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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Creat Studios
Developed By: Creat Studios
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Players: 1-2
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: October 15, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Price: $9.99
Written By: Anthony C.

Acrid smoke rises over the blood soaked battlefield as volley of cannon and flame reign from the sky with a tumultuous fury that shames even the gods themselves. For what purpose does this chaos ensue? Conquest…of mushrooms.

Creat Studios has had a rather interesting history, with titles ranging from Biker Mice from Mars and American Chopper, but in this current generation they have really started to blossom with great PS3 DLC titles like Digger HD and Cuboid. Their latest release, Mushroom Wars is a brilliant and quirky little RTS that plays more like an intense, fast-paced game of Risk than your standard battle-heavy Starcraft/Command and Conquer style affair.

Mushroom Wars employs very simple game-play mechanics that take only minutes to learn but are still very challenging and somewhat addictive. A player begins with at least one mushroom and a set number of units. From there, he or she must choose whether to upgrade their current mushrooms, seek out unclaimed territories, or convert their mushrooms into different types. Play controls are very simple, but at times they can be mind-numbingly frustrating. The Left Stick selects which mushroom you want to use, holding down R1 brings up a red arrow that directs where your units will be sent. While holding the R1 button down, the controller’s four primary buttons serve to dispatch units in quarter increments (Triangle being 100%, Square 75%, X 50%, and Circle 25%). L1 brings up your upgrade choices, and by pressing the corresponding button, one may either upgrade their current mushroom or change their mushroom to any one of the three types- Village, Tower, and Forge. The village is the only mushroom which produces units, the tower shoots any hostile units that enter into its firing radius, and the forge increases all units’ strength.

The play control mainly suffers when it comes to dispatching units. Once your steadfast little men are on their way, there is no stopping them. Hundreds of times while playing I found myself cursing that sliding red arrow as I accidentally sent off a few brave soldiers to do battle with the impregnable fortress and could only watch in horror as they stalwartly marched to their doom. This type of game lends itself to a keyboard and mouse, but given the limitations of an RTS with a console controller, I believe the controls work well enough once you get used to it.

The game’s visual style is adorable, but nothing new. It contains sassy little 2D soldiers and static backgrounds in a style we have come to expect from high quality flash-based games (think Castle Crashers). Despite my graphic intro, the violence is minimal, and all battle is done indoors and out of sight, with smoke (and little soldiers’ souls!) rising to the sky. The battles are reminiscent of the classic cartoons where a hero or villain would step into a rowdy room for a brawl, but the audience would be left outside, only to hear the sounds of a rumble and imagine the violence themselves.

The game’s audio is quite pleasant overall, but can at times become irritating. The game features a few pleasant, ambient tracks, but only one song will play per battle and it is often too short, looping several times. The game’s sound effects are well made and fit perfectly with the adorable flash environment Creat studios has created. The only complaint I have about them is when the soldiers successfully capture a mushroom (especially the Forge type mushrooms) they let out a scream of jubilation which is at once irritating, strangely distorted, and loud- with the volume compounding based on how many allied units are on the map.

Mushroom Wars offers three modes of game-play. The first is the standard, single-player campaign with 28 unique levels with a few tutorials sprinkled throughout. Skirmish mode allows players to jump right into a match against the AI and offers three different battle modes over 12 maps, allowing for 36 unique challenges. Finally, the Local Multiplayer mode allows you and a friend to face off in any of the three battle modes over six different maps. This last part brings me to Mushroom Wars greatest weakness- if it can be considered one. Though I am not usually the type of person to say, “Oh this game has no online multiplayer? It sucks!” this particular game BEGS to be played online. The local multiplayer is great, but even that is only two players- where as skirmish and campaign maps both feature 4 army scenarios.

That being said, the single player campaign is fantastic and there is enough to keep you busy. As mentioned, the campaign mode features 28 different stages. A few of these are tutorials designed to slowly introduce players to the game’s mechanics. For the most part, your goal is to conquer the map. Some missions require you to capture a specific mushroom, or hold a base for a certain amount of time, but this is most easily accomplished by controlling as much of the map as possible, so in essence the three types of battle all seem the same.

One area where the game really shines is its AI and difficulty levels. While the campaign maps are specifically slanted to favor the enemy and provide a challenge, the AI itself is not unfair and cannot accomplish impossible feats that the player cannot. In normal mode, the AI plays somewhat reserved, but if you make a mistake it will pounce on you like a bloodthirsty lion! On easy mode, the AI plays almost the exact same as on normal mode, but this time you can see where they are attacking and how many units each of their mushrooms has inside. If you are having trouble with a particular battle, you can really learn a lot from playing on Easy mode a couple of times and then retrying it on normal. Hard mode consists of an absolutely relentless AI and forces you to pay further attention to the battle by removing upgrade hints. The campaign can be beaten in a few hours if you carefully read tutorials and loose a few (dozen) times. If you are highly skilled (or playing on easy), the game will be much shorter. According to my final campaign statistics I logged about an hour and a half on normal, forty five minutes on easy (for a few challenges that proved too much for me) and a minute and a half on hard. I’m almost positive they didn’t count the hundred times I restarted levels, especially that infernal space ship final challenge.

Mushroom Wars is a unique and delightful fast paced strategy game. For only $9.99, it is a fantastic addition to anyone’s PSN Download library, but if you are expecting a deep and epic real time strategy game, this will not quench your desires.


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