It’s funny how time works. One day I read about the original Mutant Mudds in an issue of Nintendo Power, the year before the video game news publication ceased to exist. Now here I am, reviewing the sequel game, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. Those already familiar with the first game may find themselves at home with this offering. Albeit, once you look past the nostalgia there’s a reason why the subtitle of this review is as it is.
Aesthetically, Super Challenge is just like the original Mutant Mudds. If anything, this game is more like a standalone level pack expansion rather than a full-on sequel. That isn’t to say the retro art style has gone stale. The graphics are still as charmingly pixelated as they were before.
I never resist a game whose soundtrack embodies the instrumentals of the Nintendo Entertainment System! It helps that the music seems to aim to be like that of melodies from Konami games in particular. The only difference, of course, is that this game is arguably more laid back (the soundtrack reflects that)…not that it describes this game’s challenge!
For those that haven’t played Mutant Mudds before, this game is a tightly designed platform-shooter. The controls are quick and responsive. The levels make a strategic use of the mechanics the player is given. Players get to choose whatever level they wish, a la games such as Mega Man. Unlike the Blue Bomber, you can also choose between a few optional power-ups to make things a tad more comfortable.
Each level is a platforming gauntlet that appeals to the hardcore gaming crowd. If you don’t like to be challenged severely you may want to stop reading this since it’s guaranteed to not be for you. Mutant Mudds Super Challenge really wants you to learn the level patterns. It’s to the point where you’ll be forced to replay the levels multiple times to make any sort of progress in the game.
This is where I end up being conflicted in a critical sense. Aside from certain areas that feel like they’re meant to throw off the player, I’m not a fan of having to replay levels often just to be able to beat the game. It’s one thing to have a “bad” ending for not going the extra mile like Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot. To me it’s another frustration to go that extra mile just to have any ending to all. There are four different medal requirements for making progress per level: A normal run through, a run through the secret portion, and medals that require you to collect all of the coins in both portions!
As for the levels themselves, I do like them. Naturally, they can be unnerving as you watch your death counter gradually rise but this isn’t Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels we’re talking about. Unlike The Lost Levels, the level designs in this game are fair enough. There’s always the satisfaction of going “Oh…Now I understand what to do here!”.
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a solid entry in the series. It has enough challenge to keep players coming back and the shooting and platforming mechanics are fun. However, I feel that if the game could have been beaten by just clearing all the levels normally it would add more replay value. It wuld also keep players at ease not hashing to stress out for that extra mile. After all, the immense challenge seems to already be enough for gamers to stomach!
Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed this title a plenty. I have no doubt other people will have fun with it as well.