Was this iOS port meant to be?
Touch based gaming has made massive strides over the past few years. With games growing in breadth and complexity, iOS gamers have increasing reason to claim their devices as a ‘legitimate’ gaming platform capable of competing with Nintendo and Sony’s handheld offerings. Just like releases for any other device, though, iOS games must contend with the limitations of their platform. Traditional 2D platformers are a genre difficult to execute on a touchscreen, with most entries requiring precise control of the player’s avatar.
As with most platformers, Mutant Mudds is set across a series of levels. Each level requires the player to leap, fly and shoot their way over environmental obstacles and through enemies in the hopes of eventually reaching the end point. Along the way, the player must collect golden diamonds if they hope to fully complete each level and spend them on powerups.
Each level is progressively more difficult, adding on new platforming challenges and enemy types. Levels also take place across several environments, each rendered in the retro style of Mutant Mudds. Graphics are blocky, but intentionally so. Even the game’s chippy soundtrack exudes the retro feel that Mutant Mudds has mastered. Fans of older platformers of the NES and SNES era accustomed to difficulty and some cool secrets in their platformers will feel comfortable with Mutant Mudds.
Mutant Mudds was previously released on Nintendo’s 3DS. It was one of the first eShop titles to showcase the 3D capabilities (3D adding depth to the screen, not polygonal 3D) of the 3DS. The player character leaps back and forth between parallel planes, each successive plane is set a bit further into the direction of the screen. For iOS gamers this means that as levels increase in complexity, it can become slightly difficult to distinguish between the various planes of the game without the 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS. While I didn’t have too many moments of such confusion, I did suffer several deaths because I mistook one plane for the other. Of course, the game was playable in 2D on the 3DS so 3D isn’t a requirement, just a benefit.
Shooting aliens, leaping from vanishing platforms, and picking the perfect moment to engage one’s jetpacks all require both timing and a mastery of the game’s controls. Mutant Mudds on iOS limits the gamer in terms of control, offering only a d-pad on the touchscreen. After spending time with the game, I was able to grow accustomed to the touch only control, but it certainly isn’t optimal when compared to the physical d-pad on a 3DS. The touch version, especially on the iPad, requires considerable travel between the left and right buttons. This creates a touch dead zone, where players only slightly adjusting the position of their finger on screen may not reach far enough to actuate the desired button. The lack of physicality means that the player must constantly be aware of the game’s controls- which works against the player’s immersion in the game.
Mutant Mudds aims to mimic older games of the same genre, and it does so successfully. One of the distinct elements of Mutant Mudds, the 3D shifting between planes, is lost on iOS, as is the tight control of the original version. If you can’t get your hands on the 3DS release of Mutant Mudds, the iOS version is serviceable, but the original remains the definitive platform for Mudds.
Mutant Mudds is available as a Universal Download for $0.99