Review: Mutant Mudds Deluxe (Wii U eShop)

Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a celebration of tried-and-true retro game design.  Renegade Kid has given those of us fortunate enough to have been born with an NES controller in hand an experience crafted around what made those experiences so memorable.  The story begins with young Max and his Granny sitting around playing video games, when a sudden meteor crash brings a variety of mud monsters to Earth.  Taking cues from the likes of Mega Man and Mario, Mutant Mudds Deluxe brings solid platforming, a beautiful "12-bit" retro aesthetic, and a memorable soundtrack together to deliver a wonderful sense of deja vu to older gamers pining for these experiences.

But what about the newer or casual crowds?  Well, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is devoid of ham-fisted, lengthy tutorials that interrupt gameplay, and the difficulty spikes considerably after the initial set of levels.  For some, this may serve as a deterrent, but I would argue that the challenge presented is more of an incentive to continue playing, as there is a beautiful simplicity to Mutant Mudds Deluxe that makes it so accessible and rewarding.  Max is able to jump, shoot, and hover around using the water pack on his back that he's armed himself with to eradicate the titular villains.  For those that have trouble wrapping their heads around the complexities of modern video game controllers, this is a blessing.  Especially given the fact that Renegade Kid has included support for just about every controller input option available to Wii U.  The Wii U game pad functionality only provides off-screen play, but given the game's simple nature, this isn't necessarily a detriment to the overall package.  A new inclusion to the deluxe version that adds to the accessibility are checkpoints placed halfway through each of the stages.  If you die during a stage, you'll respawn at the checkpoint, rather than from the beginning as in earlier versions of the game.  However, this feature can be disabled for fans seeking the more "traditional" means of enjoying Mutant Mudds.

Speaking of controls, it's safe to say that Mutant Mudds Deluxe handles itself very well.  While Max moves a bit slower than his 8-bit inspirations, his actions are very deliberate in turn.  Hovering and changing jump trajectories feels very fluid, and if you find yourself missing a platform, it's because you inadequately executed the jump, not because of inept level design.  There's a definite amount of strategy  and recognition involved in traversing the levels found in Mutant Mudds Deluxe, harkening back to a time in which trial and error were instrumental in game progression.

Visually, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a sight to behold.  Impressive sprite work coupled with vibrant, colorful levels serve as total eye candy, and the fact that everything is now presented in high definition only makes the experience all the more alluring.  A widescreen aspect ratio allows players to view more of each level at any given time, elevating the scope of the game entirely.  The absence of the stereoscopic 3D gameplay of the 3DS iteration are made up for with an adept use of shifting perspectives given Max's current location in a level, whether he be in the foreground, background, and so forth.

Immediate changes found in this deluxe version of the game include a selection of remixed "ghost levels" that make avoidance a priority over action.  Max can attack the ghosts lurking within the new levels a certain amount of times through a new weapon upgrade, but the result only offers a temporary reprieve, as the spectral additions will respawn shortly thereafter.  These levels are intended for experienced players wishing to test their skills, while more casual fans will find easy frustration.  Also included in the package are the additional levels that were provided to the 3DS version through a free update after its initial release.  In total, there are now 80 levels present, giving the title a fair amount of variety through its several hour lifespan.

And unfortunately, this is where Mutant Mudds Deluxe stumbles a bit.  A game that was originally conceived as a portable experience does not provide the same amount of enjoyment through longer gameplay sessions associated with console play.  With Max's actions being limited to jumping, hovering, and shooting, the gameplay can feel a bit tedious, and the appeal begins to wear a bit thin in lengthy play sessions.  There are also only three upgrades that Max can access after collecting a certain number of gold diamonds throughout each stage.  You are only able to equip one of these upgrades at a time however, which only marginally detracts from the tedium.

In conclusion, Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a retro-inspired marvel that every Wii U owner should make room on their hard drive for.  It's a charming, absolutely beautiful game that houses some of the most competent platforming in years.  It's just a shame that it's a game best played in short bursts so that it doesn't wear out its welcome.  + Bryan King

9/10 - Mutant Mudds Deluxe is easily the best version of the game to date, with new content and options that will thrill fans of the original outing, as well as making it more accepting of newer, less-experienced players.

Review copy provided by Renegade Kid

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