The gaming industry has come a long way ever since the first games, in terms of practically everything: graphics, storytelling, gameplay mechanics, even input methods have been revolutionised. That means that the more games come out, the less they are expected to introduce brand new mechanics, because of every game essentially borrowing something from some other title which pioneered said mechanic first. It is up to the developer then to be able to expand upon such “borrowed” content and create one’s own game from there.
Going into Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble, developed and published by Red Fly Studio, I was thinking I would have a game which copied 2010’s impressive Catherine’s mechanics into a totally new setting while changing basically nothing from gameplay. I am glad to say that my impression was totally off, since although it does take something from Catherine, Red Fly back it up with new mechanics and ideas which give the game its own identity among the platforming genre, which to be honest is quite saturated with the bucketloads of titles being released on a constant basis, thus making Mushroom Men stand tall above a lot of fellow platformers. The basic premise of the game is that Pax, who is the main character of the game, is targeted by the Truffle Princess who wants him as his lover. Pax does not like these affections and thus will not wilfully embrace the princess, who as a result ends up chasing Pax in a multitude of dynamic and action-paced levels.
The game plays out fairly similar to other platforming games with a neat little twist which involves several blocks laying around the level. From start to finish, you are being chased by the Truffle Princess, which means that there is not a lot of time to linger about in the level unless you want to end up in her clutches. The game is also generated on the spot, which means you cannot run very far ahead since the level is literally being constructed in front of you. This could have meant the possibility of procedurally generated levels, but with the budget of an indie studio I doubt whether that would have been feasible. Nonetheless it still is an intelligent touch to never let players get too far ahead and thus make the game too easy for them. A timer is also present in game, but it just clocks your time to beat the level and thus has no effect on the game, but will enable enthusiasts to try and beat the clock repeatedly to register record times of completion.
As mentioned before, the game revolves around the key component of moving blocks around. Pax can drag back blocks, push them in front of him, or carry and stack the blocks altogether. He can also drop down to the sides and hang, to be able to move sideways when something is blocking your way. Not all blocks can be moved, only yellow blocks, which thus is already a hint in itself, meaning that if you don’t see a yellow block there is no need to work your brains but just keep moving. The hard parts are generally outlined when you see these yellow blocks since these do not always need dragging but may need pushing or stacking blocks on top of each other to reach higher ledges. It makes for quick puzzles in a platforming game, puzzles which do not need a lot of thinking but at the same time incorporate a little variety into each level.
Another element of the game is spores. Spores are green collectible items which are spread throughout the level, some very visible while others are well hidden behind some blocks or even placed quite high. These spores enable Pax to enter one of his five special forms, which give him some special ability. The first ability is Ghost mode, which lets Pax pass right through his enemies. His second special form is Spider mode which enables him to defy gravity and walk even on the sides of the blocks. Moth form will see Pax able to fly for a short amount of time, which is very useful when having to reach high places, while Mole form unleashes Pax’s rage which lets him tear through both blocks and enemies. Then there is his ultimate form as Super Pax, which makes him invincible. All these provide worthwile alternatives which will result in the game playing differently if using different forms, helping the variety in the game quite a bit. These spores also affect level completion, since the stars awarded for completing the level vary according to the number of spores found and gathered. Finding all the spores in an area, of which there are 30, also grants access to a bonus level, which is locked otherwise.
Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble is far more than what it seems at first. It combines smart platforming with intelligent and fresh mechanics, and considering the game is not very long, it will surely keep players entertained from start to finish, and will make one feel quite satisfied for completing its levels. A very welcome breath of fresh air to platforming games, which can keep the hopes up for developers to incorporate new mechanics into their side scrolling adventures.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.