Mutant Mudds Deluxe / Mutant Mudds

A game by Renegade Kid for PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, 3DS, and iOS, originally released in 2012, with the Deluxe version released in 2013.
Mutant Mudds Deluxe is an enhanced version of Mutant Mudds. The game is a fairly straightforward platformer meant to harken back to the days of 8- and 16-bit gaming, featuring bright colors, low resolution, and cartoony enemy designs. You take on the role of Max, a video game loving kid – with a video game loving grannie – who finds his world turned upside-down when a meteor crashes down, bringing with it an army of Mutant Mudds.

Fortunately, Max has just the thing to deal with this muddy menace, a water gun that he can use to splatter his foes into a dirty brown spray. His weapon of choice has a limited range but unlimited ammo, allowing him to squirt his enemies into oblivion, as long as said enemies are to his left or right, as there is no way to target enemies above, below, or at an angle.

In addition, Max has a limited-use jetpack (also water powered) that lets him hover for a short time and cross small gaps, with a meter in the lower left showing how much energy remains. The jetpack recharges instantly when Max touches the ground, allowing him to jump and hover as much as needed. The player can also cancel the jetpack while in midair, but cannot re-engage it again until he returns to solid ground. In early levels, a basic understanding of the jetpack mechanics will suffice, but later levels and challenge areas require mastery of its use.

Beyond this, Max needs to rely on his 1.5x jump, the ability to duck, and the ability to jump down through 1-way platforms as he hunts through each level in search of 100 gems and the large gem that marks the level’s exit.

Max’s movement speed is quite slow. In addition, he can only have one water-bullet onscreen at a time, and he cannot shoot while walking, although he does have the required dexterity to operate his jetpack and shoot at the same time, as well as jump and shoot. This gives the game a very deliberate pace overall. Fortunately, backtracking is rarely required to complete level objectives, but the slow pace can become cumbersome when failing and repeating portions of a level.

Each level has a single checkpoint (a new addition in the Deluxe version of the game) somewhere around the level’s midpoint, and players have infinite lives. However, Max can only can only take three hits before being killed, and certain obstacles, such as spikes, electricity, and bottomless pits will kill him instantly. Most of the levels can be completed fairly easily, but later levels offer tougher challenges and more chances for instant death.

The main element that sets Mutant Mudds apart from other platformers is its multi-layered environment design. Each level has a foreground, midground, and background layer, and Max is able to jump between these planes via special platforms, much in the same way Wario does in his Virtual Boy installment of Wario Land. The main difference here is that Wario only had two planes to travel between, and was generally free to move back and forth from one to the other, whereas most of Max’s transitions are 1-way. There are even some apparent nods to Wario’s adventure, including spike traps that swing back and forth between the midground and background layers. This Wario Land connection is further acknowledged by the presence of red-colored challenge areas that look very similar to a Virtual Boy screen (more on these in a bit).

Transitioning between different planes adds an additional layer of complexity to the overall experience, although it occasionally adds confusion as well. With the original 3DS version of the game, the stereoscopic view made it easier to tell where Max was in relation to foreground and background elements. In the other versions, however, a blur effect is applied to inactive planes, making it somewhat more difficult to distinguish the layers from one another, and potentially causing the player to mistakenly hop to a platform that isn’t on his layer, or accidentally run into an enemy.

Stylistically, this change in layers also represents a change in the game’s apparent resolution, as jumping from the midground to the foreground offers the same sort of experience as playing an NES game, and then playing its port on the Game Boy with a lower resolution and tighter view of the action. Jumping into the background layer is on par with experiencing latter-day high resolution 2D games.

Players must be mindful of gems that are tucked away on other layers, occasionally using the perspective shift to spot gems that would otherwise be hidden. In addition, each level has a hidden door that takes the player to “G-Land” or “V-Land”, with G-Land representing grayscale Game Boy themed areas, and V-Land representing redscale Virtual Boy themed areas.

These lands act as optional challenge areas that require the player to use more advanced techniques to complete. For instance, the player may need to drop down and engage the jetpack with perfect timing, or perform a complex sequence where he must jump, hover, shoot an enemy off of a platform, and then safely land in that spot. These areas tend to be packed with more spikes and disappearing platforms than regular levels, giving the player more chances for instant death. The Deluxe version of the game adds checkpoints to these areas as well, and each challenge area has a large gem at the end, which allows you to access more levels from the hub.

