Reviews March 14, 2010

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars

Kenneth Seward Jr

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Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
Reviewed by: Kenneth Seward Jr.
System: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Action Adventure
Rated: E
Players: 1
Cost: $49.99
Release Date: 12/02/2008
Publisher: Gamecock
Developer: Red Fly Studio


I never thought I would be reviewing a game about mushrooms that didn’t have anything to do with Mario. Then again, I never thought I would walk into a Gamestop and ask if they had any Wii’s in. Video games have come a long way over the years, adding to their resume long cinematics, lush graphics, and unique control schemes. I should come to expect the unexpected whenever I start a new title. One of the biggest surprises recently came from how fun Mushroom Men was to play. Red Fly Studio has done the unthinkable in developing a third party title that is worth playing on the Wii!

Now to be fair, Mushroom Men would be hard pressed to compete with Nintendo’s first party adventurers. Pax, our hero, has his work cut out for him if he wants to be up there with the Links and Marios of the gaming universe. He has to constantly battle a camera that is intent on keeping enemies off screen, a control scheme that’s decent at best, and a forgettable story that takes a long time to get started. Pax even has to contend with lack luster boss battles, where the been-there-done-that feeling dominates. However, through all this, Pax is still a worthy adventurer on the Wii.

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One thing that I like about Pax is that his world is designed with exploration in mind. The fact that Pax is a Mushroom, ordinary places (like someone basement) becomes fascinating worlds. A broken TV turns into a mountain and a mini fridge becomes a frozen cavern. It wouldn’t be much of an adventure if the places you traveled to didn’t include enemy encounters. You will be exploring these familiar locals all while battling spiders, killer bees, and poisonous mushrooms. Not only that, Pax has the ability to form weapons out of everyday house hold items found during his travels. Levels can take hours to beat because of the constant urge to find usable items scattered around. When you can make a flame thrower out of a lighter and pez dispenser, you can’t help but imagine what else you can create. Even though not all the items are worth keeping (the razor blade pencil combo works better than the jax and string) it is still fun to play Macgyver!

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Another notable feat is how music is incorporated into Mushroom Men’s world. Nearly every action adds to the melodies. Talk to someone and their sounds (they make noises and their words are displayed onscreen) are rhythmically announced. Solving a puzzle will add a new layer to a song. At one point you have to traverse a broken pipe, where the drips of water fall in succession, creating yet another part of the ongoing symphony of sounds. It’s truly charming.

Mushroom Men: Spore Wars is a fun Wii title, although because of its faults, I am surprised to say so. There aren’t any new mechanics being implemented, the battles are of the bad hack and slash variety, and the platforming could use work. Yet, I still had a pretty good time. The make-a-weapon mechanic, exploration, and charming art and music style kept me entertained. It’s interesting; not only to see everything from Pax’s perspective, but also to battle giant bugs and animals using makeshift weapons. I fear that this won’t hold true for everyone though. I feel that with time and hard work Pax could become one of gaming’s new icons. As of right now, he is just charming!

Gameplay: 7
Surprisingly, MM is a fun game to play.
 
Graphics: 9
The art style is great; however it wouldn’t make it on any other next-gen system. I am afraid we have grown too accustomed to highly rendered graphics.

Sound: 8
Charming to say the least.

What’s New: 3
Not a whole lot.

Replay Value: 3
It’s fun to explore. The problem comes when you’ve found everything!

Final Score:
6