Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Mush

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Electronic Theatre ImageThe debut release from the young team at Angry Mango has been quite some time coming, with Electronic Theatre able to get hands-on with the title nearly a year ago at Nottingham’s GameCity festival, and it looking more-or-less complete at that time. Of course, it’s common knowledge that Microsoft Studios don’t like to rush things, and as such Angry Mango have simply had to wait for their launch day to roll around. That day has finally come however, and Mush is now available as a Windows Phone 7 exclusive release.

Despite the relative youthfulness of the studio, Angry Mango have taken upon themselves the Herculean task of innovating in one of the most overly familiar videogame genres around. Mush is a 3D platform title in which players must simply progress from the start of a Electronic Theatre Imagelevel to the end. When we say ‘simply’ however, this isn’t a case of holding right and occasionally jumping. In fact, neither of those commands even exist in Mush.

Directional movement is primarily controlled by the Windows Phone 7 gyroscope, with floaty handling seeing our hero trundle left-and-right at a pace which suggests a distinct lack of urgency. Everything challenge the will face is intuitive in it’s design: a switch that needs to be held down will typically have a boulder nearby that can be pushed into place, a coiled snake that bounced you onto a higher ledge a few moments ago will most likely be the answer to the problem facing you at the next cliff edge. But these are the most rudimentary tasks in Mush, and it isn’t long before Angry Mango decide to start throwing more rules at you.

Mush is an emotional character, and his emotions have a great effect on his abilities. Drawing a smile on the screen (a ‘u’ shape) will lighten his mood, and therefore also his self: Mush will constantly float upwards until he hits a ceiling, with the player able to control the direction of his ascent via the same floaty handling as whenElectronic Theatre Image on the ground. When you wish to return him to normal, simply draw a straight line on the screen. With this basic premise, players will quickly learn techniques involving drawing smiles and lines repeatedly in quick succession to enable Mush to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

Of course, happiness isn’t the only emotion Mush can feel, and it isn’t the only emotion that has an effect on his movement. If being happy makes Mush as light as a feather, it’s only fair that being sad makes him as heavy as a brick. And by that same regard, what will confusion and anger offer? As each emotion is introduced players will learn to switch from one to another to overcome the obstacles in front of them, from happy to sad to angry in one quick sequence of movements. Mush is a relaxing gameplay experience if you want it to be, but those gamers looking for a challenge will relish the invitation to test their improvisation skills while attempting to collect all of the minimotes hidden within a level.

The minimotes are essentially the coins or rings of Mush, though there is no opportunity to grab an extra life upon collecting one hundred as there are no lives in this videogame. Minimotes require a specific emotion to be active to collect, with an assortment for each on any single level. It’s a design that tests your ability to overcome Electronic Theatre Imageobstacles rather than your dexterity, and as such Mush doesn’t feature enemy enemies, or even any death of any kind. It’s grand, exquisitely designed levels are the perfect playground for the player to explore the abilities they have at hand, frequently hiding additional routes and minimotes down the most unlikely of paths. That being said, the one gripe concerning Mush’s design would also be one of it’s biggest strengths: those players looking to collect every minimote in a level may find themselves spending in excess of ten minutes on a single stage, and while that may not seem like too great an investment, it’s not quite the short bursts of play that some may have in mind for a mobile format.

Mush features a fantastic visual quality. Most likely set to be compared to the likes of Loco Roco and Patapon, Mush sets itself aside by offering more detail in it’s environments than either of those titles while still presenting the look of a papercraft world. The pastel shades are easy on the eyes and the animation has been implemented in Electronic Theatre Imagesuch a way that it manages to avoid breaking the illusion of a living paper world; unique and inviting throughout it’s varied landscapes.

As a debut title, Mush is a stunning piece of entertainment software. The current-generation of hardware has played host to some wonderfully innovative 2D videogames made available via digital distribution, and Mush deserves to join the ranks of Braid and Limbo with respect to its creativity. Based on the evidence here Electronic Theatre can’t wait to see what Angry Mango come-up with next as, quite simply, Mush is not just one of the finest platform videogames on Windows Phone 7, but on any mobile format. Until you’ve played it, you simply haven’t seen what mobile videogame productions are capable of.

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