Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Mutant Mudds.

I keep reading reports that Mutant Mudds isn't terribly long, with some players getting through it in 4 hours or so. I consider that unprovable hearsay, because there's no way I'll ever finish it. It's really frustratingly/enjoyably hard in the Mega Man tradition.
Mutant Mudds is an original sidescroller by Dementium/Moon developer Renegade Kid. For whatever reason, sentient mud monsters have invaded, and a kid with a powerful water gun is the only defense. He uses this water gun as both a projectile weapon and a time-limited jetpack for hovering, allowing him to cross slightly longer distances with his jump. In order to unlock more levels, players must not only survive, but pick up 100 floating items in each level.

That's the basic setup, and Renegade Kid uses these tools in the most diabolical manner possible. So many jumps are at the absolute limit of Maximilian's hover distance, and often with an enemy or moving/disappearing platform at the end. Enemies will fire projectiles from off-screen, trusting that you'll see them coming before you land. Timed disappearing platforms will interact with enemy attacks. That kind of thing. It is just as challenging, as devious, and as painful as it sounds.

This gauntlet of platform shooting challenges is presented with exceptional beauty. The levels have a 3D gimmick, in that there are three distinct planes of action that you can move between by jumping on certain blocks. And when I say "distinct" I mean that the back plane appears to be a couple of dozen yards behind the starting spot, and the closest plane is right up in the screen. It's an effective 3D visual even without the system's 3D turned on!

This 3D hybrid look is accompanied by pixel-art visuals that scale nicely with the effect. When you're in the closest plane, Maximilian is very pixelated, but in an intentional way, so it totally works. This theme is carried on with an uncommonly excellent chiptune soundtrack by Troupe Grammage, and hidden levels style after the look of Game Boy and Virtual Boy games.

Oh, right, I forgot to mention that -- every level has a second, harder level hidden within.

Mutant Mudds is available for $8.99 from the 3DS eShop. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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