E3 2015 Hands-on Impressions: Mutant Mudds Super Challenge

Renegade Kid isn’t pulling punches with Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. The game’s title isn’t crying wolf, as it’s a retro chic 2D platformer that’s all about pushing players’ skills to their limits, much like its predecessor… Only, the original Mutant Mudds had some degree of mercy. Mutant Mudds Super Challenge has none whatsoever!

MMSC - Gameplay 1Seeing as I actually managed to completely beat the original Mutant Mudds on my 3DS recently, I was actually quite eager to see what kind of devious new obstacles that Renegade Kid could throw at me. After all, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge feels more like a mod or an expansion to the original game, rather than a true sequel. Its graphics are the same, its audio stylings are the same, and its gameplay doesn’t really have much in the way of new mechanics. Surely, I was already a master of this song and dance, right?

Oh, how wrong I was. You’d think I’d never played Mutant Mudds before, much less beaten it, as I found myself immediately struggling with the brutal new level designs in the E3 demo of Mutant Mudds Super Challenge! I can’t totally blame it on having to change platforms either, with the demo being for the Wii U version of the game, not the 3DS version. Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is set to officially release for both 3DS and Wii U very soon, before the end of the month, apparently, and it will even be cross-buy, scoring you both versions together with a single purchase of either. In fact, if you own the original Mutant Mudds on a Nintendo platform already, you’ll get another discount on top of the discount offered by the Nindies@Home program. That’s small consolation for me though, as Mutant Mudds Super Challenge humbled me all over again, and I’ll have to start from the bottom if I want to reclaim my crown as Mutant Mudds master.

The game’s E3 demo offered two sample stages, and a boss fight. Yes, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge has actual boss fights now. I suppose that’s one new mechanic. I’ll get to that though, believe me.MMSC - Gameplay 2

One of the stages offered claimed to be the very first stage of the game, which was immediately covered in spikes, and familiar Mutant Mudds enemies. Those tantalizing diamonds were also littered around the area as well. I compulsively scooped them up as I desperately ducked, lept and dashed around instant death spikes and treacherous enemies. Three hits before you die doesn’t seem like enough, but that’s only because Mutant Mudds Super Challenge makes you work for that precious victory. It has a far more severe backhand than the original for your failures as well, counting each death as you fail time, and time, and time again. The knowledge that this demo was a mere appetizer for the final release only made each defeat sting all the more.

After finally managing to crawl my way to the end of the first stage, I was shot forward to stage 3-1, which threw in deadly poisonous pits, complete with toxic bubbles that force you to time jumps perfectly between moving platforms. More instant death spikes, devious enemies and the game’s trademark leaping between background and foreground planes were littered about as well. Even more so than the original, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge almost feels more like a punishing puzzle game than a simple platformer, demanding that your movements and attacks are perfect. It’s a game that demands to be played like surgery, punishing even slight mis-steps with death in most cases.

The only added measure of mercy in contrast to the original in fact is that Mutant Mudds Super Challenge now features checkpoints, which prevents you from having to restart an entire stage from the beginning this time. That’s small comfort though, as these checkpoints only showed up once per stage in the demo, and didn’t help too much, given how brutal the game’s difficulty is. Most players would be lucky to even reach the checkpoint sign in any short order in some stages!

MMSC - Gameplay 3Even as I finished the two sample stages, I was pitted in a boss fight against a large ghost enemy. The ghost couldn’t be damaged by Max’s normal water gun shots, so players have to leap into the background, where they’re given a limited number of specialty shots. They then have to make it through a gauntlet of enemies, while having at least one special bullet left to use on the ghost, before they can shoot its vulnerable heart to damage it. With every hit, the background layout changes, and the enemies become tougher to avoid. It’s actually a pretty clever challenge, albeit just as punishing as anything else in the demo. Fortunately, I managed to reach the end of the two stages and beat the boss, thus completing the demo in full, and retaining at least some of my dignity. I did however suffer a lot of deaths and a bruised ego in the process!

There’s not much to say about how the demo looks and performs, because, if you’ve already played Mutant Mudds on any of its many platforms, particularly Wii U, you’ll know what to expect with Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. Again, I can’t comment on the 3DS version, since only the Wii U version was a featured demo, but I imagine that the 3DS version is much the same as its predecessor in terms of looks and feel. Same is true of this Wii U build of Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. It feels more or less identical in terms of style and flavour as the Wii U version of the original Mutant Mudds. The demo also boasted off-TV play, again having the main television image broadcast with perfect parity on the Wii U Gamepad Screen as I played.

I was also able to swap between any potential variety of control method as well, with the demo supporting not only the default Wii U Gamepad Controls, but also the use of a Wii U Pro Controller, a sideways Wii Remote, a Wii Remote/Nunchuk configuration, and a Wii Classic Controller. You’ll definitely have options with Mutant Mudds Super Challenge! The Wii U Gamepad controls are acceptable, though I wouldn’t say they’re ideal for a game of this nature. The Wii U Pro Controller definitely feels most comfortable and reliable of the lot, though the Wii Classic Controller is also great, thanks to its large and accessible control pad variation. The sideways Wii Remote is a solid way to play the game too, with its NES-style simplicity, though plugging in a Nunchuk feels non-sensical and very unreliable. It feels like that configuration is only there so that Renegade Kid can throw in every option, and given the outrageous difficulty, playing with a Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo just seems foolish, since the Nunchuk’s control stick is slippery and unhelpful in a game of this nature.MMSC - Gameplay 4

After coming away from this demo, it’s pretty evident that Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is marketing itself to die-hard gaming masochists only. This is a game for people who enjoy games that actively punish and humiliate them. There’s fun to be had if you avidly enjoyed the first game, though on the flip side, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge suffers from slightly limited appeal. The demo is well-designed, and comes with a great sense of accomplishment if you do overcome its obstacles, though the game is probably not going to be worth the effort to most Nintendo gamers today.

I suppose then that just makes the worthy all the more special, and maybe Renegade Kid feels the same. One thing’s for sure though; The Mudds aren’t screwing around anymore!