October 28, 2013 Leave a comment
MULLETMAN (has to be written in all caps, like it’s being screamed), is the latest title from Total Commitment Games. My only previous experience with them was briefly playing their Escape from Robot Doom, a very good-looking 3D title that I had to quit playing after around ten minutes because it wasn’t compatible with my epilepsy. But, from what little I did play of it, I honestly thought it had the worst play control of any 3D game I’ve ever played. Like someone played Bubsy 3D and tried to emulate it, only they made it worse. I’m not exaggerating. It’s one of those games where, if I had been able to put more time in it, might have been a contender for the worst game I’ve ever played.
MULLETMAN is not quite that bad, but it is one of the worst games I’ve played in 2013. Like Escape From Robot Doom, it comes down to terrible play control. Essentially a run-and-gun platformer, MULLETMAN stars a very close Mega Man lookalike, which is what attracted me to the game in the first place. Having played the truly amazing Vintage Hero just a few months ago, a game I consider to be, as of this writing, the best XBLIG ever made, I figure that games inspired by the Blue Bomber might generally be of higher quality. But beyond having a similar character design, including a blatant copy of Mega Man’s iconic jumping posture, MULLETMAN is nothing like Capcom’s franchise. There’s only one type of enemy, along with various traps and timed-jumping areas. Good character models are really the only positive thing to say about the graphics. They’re not bad or anything, but it’s very bland and drab. Certainly not something that gets you excited to be playing it. Atompshere matters. If you don’t believe that, go live on the moon.
Where MULLETMAN really falls apart is the jumping physics. Apparently by design, a game centered around running and jumping requires you to stop moving before attempting to jump. This is a mind-boggling choice. As a result, I often slipped off ledges while attempting to maneuver from platform to platform. When you go to jump and you don’t stop moving, your character does a silly little bunny hop thing. Mind you, because the controls are slightly unresponsive, sometimes you will stop moving and hit the jump, only to not jump. Responsive controls are an absolute must for any platformer. If you can’t get those right, the game should not be released. MULLETMAN feels like the child of one of those parents that shoves their kids out the door at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday. Ready or not, you’re out of here.
The controls don’t exactly lend themselves to the level design, either. Many sections are single-block platforms that fire missiles vertically after you land on them. These sections require tight jumping controls and fast movement physics, neither of which MULLETMAN possesses. The jumping is slow and floaty, reminiscent of the Bubble Man sections of Mega Man 2. It worked there, in stages designed around avoiding spiky walls. Here, damage is almost inevitable. The game is generous in the sense that you have infinite lives and checkpoints are liberally scattered around, but it never helps ease the frustration brought on by the terrible control. On top of all that, the game has problems with choppy, stuttering frame-rate on occasion. The developer was puzzled by this one, though every player I’ve spoken with has had issues with it. Splazer Production’s gameplay footage shows it a few times. For me, it was frequent, nearly every time I jumped with any other moving object on-screen.
You can see the choppiness early on in the vid. It seems to hit different, but consistently, among most players. By buddy Kyle, whose Extra Life charity events you should totally check out, also had issues with MULLETMAN.
Even without the problems, I don’t think MULLETMAN has a particularly high ceiling in terms of potential. It only took me thirty minutes to complete the game. At least I think I did. I ended up in a jail cell with “The End” written above it. If not for the bad controls, bland graphics, unfair level design, floaty physics, and technical issues, I’m not sure MULLETMAN would have been much better than mediocre. Though I must say, the developer seems to have something resembling talent. Escape from Robot Doom, horrible as it was, at least looked really good. Very few XBLIGs look like they could pass as honest-to-goodness professional games, and it did. And MULLETMAN would catch on just by being a Mega Man lookalike, if it could spread by word-of-mouth, which it simply can’t in the state it’s in. Both games were ruined by poor control, which tells me that Total Commitment Games needs to bring someone in that can handle that aspect. As it stands, their games are good for little more than causing players to invent entirely new swear words. MULLETMAN controls are Fruckenrchist and the game is Arserunoff.
$1 said “watch, Fruckenchist is probably German for “Dazzling to the Senses” or something in the making of this review.