If a fungus grows because something else is decomposing, what grows on a rotten mushroom? The answer may be this side-view platforming action adventure. Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi has great art design and terrible everything else.
As always seems to happen these days, a glowing meteor has crashed to earth, causing all of the various species of mushroom to come to life and develop a sort of aboriginal culture. And because that apparently effs up the food chain a bit, it’s up to you to find food for your tribe to eat, protect them from marauding mosquitoes and other tiny, vicious predators, and scavenge the hell out of every random piece of crap you see in each level.
The problem is, you’re a mushroom instead of a typical action hero. And trust us: The ability to walk and talk and even solve simple puzzles makes you the most impressive mushroom ever, but it does not make you a three-inch Belmont brother. Regardless of which class you choose, combat is simplistic at best and a nightmare at worst. Your basic attacks are far too weak, and pretty much every enemy is so much quicker than you that attacking them is like trying to swing a sledge hammer at a 90 mph fastball.
You do have a few special attacks like grenades and razor-like leaves, but they can be tough to execute thanks to the fact that the game can’t decide whether it wants to use the stylus and touch screen or the traditional, button–and-d-pad controls. So it uses both, which works even worse than you’re imagining. Try the alternate configurations immediately.
Making things much worse are the facts that you jump like a bowling ball, you’re as fragile as a light bulb, and these levels seem more like some sort of experiment in frustration than anything you’d do for enjoyment. Get ready for an infuriating number of blind death drops, anchor points for your rope and hook that just randomly detach (sending you plunging to your doom even more frequently) and a map so small it’s almost useless. In fact, we absolutely dare you to get past just the second level (exploring the tree, with the mosquito mid-boss) without quitting at least three times out of sheer annoyance.
The worst thing is, there was tremendous potential here. The art style is fantastic, and the campy, B-movie concept is golden. And the way you make new weapons out of garbage you find – sticks, needles, broken shards of glass – is really fun. But once you add the gameplay in there, ugggh. Mushrooms grow where living things have died – in this case, the underlying corpse belonged to fun.
Dec 24, 2008