Mutant Mudds is finally here more than five months after it was released in the US but the question isn't 'has it been worth the wait' but 'is it worth the money'? Yes, we're talking about price tags once again as although Mutant Mudds isn't the most expensive eShop game yet - that honour goes to the excellent Dillon's Rolling Western - it will set you back a hefty £8.10.
This immediately makes you question its value in a way that you didn't with the mighty Pullblox or even Mighty Switch Force. Mighty Switch Force is a good comparison as, like Wayforward's inventive puzzling platformer, Mutant Mudds has 16 levels to complete plus a further selection of bonus stages that are unlocked upon finishing the main game.
Yet, Mutant Mudds isn't anywhere near as inventive as it would like you to think it is. What makes the new game from Renegade Kid (Dementium, Moon) stand out is the fact that you can switch to platforms in the background and foreground by standing on switches. This is a potentially neat idea as it attempts to make the most of the 3DS console's stereoscopic powers but, in reality, it doesn't really add anything as the levels are very linear and there is no point in which you have to think about when you need to switch in and out of the scenery. Compared to Mighty Switch Force's puzzling block switching mechanic it is pretty pointless.
If you take away the 3D trickery what you have is a Mega Man-style platformer with a water powered jet-pack nabbed from Delfino Plaza. Except not quite as awesome as that sounds. Playing as Maximillian, you have to save the world following an attack by muddy mutants. To do so, you must use his water blaster gun to shoot down the Mudds while collecting all the water sprites that will wash them away.
Despite the water power and the occasional Thwomp-style enemy, this is more Mega Man than Mario and how much you get out of it depends on how much you enjoy fiendishly difficult platformers. There is a time limit so levels take minutes to complete but you'll be replaying these many times as you only have three lives while falling into a spike pit means instant death. With spike pits placed beneath platforms that disappear after a second, death is something that you'll become accustomed to.
Enemies are placed in such awkward positions that you'll have to time your leaps and shots perfectly. The final level chucks everything at you: you've got clouds blowing you off the platforms, spike pits, those crushing Thwomp-style enemies, Mudds that lob bombs at you, those disappearing platforms and a bit of ice just thrown in almost as if to wind you up. With no checkpoints to speak of, you find yourself having to replay the same sections over and over again. The last time the phrase 'so unfair' passed my lips this often I was a teenager.
VVVVVV was unfair but it also had a great sense of humour and seeing as you respawned where you died each time, the amount of deaths almost became a talking point. 1,676, since you ask...
While VVVVVV was aimed at those who remember Commodore 64, Mutant Mudds has very much been designed for Nintendo fans. Take the secret levels which are dotted around each stage. You'll occasionally need power-ups obtained from Grannie's Attic to access them but they are a retro Nintendo fan's dream as the G-Land secret levels have monochrome Game Boy visuals while V-Land's are designed like a Virtual Boy game. Only they don't give you a headache. Once again, these levels are rather difficult.
With these, plus the bonus levels you get upon completion, there is just about enough content for your £8.10 although you have to question whether the lack of checkpoints and high difficulty level make it feel longer than it actually is.
That said, you will feel a great sense of satisfaction - almost pride - when you do manage to complete the final level although you might have to question whether you had that much fun doing it.