, there were only three instances in the game that felt cluttered and confusing since the foreground was blending into the background. To make up for the lack of stereoscopic 3D, whichever plane you\’re on will be in focus, while the other two are blurry to avoid them bleeding together.
On top of the normal levels, there are two additional secret levels in each stage. One is always based on the Game Boy (with a monochromatic colour scheme) or the Virutal Boy (with the red and black colour palette). These levels can be accessed with only one upgrade – for example by breaking through a wall with the better gun, or by finding an out-of-reach platform that requires use of the better jetpack. The second set of levels can only be reached with the unlockable character, since they can use all three upgrades at once. These levels are super challenging since they often require you to chain together the upgrades in one go. An example is hovering over a bed of spikes, then jumping high at the last moment to reach higher ground.
All 60 of these levels are on the 3DS though, so what exactly does the Wii U add? The answer is Ghost Levels. Once a traditional level is beaten, a remixed version is unlocked. Don\’t let the word “remixed” fool you though, as they are so radically different that they\’re practically unrecognizable. Of course, the word Ghost isn\’t just for decoration, as the levels feature ghostly versions of enemies that can\’t be killed, at least not with the water gun. Some levels have an item pickup that gives you 10 bullets to re-kill the ghosts, but only for three seconds. It’s this new dynamic that really alters how Mutant Mudds is played. Most DLC or add-ons I\’ve encountered only act as a continuation of the main game, but these new Ghost Levels really changed the core of Mutant Mudds. Avoiding the enemies outright instead of destroying them adds a new layer of challenge and depth to the package. Sometimes a platform may seem unpassable, but you\’ll have to jump to the background, then jump back into the foreground to get to the other side.
While the new levels are fun and challenging, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is still Mutant Mudds. If you didn\’t like the original, then this version won\’t change your mind. Max still moves rather slowly (although I didn\’t have much of a problem with that) and people who found it too simple for its own good will still be disappointed. One “criticism” that some people had – of the game being too hard – has been alleviated by the inclusion of a new optional checkpoint system. Halfway through each level is a checkpoint, which upon death will restart you there will full life and a restarted timer. If you want the full challenge though, I recommend doing the Ghost Levels with Max and no active checkpoints. You can\’t get much more old school than that.
When I first booted up Mutant Mudds Deluxe and selected level 1-1, I instantly smiled at the graphics. Sure, it looks the exact same as always, but the HD upgrade really stands out. The bright colours look gorgeous and the character models are crisp and clean. Along with the visuals, the soundtrack stands out as a strong point. The chiptunes are utterly fantastic and comprise probably my favorite OST in recent memory. Each zone has two unique themes and sometimes I would purposely stop playing just to listen to them.
The story is definitely not the focus here, but there is still a fun, quirky opening video. Max and his grandma are at home playing video games when an emergency broadcast shows an invading mud army from space. Video game logic dictates that Max is the only one who can stop it and then you\’re off to shooting and jumping. It gives me a “Zombies Ate My Neighbours” vibe and I can imagine this game being right at home in the 90’s.
The presentation may not have changed besides the HD visuals, but it didn\’t need to. It has a timeless feel to it that will always look and sound good. I wasn\’t sure how the game would fare without 3D, but thankfully the trade with HD is worth it and it comes down to personal taste.
So in the end, is the Deluxe version worth it? If you really enjoyed the first game and are curious about the Ghost Levels, then I say give it a go. Playing it on my Wii U was my fourth overall playthrough and it still remained a fun experience. The Ghost Levels add a new type of challenge and really change that way it’s played. If you never played any version of Mutant Mudds, then Deluxe is the definitive version with 80 levels and HD visuals, the trade off being 3D and portability. On the flip side though, if you disliked it the first time then Deluxe won\’t change your mind. Whatever you disliked from the original is still there, be it the slow movement or overly simple mechanics. For everyone else though, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a worthy purchase at only 10 dollars.
However, if one bad thing came from downloading Deluxe, it’s that the wait for Mutant Mudds 2 just got that much harder. Good going Renegade Kid.