In its first year, the Nintendo eShop has turned out some right corkers, from creative offerings such as Pullblox and Dillon’s Rolling Western to rejuvenated classics that pop out of their original 2D fixtures.
We’d be pushed to call it a success at this early stage but compared to the Wii and DSi’s attempts at digital downloads, things look far more promising for the 3D handheld.
So Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds is actually a fitting addition to the eShop – an original title that mixes new ideas with old platforming tropes and pixel junky presentation.
Borrowing elements from the platformer greats of yore, Mutant Mudds‘ levels are short stretches crammed full of death traps, well-placed enemies pacing their designated grounds, and jumps that would have Mario quaking in his brown boots.
Armed with a water pistol and a jetpack activated by hitting the jump button while in mid-air, perilous hero Max is capable of manoeuvres his forbearers could have only dreamt of.
You’ll use both to pick off goomba-like Mudds that crawl along the floor and others that float through the air. Even the colossal grinning stone Mudds that block your path share a striking resemblance to the faced stone Twomps.
Then there’s an added 3D twist. Rather than traversing along one lone path, levels will send Max hurting towards the foreground where his 12-bit details can be seen up close or fired into the background.
Its homage to the 16-bit generation means Mutant Mudds inherits much of the difficulty that has made recent games seem far more forgiving. Each level is locked into a four-minute timer and with no recovery items available and insta-kill spikes scattered everywhere, studying your approach becomes routine.
Mutant Mudds isn’t likely to earn any new converts then but veterans of the genre will be sent into a euphoric state of nostalgic bliss.
Renegade’s “12-bit” visuals are boldly old-school and the 3D effect helps indicate details in the fore and backgrounds. This style is lovingly married with the game’s chiptune soundtrack that sounds like it’s being pumped out of the speaker of a chunky old Game Boy.
Besting the game will open up G-Land and V-Land portals hidden in the existing levels, both decorated in the style of the Game Boy’s monochrome colours and the Virtual Boy’s red and black scheme respectively.
Mutant Mudds is so invested in its old-school aesthetic that it’s hard to recommend it to everybody. It’s a game to be appreciated by those who’ve fired shots from the barrel of Mega Man’s hand cannon. Those who prefer to see Mario bolting left to right rather than flipping around in all directions. For those few, it’ll be another curious £8.10 price tag well spent.