“…another example of cheap, hilarious, indie game fun…”
If you were a fan of YouTube in the fine old year of 2014, you will remember the rise of the hilarious little indie gem, Mount Your Friends. Made famous for its simple premise and spinning genitalia (yes, you read that right), Mount Your Friends shot to popularity among open-minded gamers looking for a cheap laugh with their mates. Just when you thought that factually inaccurate penis physics was a trope of yesteryear, however, the grammatically troublingly-named Stegersaurus Software Inc. has gone and done it again. Branded with the disturbing, albeit hilarious, tagline “A Hard Man Is Good To Climb”, this is Mount Your Friends 3D. This is going to be an interesting one…
It is important, perhaps, to first explain the premise of these games. Fortunately, it is both simpler and less disturbing than the name would suggest. Essentially, your goal is to climb atop a growing tower of people, aiming to reach higher than the last player and ultimately outplay them to become the top of this tower of men. The twist, however, is that all of these men are clad in heavily-revealing thongs and not a garment more. This makes the whole experience a whole lot more interesting, especially when your flailing hands are searching frantically for something to grip onto, only to find your good mate’s prominent, phallic appendage with a firm and steady grasp. There is also a goat involved, but you don’t need to worry about that…
In the original game, these meaty fellows and their impressive peaks would climb, swing and throw themselves to the top of the stack on a somewhat-acceptable 2D plane, but all that has changed in Mount Your Friends 3D. If anything, this has made the game harder, and significantly more funny and/or disturbing. In this latest title, the player need only control the hands of their mounter, manipulating the game’s questionable physics to grasp onto whatever they can find of their opponents to make their way to the top of the pink and fleshy tower. Doing so is a challenge, somehow feeling more difficult that it had previously. Perhaps it is the 3-dimensional plane in which the game plays out, but getting up in Mount Your Friends 3D can be hard. Yes, I am aware of what I just said. Please just ignore it and carry on.
The increased difficulty of control in Mount Your Friends 3D is furthered by the additional modes of play that this game offers. Gone are the days of basic vertical or horizontal mounting. Now, timing is key, and your overarching goal varies in minor yet challenging ways. Be it the evolution of successful mounters into spiralling building blocks, or the reduced time available in some game modes over others, Mount Your Friends has a wide range of challenges on offer to suit your mood and mix up the play. Does it work? In some ways, yes. The game is made more interesting by the variety, but it doesn’t quite manage to uphold the fun, simple nature of its predecessor. There was something quaint about being able to crack on with some straightforward mounting, without the need to worry about the technicalities.
There are some new elements to gameplay in Mount Your Friends 3D which can make for both a blessing and a curse. As previously noted, you now only climb with two limbs as opposed to four. This takes some of the pressure off the player given the added dimension to the game, but somehow takes away from the experience somewhat, with less silly swinging around making for slightly more sensible mounting. On the plus side, however, you only have to hold a pose at the top of the tower to secure your position at its peak in Mount Your Friends 3D. Previously, you needed an additional finger to hit start and freeze your position once you reached the top. Under pressure, this could be a struggle, and it also led to some players spending excruciating amounts of time trying to screw you over as much as possible. The new countdown timer rectifies this, ensuring that gameplay progresses in a timely manner once a player reaches the top. In addition, your usual climbing time is supported by a small, depleting meter of additional time which you can eat into when you hit a sticky situation. This little boost of support helps the game to keep pushing on, but equally adds a new layer of pressure to the game when you know your backup period is running short. It is also a true blessing when you accidentally let go of the man-pile and need to rush to work your way back up from scratch.
Customisation has also seen an upgrade in Mount Your Friends 3D. This element was present in the original, but only in so far as altering your character’s skin colour and factors such as their penis. The most recent title expands on the options of a traditional swinging limb or the alternative of a banana, allowing players to go so far as to imprint their own face on their stacked, naked mounting artist. I am not sure this is the feature that the original was missing, or necessarily one that players were crying out for, but it is good for a few minutes if you are looking for a laugh. In reality, it is no more effective than the old EyeToy camera games for the PlayStation 2 back in the day, but if this is something you feel that you need in your life, the game is happy to let you know it is on offer. In addition, stickers have been added to the game too. These can be used in the menus or to distract your friends as they attempt to climb your 50-foot meat tower. They add an element of harmless fun to the game, and certainly achieve success in creating salty opponents. To that end, the fit in well with the rest of the game.
Technically, there is nothing much wrong with Mount Your Friends 3D. It is another example of cheap, hilarious, indie game fun, just like its predecessor, and for most players who enjoyed the original game, it is probably worth playing for the laughs. That being said, the game pushes to new heights that it didn’t really need to. Mount Your Friends 3D lacks the simple charm of the original game, adding complex elements where they weren’t really needed in terms of gameplay and increased difficulty of control due to this new, additional dimension. Mount Your Friends worked because it was silly, funny and incredibly simple to play. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the newer game, then, the original must remain the undefeated, undisputed champion of the mount.