Mushroom Crusher Extreme is a retro style, challenging action game developed by Mushroom Party and Team Jolly Roger. It is available on Steam and Humble Bundle for $7.99. This review was conducted by Joseph Pugh.
Mushroom Crusher’s visual style really caught my eye with its launch trailer. I picked it up on impulse for myself, but I make it a point to try and review every game I play so here we are. Mushroom Crusher Extreme is a neat old school arcade game to the letter. You progress by getting high scores. It’s not enough to simply complete the levels, in Mushroom Crusher, it is all about mastering them.
Each level is a kind of arena where you are tasked with eliminating a variety of mushroom style enemies (and the occasional fat squirrel). You are on the clock and the faster you complete the level the higher the score. You wield elemental spells to vanquish your fungi foes. Four spells can be taken into a level with you at a time. The most basic spells have a single element while later game spells have two elements.
Each enemy has an element type and playing off of their weaknesses is key. Fire and water are weak to each other as are wind and earth. Your spells also interact with the environment. A water spell may make flowers grow, or you can push crates with wind and smash rocks with earth for example.
The higher your score the more levels and trinkets you unlock. Trinkets are passive buffs you can equip. You also collect a currency known as spores that you spend on new spells, spell upgrades and on unique trinkets. The concept is simple but the game is challenging. You have to manage a lot of tasks at once to get the best scores.
You get extra points for any leftover time when you complete a level, you also get points for combos. The more mushrooms you crush, the higher your combo multiplier climbs. Smite another mushroom before the meter runs out and it refills and ascends higher. Finally, you lose points for the damage you personally take. In true retro fashion, the points matter!
Hourglasses litter each stage and grant bonus time when destroyed. Many of them are in hard to reach spots where you need to manage the environment in a very puzzle-like manner to access them.
Furthermore, each time you kill an enemy with an element it is weak against, you add five seconds to the clock. To master the levels, you have to learn the most efficient ways to fight the mushrooms while avoiding damage and also solving the environmental conundrums to collect all the hourglasses. It’s pretty thrilling.
The game is also playable in online or local co-op, the combo meter drains faster in this mode but you can really work together and combine your spells to obtain the highest scores.
You obtain a wide variety of spells to play with as well, from earthen mines, spikes, fireballs, wind gusts and more. Learning what spells to pack on each level is part of the strategy. The variety of enemies have their own attacks and behavior patterns. I really enjoy the old school vibe from the game as the enemies hop around the grid. It is very nostalgic and in a good way.
The controls can be a little clunky and it takes a bit of time to get the hang of them. The game is real-time but the stages are on a type of grid. You move around with the WASD keys or a directional pad on a controller. It’s awkward at first, there is a slight intentional input delay. You will probably accidently run into enemies until you get used to it.
It’s worth sticking it out though. Mushroom Crusher is a small, fun and adorable retro arcade game. Its design is solid and there is a lot to unlock and master. It’s cheap and easy to recommend. Give yourself an hour to get the hang of the controls.
Wanna check out a review of another retro game? Check out my review of Streets of Red!
- Simple but fun arcade action
- Good enemy and spell variety
- Local and online co-op
- Adorable but slick retro visuals
- Controls are a bit clunky at first
- The in-game encyclopedia is somewhat poorly written and hard to read.