If you’re planning to collect all of the gems that the game has to offer, you’ll need to play through each level more than once. The main area in each level is where you can collect 100 gems and the end-level large gem, and each challenge area has a single large gem which adds to your total and acts as the level exit. Collecting gems allows you to unlock upgrades in Grannie’s house, which may be accessed via a door in the hub world. Furthermore, most G-Land and V-Land doors require the use of a specific upgrade to reach them, making most of them inaccessible on your first run.

Rather than purchasing upgrades, each of these items is unlocked as you reach the gem threshold listed beneath them, but you can only carry one powerup at a time, and there are three types of powerup available. The first is a better gun, which allows you to have two bullets onscreen at a time, effectively doubling your damage output, and it also has a slightly longer range, allowing you to pick off projectile-tossing enemies from a safe distance. The second powerup doubles the capacity of your jetpack, allowing you to spend more time in the air and cross gaps more easily. The last powerup is a vertical launch, used to send yourself flying straight up in the air. This can help you move more quickly through vertically-oriented environments, but is primarily used to access out-of-the-way G-Land and V-Land doors.

If you do manage to grab all of the gems in each level and each challenge area (thus completing the main game), you unlock another character who is able to equip all three powerups at a time. Only with this power can you access the Deluxe-exclusive CGA-Land levels, which are themed to old-style PC games. And yes, this means you’ll need to re-enter levels that you’ve played at least twice before to hunt down the door and complete the challenge.

Doors open on the hub based on the number of large gems you have collected, and these opened doors may be accessed in any order. Each set of four doors represents a specific theme, including the starting pastoral area, ice caves with slippery floors, a lava temple, and a sky-themed area. A final set of four doors sits on a foreground layer, and these doors may only be accessed by collecting all 100 gems in each of the themed areas. This final set of doors includes much more difficult platforming challenges and requires regular use of advanced techniques.

For those looking for even more challenges, each level has a remixed “ghost” version, which may be accessed via a mirror in the hub. These levels were new additions with the Deluxe version of the game, but were later added to the original 3DS version via a free patch. Ghost levels are essentially remixed versions of the original 20 levels, only now the enemies are represented by ghosts that are not impacted by your regular weapon. Instead, you can find a limited ammo weapon in each level that lets you temporarily incapacitate a ghost so you can make it past. These levels have a bit more strategy as enemies are generally meant to be avoided, and players must be aware of their remaining ammunition.

While the overall game is very colorful, most of your enemies come in either brown (mud) or gray (stone) varieties. Your main enemy, the Mutant Mudds, come in a handful of shapes and sizes, most of which simply sit still or patrol back and forth, but some are a bit more challenging. For instance, there is an armored Mudd that can only be attacked from behind, and it carries a sword with a great range, leading to situations where you may need to chase it down its path of travel, shooting it from behind, only to find yourself fleeing if it turns around before you can kill it.

Another disruptive foe is a flying pig-like Mudd that can drop bombs. These bombs cannot hurt you as they fall – which is fortunate since these enemies are often found flying over bottomless pits – but they will explode after a few seconds once they hit the ground. Stone enemies include huge stones with expressive faces that jump from the background layer to the midground in a very Thwomp-like manner, and there are also stone hammers which appear in rows of three or more, and these fall over into your plane to cause damage.

Mutant Mudds Deluxe is an enhanced version of the original Mutant Mudds, developed by Renegade Kid. The game was originally conceived as a 3D third-person shooter, but the design did not attract the attention of publishers, so it was reimagined as a traditional 2D platformer. The 2D version was first shown at E3 in 2011 and released in 2012, with the Deluxe version released in 2013.

Renegade Kid was founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove. Jools is the creative director for the studio and worked previously in the industry on such titles as Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and The Red Star. Gregg is the studio’s art director, and has worked on such titles as Stubbs the Zombie and Vexx. The pair have developed a number of games under the Renegade Kid label, mostly for the Nintendo DS and 3DS handhelds, which include Moon and the Dementium series.

Following the success of Mutant Mudds Deluxe, the developer returned to the 2D format – taking a pause from their development of Treasurenauts – to deliver Xeodrifter, a short metroidvania title released in 2014. The game features a squat astronaut on a ship whose warp core has been damaged, leaving him stranded. Fortunately, he is in close proximity to four planets, each of which must be explored in order to find environmental navigation upgrades, allowing him to backtrack to access new areas, per genre standards.

The player is free to move between planets at will, but progress on each is blocked until the necessary upgrades are received. These include the ability to transform into a submarine to move underwater; the ability to run quickly and pass over lava, similar to the Speed Booster in Super Metroid; and the ability to swap between foreground and background layers, as was the case in Mutant Mudds.