For some years now, independent developers have been paying homage to the glory days of 8 and 16-bit games, specifically 2D platformers. Some of these games aim to bring that aesthetic into a modern-day mentality while others work to recreate the challenging gameplay. Mutant Mudds falls into the latter category. While on paper it has everything a 16-bit platformer should, it’s missing that spark the makes you want to keep playing. Ultimately, your enjoyment of Mudds will rest solely on your nostalgia for the platformers of yore.
In Mutant Mudds you play as a young lad armed with nothing but a water gun and jetpack who is tasked with ridding the world of an alien invasion of mutant blobs of mud. The gameplay itself is quite simple: You jump, double jump and shoot. That’s it. But that’s not to say that the game is easy. On the contrary, the game is actually quite difficult despite its simplicity. Mudds exhibits a challenge that is reminiscent of older platformers. All of the enemies you will face travel on a set path and because of this anything can be overcome with willpower and timing memorization. The only problem is that games have moved on from this style of gameplay. Most of my time with Mudds was spent replaying entire levels (with no checkpoints) by rote. Though levels are relatively short, the moment to moment gameplay in each level is stiff and slow enough that it fails to remain entertaining after 20th playthrough.
Mutant Mudds does have at least one interesting feature. You can jump between the game’s foreground, midground and background. Sadly, this is little more than a graphical effect and does nothing to the gameplay. Still, it’s neat to see our intrepid water gun toting hero jump between planes. The game also employs a power-up system that gives you a better gun, a longer lasting jetpack or boots to make you jump higher. But even these power-up fail to meaningfully change the game. Their greatest uses are in granting you access to secret levels.
Graphically, Mutant Mudds looks like it has time traveled from the early 90’s. The art style is well done but it also seems like “just another game from an indie studio in the style of 16-bit games.” Which is a shame because the game looks fine, it also happens to look like every other 16-bit indie studio style of game.
At the end of the day, Mutant Mudds is a great tribute to the platformers many of us grew up with. The art style is well done and the difficulty is spot on – it literally feels like it could have been made 20 years ago. The only problem is that games have changed a great deal since then and Mutant Mudds is left feeling stale and boring. If you’re looking to play a platformer the feels harkens back to your childhood, then look no further than Mutant Mudds; otherwise you’re probably better off playing something else.