Way back in 2012 when the eShop was still in its earliest stages, Mutant Mudds was released to general critical acclaim. Indeed, it was one of the earlier original titles released for the eShop, and paved the way - in a sense - for what would go on to become a very prolific service. Now, four years later, does the follow-up live up to the standard set by its predecessor? The answer to that question is yes, absolutely; Mutant Mudds Super Challenge does everything the original did, throws in some new ideas, and ratchets up the difficulty another notch for good measure.
For those of you who weren't aware, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is not technically considered a sequel to its predecessor. Though it mostly seems to be a continuation of the original, it's more of a Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels to Mutant Mudd's Super Mario Bros. If this game were to be described in one word, it's hard. However, that's exactly what Renegade kid was going for, and it's something that fans of the original will no doubt appreciate.
Gameplay is mildly reminiscent of classic Mega Man games; you'll run, jump, and shoot your way through 45 levels of glorious punishment, all in an effort to rid the world of the Mutant Mudds once and for all. Max's waterpack works as the ultimate support tool, giving players a bit of leeway by allowing him to hover his way onto platforms, as well as giving him the firepower needed to fight baddies off. Though the moveset is relatively simplistic, it provides all the tools required for success, and it takes seconds to grow accustomed to.
Controls are as tight and responsive as ever, making the moment to moment action both satisfying and quick. Max isn't very floaty or slippery, and the blame of most mistakes will ultimately rest with an error made on the gamer's part, as opposed to shoddy physics or mechanics. It's a good thing, too, because the level designs are as punishing and precise as they've ever been.
Levels this time around are designed to test even the most skilled gamer, with more death traps, enemies, and bottomless pits than ever before. Moreover, obstacles in later stages are calculated to maximum jump and hover distances, effectively rendering the waterpack as a mandatory tool to make it through the most difficult challenges. Fortunately there are checkpoints placed partway through each level, meaning that the frequent deaths one suffers won't be punished by a complete loss of progress. All the same, this is a game that does not make its name on forgiving gameplay; the slightest mistake is usually rewarded with a swift death and a return to the beginning or last checkpoint.
For you completionists, there's plenty more to do than simply struggling towards the water sprite at the end of each stage. 100 collectable coins are scattered throughout each stage, some of which are hidden behind environmental objects, alongside a CD that contains a random track from either Mutant Mudds game. These CDs can then be listened to in a jukebox section in the main hub area. There are also twenty unlockable characters to be found, and while we won't spoil them here, it's certainly a treat to find them all.
G-Land and V-Land return from the original – representing nods to the Game Boy and Virtual Boy, respectively – and one of these hidden stages can be found within each stage behind an obstacle that requires one of the three power-ups to get past. The gap in difficulty between these bonus stages and the normal stages isn't nearly as pronounced as it was in the first Mutant Mudds, but they nonetheless still provide a challenging alternative to the standard fare, in addition to effectively doubling the level count.
By popular demand, boss fights were implemented this time around, and they provide a nice break from the typical run 'n' gun gameplay of the other levels. These are unlocked only after clearing all bonus and normal stages in a region, but the wait is well worth it. The standard Nintendo rule of three hits to death applies here, but the boss designs are varied and interesting.
In terms of presentation, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge absolutely nails the 'retro' style that's so often used by indies nowadays. Though everything is drawn with '12-Bit' sprites, the bright colours really pop off of the screen and provide plenty of lovely eye candy. The chiptune soundtrack is just as good, featuring both original tracks and remixes of tracks from the original. For the most part it's upbeat and catchy stuff, and you may find a few of them getting stuck in your head.
All told, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a worthy sequel to its popular predecessor; it's everything fans loved about the original and more. That being said, describing this game as easy could not be any more inaccurate. If you struggled with the original game, or aren't very good at platformers to begin with, you will probably find very little to enjoy in this game. We give Mutant Mudds Super Challenge a very strong recommendation – it's an incredibly well designed and challenging game that stands as one of the best things to come out of Renegade Kid – but it is certainly not for everybody. This is for super players only.