When one hears the word “bully,” the archetypal image that usually comes to mind is that of a hulking brute. A dimwitted, slack-jawed, pit-stained-t-shirt-wearing oaf that couldn’t tell what a rhombus is, let alone be able to spell it. Not often do you hear of the nerdy kid with glasses being the jerk in the bunch. But I tell you this – I got my ass kicked by this bespectacled geek more times than I would by any bully. And these were brutal beatings, causing me great pain, uncompromising fury, and the occasional tear. Cruelly mocking me with every blow. Unrelenting. But you know what? I was totally cool with it.
Platforms: 3DS (Version Played), Wii U (Version Played)
Publisher: Renegade Kid
Developer: Renegade Kid
Genre: Old-School Platforming
Release Date: March 17, 2016
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is the sequel to the original Mutant Mudds released for consoles and PC back in 2012. In the sequel, Max (the aforementioned nerd) continues his journey to rid the world of the sludge-like alien creatures from the first title. He locates the fallen meteorite that spawned the aliens and parachutes into the jungle to take the fight to them (side note: how a kid is able to skydive into the middle of the rainforest to take on an army of multidimensional muck monsters is beyond me – but hey, if Commander Keen can do it, so can Max).
Much like its predecessor, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a retro-inspired side-scroller, rife with enemies and environmental hazards. Precision platforming is the name of the game here, as even the slightest misstep often results in instant death. Max has his trusty water blaster, which he uses to lay waste to the Mudds, and his jetpack, which allows him to hover for a short period of time. Max can also employ one of the three powerups he earned in the first game: the Power Blaster, Super Jump, and Extended Hover Pack. The powerups are available from the start, but you can only choose one at a time.
Each of the game’s five worlds has four levels, and within each is one secret level, making for a total of forty levels. The worlds are all your typical side-scrolling game fare: jungle, ice, cloud, and desert. Each world has its own boss, and defeating them requires quick thinking and even quicker thumbs. The only way to unlock the boss level, however, is to collect all the medals in that respective world’s levels and secret levels. The fifth area, an alien-based world reminiscent of Renegade Kid’s other awesome title Xeodrifter, is only available once you beat the bosses. So to fully beat the game you have to collect pretty much everything.
I say “pretty much” because Mutant Mudds Super Challenge boasts a ton of secret characters – 20, in fact – that are very difficult to find (they are not required to beat the game). Each secret character is only available in a level’s secret level, and the doors to them are hidden behind false walls. There are no visual or audio clues as to where you go to find them. Sometimes they’re hidden right in front of you, and other times you need to take a leap of faith in order to access them. Some secret levels are only accessible by using a specific powerup, so keep an eye out when you traverse those levels to see what you’ll need to get there. But once you do rescue the character and beat the level, you unlock him or her as a playable character (protip: try shooting at the walls. If your water bullet goes through one, it’s a fake). Searching for these hidden characters is as fun as it is rewarding, and gamers everywhere should be able to easily recognize several of them as popular indie game characters. It was so cool to go into a secret room and be pleasantly surprised to find… well, I won’t spoil all the cool characters waiting to be rescued. But it’s a nice touch that not only adds to the replay factor, but is also a real treat for indie game fans.
The graphics in Mutant Mudds Super Challenge are not a real step up from the first game, but that’s not a big deal. The game is designed to recreate the NES-era look, so the lack of a real graphical upgrade is completely understandable. There are some subtle additions to the animation, and everything looks like it moves a lot smoother. Also, props to Renegade Kid for adding my favorite 2D game feature: idle animations! Yes, just like many games from the 80s, Max and every secret character in Super Challenge has their own idle animation, and I love them.
In addition to the secret characters, each level in Mutant Mudds Super Challenge has a hidden CD (although if you compare it to Max, it looks more like a laserdisc). Collecting that hidden CD and beating the level unlocks a song in the music room, where you can listen to the memorable melodies to your heart’s content. The soundtrack features some of the songs from the original Mutant Mudds, and even some new ones, and they are all catchy chiptunes you’ll find yourself humming even after you put your 3DS or Wii U away. The sound effects are cartoony and crisp, and the audio cues especially help when you’re trying to shoot an off-screen enemy.
Controls work perfectly, so no issues there. There’s no blaming the game when you die – it’s all due to user error. And get ready to die a lot. The game is called Super Challenge because, well, it’s super challenging. Your platforming skills will definitely be put to the test with this game, and you’ll find yourself breathing a sigh of relief every time you hit a mid-level checkpoint or beat a level. I will admit, I did get very frustrated while playing the game, but I never once blamed the game itself. I perished because I didn’t time a jump perfectly or shoot that incoming Mudd fast enough. And when I beat the levels after dying in the same spot over and over, I felt so proud of myself. Like “print a picture of the ‘level completed’ screen and stick it on the fridge” proud. And as a general reminder of how much you suck at the game, Renegade Kid added a death counter – so you can see how many times you kicked the bucket. I can proudly say that I died 357 times before beating the game – and that’s with unlocking only half the secret characters.
If you’re wondering whether you should get the 3DS or Wii U version of Mutant Mudds, fear not – the game is cross-buy, so you can play it on both! Be advised that there is no cross-save feature, though. Having played both versions, I would say they both work well. The game looks great on the big screen as well as in 3D. The only issue I had was with the 3DS version. Since it had the smaller screen, the view of my surroundings was not as wide as it was with the Wii U version. I had jump into nothingness in order to reach a secret level on the 3DS, whereas on the Wii U it was easily visible. But other than that, everything was hunky-dory.
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a perfect example of what a sequel to a great game should be: retaining what made the original so fun, while adding just the right amount of new features to set it apart from the first title. The game offers a tremendous challenge to seasoned gamers, and has a charming aesthetic and soundtrack that will get the old nostalgia gland a-pumpin’. And at $9.99 for the game on both the Wii U and 3DS, the price point is right where it should be. If you’re a masochist like me and enjoy getting beaten up by a nerd with a water gun, then you’ll find plenty of enjoyment in Mutant Mudds Super Challenge.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Mutant Mudds Super Challenge was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.