Giant Shrooms (wait, what?) invading may sound like a crazy fever dream, but unfortunately for Zenon, Mushroom Crusher Extreme‘s protagonist, it’s actually happening. Doomed? Hardly. Dude packs a serious punch, having studied the arts of elemental magic and all, so repelling this would-be invasion shouldn’t be much of an issue. Yeah. Famous last words…
See, while the hero of this tale may have been hitting the books on earth, fire, water, air and such, he’s by no means an all-powerful wizard, only really trained in the most basic spells: one of fire, one of earth. Definitely not enough to wreak isometric destruction, sending these Shroom things back to wherever they came from, but it’ll have to do… until something better can be acquired.
That said, flinging fireballs and smashing the ground in every cardinal direction will get you through the first few areas, after which more powerful spells become available; along with new enemies to test them on. Good thing too, as the basic, bouncing red… things… are easily outwitted and smashed to pieces. But then there are the nasty slimes, which leave hazardous ooze as they move, windy creatures with cloud attacks and tiny white blobs, to name but a few. Trust me, you’ll definitely want them additional ‘weapons’.
Or better yet, upgraded versions, even if that might require a fair amount of spore (currency mostly acquired from fallen foes) gathering. Just keep in mind that you can only bring four spells along at any given time, so choose carefully. And I’m not just referring to which you choose to scribble down in that metaphorical spellbook of yours either: while generally more powerful, higher levels of a spell tends to change how it works, too. So… be sure to read that tooltip before going into battle. I didn’t, and ended up getting horribly confused upon trying to hit an enemy directly in front of me, with Shock Wave 2.
Oh, almost forgot: your brutal slaughtering of Shrooms, slimes and other wicked beings in each level… runs on a timer, of sorts. Surprisingly, you don’t fail a level, should it reach zero before the enemy counter does. It does however tie into your rank / rating, as ‘time left’ yields a nice bonus. Simply surviving long enough got me a ‘C’ rank, which was enough to unlock more levels. That’s not to say nailing a glorious ‘S’ instead wouldn’t have yielded additional goodies, but alas, I’m not good enough at Mushroom Crusher Extreme (yet?) to solve that mystery.
Along with retro visuals, Mushroom Crusher Extreme follows old-school gameplay sensibilities: simple on the outside, complex on the inside. Though unforgiving to beginners, understanding its mechanics will lead to a satisfying experience.
Might have helped, had I actually utilized the game’s ‘fight fire with water’ mechanic, though, as baddies are downright weak to their opposing element. That and, as of a recent update, I could have brought along a friend, local co-op now being a thing and all. Two fireballs burn brighter than one, after all, and there’s definitely plenty room for another wizard in these rather sizeable levels.
Now, while it is in Early Access (v0.90.1, at the time of writing), according to the developer, all levels are in fact available, and the game is “roughly 70% feature complete”, so all that’s missing is some polish / bug fixing. Well, maybe a new spell or two? Maybe? We’ll see what happens, as always, with these still-in-development titles.
Mushroom Crusher Extreme [Early Access] is available from Steam, at $7.99.