Developer: Zillion Whales, Creat Studios
Publisher: Zillion Whales
Platform: PC, Mobile, PS3
Tested on: PC
Mushroom Wars – Review
Even though Mushroom Wars sounds like the new Mario Bros movie or two drug addicts duking it out on the street corner, it’s actually a game that revolves around the art of war, fought by small people who coincidently live in mushrooms (no, it’s not the Smurfs). This game originally saw the light in 2009 on PSN for the PlayStation 3 and later on mobile platforms. It has only recently made its way onto Steam, and while this game still looks cute as ever, it hasn’t changed that much compared to its original release. Perhaps it’s an interlude for a supposed sequel, but nonetheless, we emptied our minds and grabbed our copy of The Art of War, to make sure all our plans came together perfectly.
For some reason the little people that live in mushroom houses are waging war and you’ve become their new commander. While it’s unclear why a giant war is being fought, you’ll have to do all you can to gain the upper hand against the different forces that come your way. Be it global domination, a mass genocide of other races or just good old fashioned hunger for power, things are never properly explained as to why a war is being fought, you’ll be able to put your imagination to the test. Sadly this means that the story value is extremely low, and while the game doesn’t really need a proper story, it would have been nice if there was a bit more than the few cutscenes that were embedded in the campaign.
Mushroom Wars resembles the flash games that were popular several years ago, albeit a very smoothened out version. The game handles a very cute, colorful and vibrant style that will please most players. Nonetheless, the game doesn’t offer that much variation, safe from a handful of different buildings and three different mushroom men species. That being said, things look quite good.
The menus are probably reminiscent of its mobile counterpart, which is not bad per se, as they have been optimized properly and look quite flashy and clear. It all fits in the entire picture and while this game was originally released in 2009, things still look quite spiffy.
The game has a rather subtle soundtrack, albeit an upbeat and captivating one. The soundtrack gets you in the mood for the battles at hand, and the different chapters have their own background tune. While this means that the music isn’t that varied, the catchy tunes never really get old, even after longer gaming sessions. Sadly, the game is void of any voice acting or even any gibberish from the small mushroom men you command.
Mushroom Wars is a simplistic strategy game, when it comes to the controls and the amount of options you have. The further you progress you will have to put your strategic abilities to the test. Nonetheless, all you’ll be doing in this game is taking over neutral or enemy mushroom buildings and come out as the victor.
The biggest part of the game is the single player mode, which in many ways introduces you to the mechanics of the game, and the diversity of the buildings. The game itself proves to be very simple to learn, as you’ll have only three different building types, namely normal residencies, forges and towers. The normal houses will make sure your troops grow in number, and thus you’ll need to conquer enough of these if you wish to conquer other points on the map. The forges will strengthen your troops, thus making it easier to conquer building or to oppress invaders. Last but not least, the towers will start shooting at everyone who walks within their range, which immediately thins out the troops storming the tower, or those who need to pass through the area to reach another building. The towers and normal houses can be upgraded, to shoot faster or produce more mushroom men.
Overall this game’s key asset is its simplicity but it’s also the game’s limitation. While Mushroom Wars is very accessible for newcomers to the strategy genre, it will not have that much variation when it comes to the building and the overall tactics you can utilize. In many scenarios it’s pretty much wait and see what your enemy does, and then counter them or simply try to get as many troops as possible to dwarf your foes in size. Luckily the game does have a few different modes, namely King of the Hill, Conquest and Domination. While the Conquest mode means you’ll have to conquer the entire map and thus is very straightforward, the Domination and King of the Hill modes spice things up. During the Domination mode you’ll see constructions that have a star above them, and thus when you have all of these marked structures under your control you’ll win the match. King of the Hill also has these structures, but you will accumulate points for all of these buildings under your controls, the longer and more buildings you have, the more points you will receive. The match will then end when you have a specific amount of points. While these modes add a bit of variation, the overall premise remains the same. During the campaign, all of these different modes will pass the revue and when you decide to play the Skirmish mode, you will be able to choose whatever mode you fancy the most.
The PC version of Mushroom Wars also has a proper multiplayer mode but sadly due to the low player base it might take some time before you find a match. While the multiplayer mode brings nothing new to the equation, it’s quite hard to fight your human foes, as their buildings will not indicate how many troops are present in their constructions.
Mushroom Wars is still fairly relevant and refreshing, even nearly seven years after its initial release. While it probably would have been better to release a sequel by now, PC gamers will still be able to enjoy this classic game. Both veterans and newcomers to the strategy genre will be able to put their strategic abilities to the test, even though this game might not be the most varied one in the genre.