The Mutant Mudds series has seen its fair share of love from critics and players alike over the last few years; the wonderful Mutant Mudds won us all over when it originally released on 3DS (and then again in a deluxe version for Wii U), and then Mutant Mudds Super Challenge came along, taking everything we already knew and loved and turning every aspect up to eleven. Now we have Mutant Mudds Collection on Switch – a package which includes both of these games in their entirety and throws in a brand new puzzle game for good measure. Lovely stuff!
From the main menu you’ll have the option to jump into any of the two previously released titles as you see fit; there are online leaderboards for each game and you can have up to three save files on them, too. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Mutant Mudds games are retro-inspired platformers that are essentially moulded around a very simple set of controls and rules. You work your way through a number of levels with only a hover jump, three lives and a water gun to see you through, jumping back and forth between sections at different levels of depth from the screen.
The general layout of each level is fairly similar; with a limited set of actions you’ll never be left wondering what to do and even the enemy types don’t vary all that much. Despite this, things get fiendishly tricky rather quickly and reaching the end of each level with all 100 golden diamonds in your possession can be a huge challenge. The difficulty comes in the precision that you must achieve and the need to master your hover jump and water gun skills to absolute perfection.
The first game, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, is made up of an initial twenty levels – each containing hidden exits that make you play through harder sections to reach a second end-goal – as well as a kind of alternate universe which sees you play through much harder versions of the original twenty levels. The game starts with a tutorial to help you to learn the basics (you’ll definitely want to start with this game if you’ve never played any entries to the series before), and then you’re away – running and gunning your way through various muddy monsters.
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a completely different beast entirely; the basic idea, controls, look, and feel are identical to the first game in many ways, but the overall difficulty is increased to a rather staggering degree. This game also introduces boss fights (which add a nice - but challenging - change to the usual gameplay), more collectables to find in each level, and twenty unlockable characters for you to find within the game’s courses. We should point out that we’re not exaggerating the difficulty level here in any way; the first game was already tough in its later stages, but Super Challenge is really designed for the hardcore platforming fans out there – you should expect to die a lot.
There is also a third option to select on the main menu: Mudd Blocks. This is a puzzle game that has been newly released for this collection and features several ways to play. The basic idea is to create chains of coloured blocks that will all explode and clear from the screen when a bomb is thrown down towards them and, if you love your old school-styled vertical monitor displays, there is also support for a TATE mode layout. There is an ‘endless mode’, where you simply aim for a high score, two-player versus and co-op offerings which see the game be played in split-screen, and several different other ways to play which are easily the best of the bunch.
‘Rescue’ has you trying to break someone out of a cage in what turns out to be a rather stressful back and forth of making sure to damage the cage when possible, but also keeping the surrounding blocks safe from reaching the top of the screen and ending the game. Another of our favourites, ‘Numbers’, sees you having to blow up particular blocks in a set order – the moment you destroy a block that isn’t next numerically, you lose. If you already own both of the main games Mudd Blocks might not be quite enough to warrant another purchase to those inclined not to double / triple dip, and we would say that more detailed in-game instructions showing how the game actually works wouldn’t go amiss. It is, however, a very welcome addition that makes this collection just that little bit more special.
The overall aesthetic of this package is as wonderful as the games have always been; the retro feel has been captured perfectly with bright, vibrant, sprite-based visuals and a cracking chiptune soundtrack. The game feels particularly good in handheld mode, although it does also work absolutely fine on the TV; it’s just a shame that the 3D display features can’t be realised on Switch. It is evidently clear that the levels were made for the 3DS – the changes in depth worked wonders with the stereoscopic display of that console – but, of course, this just isn’t possible on Switch.
In a way, Mutant Mudds shouldn’t be as great as it is. The levels are arguably quite repetitive (particularly in the first game), and the lack of new enemy types or changes in the actions that you must perform is something that we’d usually consider for criticism. However, everything about how this game plays is marvellous; the tightness of your character’s controls and the satisfaction you feel from jumping around each level give it that quality it needs to be considered a truly great platformer. The games are super tough, and many players will struggle to see them through to 100% completion, but they are pure, addictive fun.
Mutant Mudds Collection gives Nintendo Switch owners the chance to own two fantastic platforming games in one handy, portable package, as well as a nice extra in the new puzzle game, Mudd Blocks. The difficulty of these games may well put a reasonable amount of players off - Mutant Mudds Super Challenge in particular is one nasty fiend – but the overall quality of the two original titles places this collection amongst the best within its genre that the eShop can offer. If you love platformers, and you don’t mind a hefty challenge, do yourself a favour and buy this game.