A number of development studios have become well-known and familiar names to eShop aficionados - Renegade Kid is certainly a studio that most 'Nindie' followers will know from their releases across 3DS and Wii U. Though the company has a previous track record in the DS retail scene, and has also extensively released key games across stores such as PSN and Steam on PC, it's on the eShop where its titles are played the most.
That's certainly the case with Mutant Mudds, a clever platformer that arrived in early 2012 when the 3DS eShop was still gaining steam; it became a notable hit on the store, with the frequent jump between layers suiting the autostereoscopic 3D display of the portable beautifully. Though it was updated to a 'Deluxe' status and released on other platforms, it's a title that very much feels like a 3DS experience.
Follow-up Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is, as the name suggests, a title that takes the foundation of that original game and cranks up the difficulty. We caught up with Renegade Kid co-founder Jools Watsham to talk about the upcoming 3DS and Wii U release, the enduring reputation and success of the original and the importance of a unified release between platforms and regions.
To start with the past, when Mutant Mudds first launched on 3DS in early 2012, did you envisage that it would have quite the impact it did on the eShop?
No, absolutely not. Mutant Mudds was a side project we just wanted to make while we worked on work-for-hire titles with various publishers. It was our first self-published title, and a very exciting event for us.
If you had to pick one key reason, what do you identify as the core reason that game took off as well as it did on the 3DS?
Well, I can't discount the fact that we released Mutant Mudds within the launch window of the eShop, but I think a key feature that really captured people's attention was seeing Max jump between the layers in 3D. It is such a simple concept, and without it I think the game would have still been received well, but the layer jumping really became Mutant Mudds signature.
It is such a simple concept, and without it I think the game would have still been received well, but the layer jumping really became Mutant Mudds signature.
Is that 3DS version still comfortably the best-selling of all the original's iterations across various platforms, can you give an update on that?
Yes, the 3DS version is still the best-selling version to date. It has performed OK on other platforms, but 3DS is still king.
Moving on to Super Challenge, when did work start on that and what was the overriding motivation to go that way rather than produce a direct sequel?
We started developing what was originally nicknamed Uber Mudds in late 2014. The original idea was to create something rather quickly, along the strict guidelines of what The Lost Levels is to the original Super Mario Bros., which reuses all artwork from the original game and focuses on just new levels at a higher difficulty. Needless to say, we ballooned the scope of Super Challenge out with bosses, all-new level art, secret characters, and much more.
For those still unfamiliar, what sort of content, features and gameplay focus can we expect in Super Challenge?
As the name suggests, this is not an introduction to the Muddy universe. Instead, it starts as if you just completed the original Mutant Mudds, and immediately jumped into a new adventure after having received intel on the whereabouts of the meteorite landing site - where the wretched Mutant Mudds are still spawning from.
You were part of the [email protected] E3 promotion last year; how vital was that in terms of some early promotion for the title?
It was an awesome opportunity for early promotion of the game, which I hope translates into more interest for the game. It is difficult to gauge exactly how it impacts things. I think it was an excellent program. Being able to experience a little piece of E3 in your home is wonderful.
Were you able to gain much feedback from fans off the back of that demo release?
We heard that players felt that the demo was challenging, so that was helpful feedback!
In the very crowded eShop market, it is very important to create special incentives for players to notice your game from the large library.
Are you at all concerned that the level of difficulty will put off some gamers, or are you happy with the balance you've found?
I am extremely happy with the final results of the game. It is hard. I feel that it compliments the original Mutant Mudds very well, providing a different experience and justifies the existence of both games. However, I am certainly concerned that the level of difficulty may turn some players off, because most games these days are rather soft on players. I am - however - very happy with the Super Challenge experience, and hope others will enjoy it too.
This entry arrives on both Wii U and 3DS together and supports cross-buy; was this particularly challenging logistically, and how important do you think promotions like cross-buy are in markets like the eShop?
Yes, we're very excited to be able to support this promotion. It was relatively simple to set up the cross-buy and loyalty discount - just some paperwork, really. In the very crowded eShop market, it is very important to create special incentives for players to notice your game from the large library. Supporting the Nintendo community with these pricing promotions helps get the game noticed, and helps the player's wallet. Everyone wins!
This release is also notable in terms of you releasing at the same time in North America and PAL territories. How important has the move to IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) ratings, for example, been to you as a small game developer / publisher?
I cannot overstate how important the IARC is. It was instrumental in enabling us to release the game in North America and PAL territories. I am very thankful and appreciative for the Nintendo eShop's involvement with the IARC.
Which version do you think people will play the most, even though they have both with one purchase? Is this series still 3DS-centric, or do you think more will jump into the HD version on Wii U?
I think we'll see a fairly even split between 3DS and Wii U players, but in the end I expect the 3DS will have a slightly larger audience due to hardware sales of the two platforms and the 3D support in Mutant Mudds Super Challenge still being a novel and nifty experience.
Can you provide an update on Mutant Mudds 2?
It is still something we plan on releasing some day. We'll have more news in the future.
Do you have a final message for our readers regarding Super Challenge or Renegade Kid's plans for 2016?
I sincerely hope Nintendo fans have fun playing Mutant Mudds Super Challenge on 3DS or Wii U. If they have half as much fun playing it as we did making it, they'll be happy.
We'd like to thank Jools Watsham for his time. Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is released on the Wii U and 3DS eShop on 17th March, with a purchase of either version including a download of the other version for free.