Preview: Mutant Mudds

Muddin' makes you feel good

For those who don't know, Mutant Mudds began life as a 3D polygonal platformer called Maximillian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds that was to be released as a retail title on Nintendo DS. Sadly, the retail release and a pitched DSiWare rendition were never able to get off the ground, leaving developer Renegade Kid to wonder if it would ever be able to get the game developed in its current format.

Thankfully, it didn't give up on the project, instead deciding to move it over to the 3DS eShop and transform the game into a classic retro-styled 2D platformer. And while some may scoff at the game's rather simplistic look, after putting the game's 40 levels through their paces these past few weeks, we've found out that there's actually a lot more to this unique platforming romp than meets the eye.

Your goal in each level of Mutant Mudds is to navigate the host of hazards and enemies to reach the water sprite located strategically at the end of each level. To accomplish this you're helped by a H2O-powered jet pack to hover short distances, allowing you to safely manoeuvre around dangers and platforms. To help with those pesky enemies, you're armed to the teeth with your trusty water cannon, capable of taking down even the muddiest of Mudds.

The platforming and shooting alone make for a great adventure, but what makes Mutant Mudds so unique and tricky is the ability to warp into the various layers of the back and foregrounds using the warp pads. Not only will you have to keep an eye out for the water sprites and golden diamonds in the layer you're currently playing in, but you'll also need to keep an eye on the other layers as well. It's not just a feature inserted for graphical effect, as these 3D layers actually play a key role in the level designs themselves.

As effective as the basic skill set is for most situations, there will be times when you're going to need more flexibility and that's where grannie's attic comes into play. Grannie will sell you an upgraded power shot and extended hovering capabilities, but she's going to charge you an arm and a leg for it. Luckily, there are 100 golden diamonds carefully placed around each level that you can pick up, and if you're going to have any hope of accessing the final world — not to mention these rather effective power-ups — you'd better pick them up along the way.

As if all of these goodies weren't enough, each of the 20 regular levels in the game also contains a hidden door to a secret level. Some of these doors are quite easy to locate, whereas others will require a little searching and in some cases, a bit of luck, to find. And if you thought the regular levels were challenging, wait until you try these diabolical secret levels.

There's a lot to love for fans of retro platformers when it comes to the audio-visual side of Mutant Mudds. Not only are the colourful visuals very reminiscent of classic 16-bit titles like Earthbound and Paladin's Quest, but some of the hidden surprises offer up nice tributes to some of Nintendo's most famous game systems. Even the musical compositions sound like they're straight out of the 8-bit era and feature much of the same charm from that time period.

While there might not be a huge number of 3DS-specific eShop titles on the horizon, at least we know there are a handful of great games coming down the pike. Mutant Mudds is a fantastic ode to the era of classic 2D platformers and shows that good old-fashioned 2D platformers can still be every bit as relevant today as ever, especially when used in conjunction with the visual depth afforded the experience by the 3DS. If you haven't put Mutant Mudds on your radar yet, now might be a good time.

We'd like to thank Renegade Kid for sending us a preview build of Mutant Mudds.