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Mutant Storm

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Pompom Games

GAME PUBLISHER:Pompom Games

Copyright 2002, Pompom Games

I’m not sure where to start when reviewing this game, much as I cannot really think where I would start in a review of say, Space Invaders or Asteroids.

Let’s start with those classics, at least you all know them, this is a site dedicated to games of the past after all, if you didn’t come here looking for Space Invaders or something of its generation, chances are you at least know what it is.

So, Space Invaders was (and is) a pretty formulaic game (in terms of individual levels), you have a bunch of evil aliens up at the top of the screen and you have got you and your three or four forts at the bottom of the screen. You kill all the aliens, you get more aliens, then you die. It’s a pretty depressing bit of social commentary maybe, but it’s easy to understand and it’s easy to get into. Asteroids too, had pretty formulaic levels. There are rocks, you shoot ‘em; there’s more rocks, you shoot them too; you die. Simple and deadly again.

There used to be a lot of games that ran on this principle, just stack the enemies up against you, see if you could kill them and if you could, they just threw more at you to see if you got them, too. And again and again and again until you couldn’t get them, until there was that sudden quiet scream of frustration as you noticed that you had moved your ship irretrievably into the path of one of the Space Invaders‘ bombs; too close to an Asteroid; got caught in a straight path between Pinky and Clyde with no Power Pill to save you; let the ball slip past you in Pong or Breakout; Allowed momentum to take your Defender too fast and too near to the enemy; and you would wait the agonising, eternal moment, sometimes a whole quarter, even an agonising third of a second and then you died. The game hadn’t beaten you, you hadn’t failed to miss some subtle clue in an interminable mission briefing cutscene, the computer didn’t cheat, it wasn’t a bug, you didn’t lose your ore harvester, you just screwed up and so you died.

That’s basically what Mutant Storm is, but in a new way. At no point does the game kill you, present you with impossible odds or hand you an unbeatable foe (well it does, but you don’t have to kill them, they are just in the way). Mutant Storm doesn’t load you up with backstory, it doesn’t have five minute cutscenes between two minute missions and it doesn’t make you come out onto an exposed walkway between two snipers at opposite points of the compass on the hundred and fiftieth quickload, relying on both of them missing you at once in order that you even get the attempt at killing one of them so you can sneak back out of sight, quicksave and go back to hoping the other one will miss a second time in order that you can get a clear shot at him.

There’s none of that. There are just beasties and you and your gun and the occasional weapons powerup. You either kill all the beasties or you die.

You control a ship that moves a lot like the Defender around an odd-shaped arena-type level and you have 360 degree line of fire in the way of Smash TV, controllable with the mouse or (much better) a dual-analog control pad in the way of Smash TV or (whisper it) modern console control pads. Not to say that one control method is better though. I have played the game with both controllers and while I personally prefer the dual sticks (after all, you wouldn’t play Pac-Man with a mouse either), I know that there are levels I can do better with the mouse/keyboard combo.

Now, you can pull all those similarities together and say that the game is just a lame modern copy of a bunch of ‘classic’, ‘original’ games and that may be true. I couldn’t care less though because it’s awesome. Unlike any twenty games I could name these days, you are never going to be ‘beaten?’ by Mutant Storm, you are only going to screw up. There won’t be any complaining about poor level construction or any of that other complete crap we talk about to disguise the fact that modern games have about as much actual gameplay, gaming and for the love of god, actual playing as, I don’t know, mozzarella cheese or something.

Mutant Storm is fun for its own sake, you?ll keep playing because no matter how many times you fail, you always could have won. Always. You will keep trying the game until you have beaten each and every level, broken through all the difficulty levels and just damned well played it until you were sick of it for the simple joy of having a game that didn’t muck you about. And that’s as much as you can ask for at the end of a day. Get Mutant Storm – because you already like it, you just haven’t played it yet.



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