It’s worth noting that the reviewer of this game has a strong disliking of mushrooms, truffles and fungus in general. However, he has promised that this will not affect his opinion of the game Mushroom Men: Truffle Trouble, the game which refuses to conform to your typical tropes and clichés that come with other video games. Originally a game on the Wii under the name Spore Wars, Truffle Trouble takes on a completely different approach, not before seen in the franchise.
The game is a puzzle platformer with a sprinkling of nightmare fuel. Pax, the hero of the mushroom men, is desperately trying to escape the wrath of the absolutely horrifying and visually nauseating princess, who has fallen in love with him. One can make as many arguments as possible about beauty being on the inside, but this is an exception to that claim. The princess is terrifying. After burning a hand-written advance from the princess, asking to marry her, Pax hits the sack, but what he doesn’t know, is that he is in store for a night of horror.
In what is hopefully a dream, the princess appears, locks him off from his original world in a seemingly new realm, and begins to chase him down. You can argue all you want with her but she will simply retort that she wants to “love you and hug you and kiss you and squeeze you until you pop.” And there’s no arguing to that. Also, this seems familiar to those who watched the old Looney Tunes cartoons, and can remember the classic episode with the yeti who wants a rabbit to love.
Hopefully, before starting the game, you looked at the controls, because this game goes down the same route that Castle Crashers did. If you don’t have a controller to plug in, you have to make do with the keyboard. The controls you are given make Pax the fungus about as easy to commandeer as an airship made of obsidian. In other words, get a controller, or prepare for a session of attacking when you wanted to jump.
The gameplay consists of you running down a straight path, made up of blocks, some of which you can move, bounce off or be fired from. Don’t think you have forever to solve these puzzles though, because the princess is constantly bearing down on you, smashing through the course and giving you the sweats. One thing this game can do is leave you panicked and scarred. Truffle Trouble is extremely tense, stressful and nerve-racking. You’ll often hear the sounds of the princess destroying the level before you see her, adding to the fear factor.
Not only that, but it is even possible to screw yourself over, by putting a block in the wrong place, or accidentally stomping it off the screen, at which point you find yourself trapped, a slave to the will of the princess and forced to either pause and restart, or watch as she bears down on you, screaming in approval of the situation. “Unforgiving” is the key word here. Mushroom Men laugh at your whining requests for checkpoints. If you fail, you start again, simple as.
What we find very interesting though, is that this game takes the regular tropes of video games, and turns the tables like a crazed interior decorator. Remember the platforming games in which you, the hero, rush across the land to save the princess? Well, the polar opposite happens here, as the hero escapes from the princess. The princess of a mushroom kingdom. This game may be a jab at Nintendo’s “rinse and repeat” ethic when it comes to releasing Mario platformers, and while we can’t be certain whether this was done on purpose, or is just a happy accident, we are raised from our seats in a round of applause at this symbolism.
Fans of the original game may be disappointed however, because this game is nothing like the predecessor. From what we’ve played, we’ve seen no reference to such mechanics seen in the first game as telekinesis or floating while jumping, both of which could have made this puzzle game very interesting. Why not use telekinesis to lift the blocks? Why does Pax have to use brunt force, hoisting the cubes over his shoulders? Why settle for the admittedly clunky jumping mechanics when you could gracefully float over a gap? The casting out of these features is honestly perplexing, as we feel they would have been great additions to the game.
As well as this, we found the game to become stale (this is a game about mushrooms though). After a while, you may become bored of the mechanic of collecting blocks. The levels are very “samey.” The only part of any level that the reviewer has been able to retain is the bit when there were three cannons in a row. Repetitiveness and monotony are easy traps to fall into for platformers, and unfortunately, it seems that Truffle Trouble has taken the bait like rats at the cheese. This reviewer even experienced some pretty severe glitches during his session. One time when it appeared that all hope was lost, and Pax would be married to princess toadstool; the game warped him to the end of the level. Another time, he was able to float above ground (maybe the gliding got in after all!) and respawn ahead of the marauding monarch.
Mushroom Men Truffle Trouble is an interesting game, when it comes to such things as the symbolism. However, aweing at symbolism won’t get you through a game, no matter how commendable it is. With clunky controls, repetitive gameplay, odd missing features and strangely advantageous glitches, it’s unfortunately a subpar platformer. Approach with caution.
MUSHROOM MEN: TRUFFLE TROUBLE / DEVELOPER: RED FLY STUDIO / PUBLISHER: RED FLY STUDIO / PLATFORM: PC (STEAM) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW