So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Gamecock Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi
This Nintendo DS game is a traditional 2D platformer rendered in 3D.
- Rich and interesting levels; shows a good amount of depth, especially for a platformer; Les Claypool contributes to a quality soundtrack
- Falling to your death is far too prevalent; combat is sloppily implemented; the simple puzzles add nothing
What the game does do well is provide a relative amount of depth to a genre that isn't known for being overly complex. Regrettably, the game does too many things poorly to allow itself to rise above being forgettably average, and that's a shame considering its potential.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
Strange, green dust showered down from a low-passing comet turns everyday plants into sentient beings, who, after separating into different factions and tribes, engage in a massive war. And that's where Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi begins — a traditional 2D platformer rendered in 3D that shows flashes of potential but, ultimately, has too many flaws to garnish recommendation.
The world of the Mushroom Men is essentially our world; however, the game focuses on the details and minute aspects that 3-inch-tall beings would encounter. This makes the game's surroundings incredibly charming and engaging, as players attempt to discern and manipulate regular household items that look markedly different from the 'Shroom Men's truncated perspective. Fortunately, each stage's level design uses this unique perspective quite effectively, often resulting in very clever and interesting layouts. Unfortunately, the gameplay involved in interacting with and moving through these distinctive environments completely squanders the game's potential.
Rise and Fall of the Fungi
If you plan on playing this game through to the end, you must have the patience to withstand literally hundreds of falling deaths, which is one of the real glaring weaknesses of this title. As a platformer, any aspect associated with movement from one area to the next, such as jumping or using your grappling hook, needs to be extremely precise and uniform. The jumps always have to be very clear and concise, because the consequence of falling in Mushroom Men is massive health reductions, or more often, death. Because the game fails to really establish where players can and cannot go, it needs to be more forgiving when they make a mistake.
The game also suffers from some very sloppy combat. Just like the jumping and platforming portions of the game, combat feels very imprecise. Sometimes your button-mashing attacks will completely incapacitate a foe and you'll quickly defeat him, while other times a long battle will ensue where you'll suffer a lot of damage. In the later levels, enemies seem to grow far too powerful, which will often force you to abandon combat altogether in favour of avoidance and retreat.
Puzzle-minigames will occasionally pop up throughout this title as well, only they are so overly simplistic that it feels like the developers took about 10 minutes to design each of them. And there is really no consequence to failing at them, besides having to play them again in order to further progress the game.
Dark Side of the 'Shroom
What the game does do well is provide a relative amount of depth to a genre that isn't known for being overly complex. For example, there is a weapon-collecting system which rewards customization. You can slowly level up different facets of your character, improving his strength and speed or gaining continuously more powerful spells. And the stylus is utilized in creative ways to both provide more efficient attacks and manipulate in-game menus. Regrettably, the game does too many things poorly to allow itself to rise above being forgettably average, and that's a shame considering its palpable potential.
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