Mushroom Wars was first launched by Creat Studios http://www.creatstudios.com/ in 2009 on the PlayStation Network and garnered a bit of buzz as IGN named it one of their top 25 PSN games. The iPad version is a port of the original game and it works like it was designed for the touch-screen tablet. The story shown in silent movie style (complete with black bars on top and bottom of the screen) is simply and effectively conveyed. Aliens! Ohmergerd! You, the Orange Mushroom faction have to take up your pitchfork and fight for your mushroom houses!
That’s about it for the story, and the rest of the game is a simple, yet addictive, node-based RTS. Players control villages to grow more mushroom people to join the good fight, towers for defense and armories to improve your mushroom people. Each structure can be upgraded at cost of population, and the type of structure changed – with a population cost as well. This makes for interesting decisions that have to be made on the fly. Upgrade or attack/defend? Another factor is morale. The more you upgrade, the more key structures you control, the higher the morale of your armies, and that gives them a bit of an attack and movement boost.
Graphics, Sound & UI
Graphics are simple, yet to the point when you see wave upon wave of little animated figures make a little hop and cheer in their tiny voices as you take over a building and suddenly carry little sticks. A gauge on the left of the screen allows you determine the percentage of your army to send from each node. Numbers on your structure shows the number of little mushroom soldiers you have in each structure and Easy mode shows the number of your enemies. Structures you capture shudder and burn and turn orange when you capture them
Objectives are shown when the map starts,either by a tool tip or text across the top of the screen, but they are graphically illustrated as well. Little crowns designate key structures that you need to control. Other UI elements include morale dots and victory bars – measured by troops. Don’t be fooled by the number of troops on each side, they do not necessarily indicate difficultly as the enemy may begin with more structures and you find yourself needing every single one of those additional 200 mushroom people you start out with.
Interestingly enough, the game starts off with default Left Handed controls as the troops gauge is on the left of the screen. It can be changed in the menu to be placed on the right of the screen for ease of access by right-handed players.
Game Modes & Social Functions
The Multiplayer game and Challenge mode are both not active at this time, so the only game you can play is the Campaign mode. But there are enough different maps and level challenges to keep you busy for a while. The game operates with both Facebook connect as well as the Game Center to track achievements and allow you invite your friends to play as well. Mushroom Wars Mobile is the App’s Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/MushroomWarsMobile and players can keep track of updates and ask for help there. Tournaments take place on certain maps and high scores will presumably be displayed on Leaderboards… somewhere. As there aren’t any at this time on Game Center or their Facebook page.
The game starts you off along the Campaign trail on Easy mode, displaying all numbers and your structures displaying an “SOS” bubble when an attack is directed at it, and an upgrade hint on your structures. Some maps have a Normal as well as a Hard mode, and depending on the map, there are different objectives and the harder modes can be equal numbers, larger numbers and/or enemy figures not revealed, and no upgrade arrows displayed for your structures either. There are still other cues however, such as the construction dust when a building is being upgraded and the number and morale bar at the bottom of your screen.
So How Is It?
Mushroom Wars is more challenging and more addictive than you think! I really love this genre and this game is fun, challenging, and addictive. Don’t get put off by the seemingly poor graphics. The graphics, the little sounds, the animation all work together to produce an awesomely cute game, one that you can let a young friend play with no qualms (no graphical violence besides the burning building, no blood, no dying screams). Got a few minutes? You can totally make some progress on a hard level or gain some experience so you aren’t so totally humiliated the second time around.
The underlying strategy may be similar – hit the low population structures / allow your enemy to “soften” up a neutral, or 3rd “color” faction owned structure and swoop in for the kill – but the AI is excellent and although opening moves may be the same on each map, the AI reacts quickly and the modes with no enemy figures make life quite a bit more interesting. I am greatly anticipating multiplayer and challenge modes as Creat Studios hurries towards their first update of the game.