Super Mushrooms may be one of the more clever mashups we’ve seen in a while, combining unlikely game genres into a unique mix. This game takes the plant elements of Plants vs Zombies, but removes the tower defense style gameplay and replaces it with pinball. The combination results in a game we’ve never played before and one we want to see more of.
The basics of Super Mushrooms are easy to understand. Each level will take place in a forest clearing, where a nearby pool of water is infected with bacteria. Pipes lead the bacteria from the water and into your forest clearing, dropping them towards your lovely cottage. Your only defense against the onslaught of bacteria is your wooden fence and your pocket of mushrooms.
Your wooden fence acts like the paddles in a pinball game, bouncing anything around the board and away from the opening. The strategy of the game is to plant mushrooms in key locations, so that when you bounce a bacteria with your paddles, they smack into the mushrooms and take damage. The mushrooms act like pegs, preventing smooth passage past them but not forming a solid wall between the bacteria and your home.
By touching the bottom corners of your screen, you will move the bumpers up and down. To plant a mushroom, you can tap on a square in your screen and select which mushroom you like. You must have enough resources to plant, but you can earn more by destroying bacteria during the level. The most frustrating part of the game is planting a mushroom while playing a level. The bacteria do not stop moving so that you can select your mushroom. Instead, they simply move at half-speed. Even this reduced speed isn’t enough, as mushrooms will likely slip past you.
There’s more strategy to this game than one might think. Super Mushrooms has slight RPG elements to it that force you to think about your choices before the next level. Each game will earn you gold mushrooms and gold coins. Gold mushrooms unlock new mushrooms for you to choose from, and coins allow you to upgrade your existing mushrooms. Some mushrooms are basic and simply inflict damage. Others produce coins when hit or even form vortexes to hold bacteria away from your cottage. You can only pick three mushrooms types to take with you on each level, and your choices will also depend on the types of bacteria you will encounter in the game.
Look, but don’t eat.
The gameplay is interesting and unique, but there’s more to a game than just the levels. The design and look of this game is disappointing. It’s not a retina display game, and even non-retina display devices will produce over-pixelated images. The game attempts to replace cinematic cutscenes with still images by moving a camera over the image to imitate animation. This doesn’t work and ends up looking cheap.
This game is clearly made outside of the United States, which by no means makes it a bad game. However, we know it was made outside of the United States, because there are tutorial scenes in which English text has been laid on top of the original language. A little more effort in transitioning the game to a new market would have been appreciated.
Super Mushrooms is a surprising delight and came out of nowhere. It has that excellent mix of genres that creates a new type of game that is hard to put down. If there is a Super Mushrooms 2, we’re sure it will be a home run. For now, though, Super Mushrooms has some bugs to work out.