Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars Review
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Red Fly Studio 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Gamecock 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 2, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is an action/adventure title from Red Fly Studio and Gamecock. The development/publishing duo has been hard at work for many months now trying to get this game just right. In fact, a number of hiccups delayed the game's release, but all that effort has yielded a well-realized and fairly polished title that deserves both praise and attention from Wii owners.

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars screenshot

This unique game takes its inspiration for style and storyline from classic pulp fiction - Black Mask, The Shadow, Weird Tales, etc. Players take on the role of Pax, a sentient, orphaned fungus on a mission. Pax and other fungi (bulete, morel, lepiota, and amanitas mushrooms) became conscious when a peculiar, green dust from a large meteorite spreads across farmers' fields. Little did the human authorities know, awakened beings in the form of mushroom men were about to claim the Earth as their home. The story of the mushrooms' rise as a sentient race is nicely fleshed out in the DS version of the game, Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi. The Wii edition starts up where the DS leaves off, as it chronicles the armed clashes and violent strife that inevitably comes with being a rational race - the splintered tribes of mushroom species struggle with each other for supremacy. Throughout his journey, Pax will have to fight ravenous creatures such as rabbits and spiders. However, the greatest threat to his survival comes in the form of other mushroom species (lepiota and amanitas mushrooms). Pax will have to survive peril after peril on his quest to find meteorites, acceptance, and himself.

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While early levels are fairly linear, the difficulty quickly begins to amplify, as branching paths and expansive environments pervade the bulk of the game. Strewn throughout every level, players will find meteorites and salvage that will make Pax more formidable. Pax has a special ability to absorb meteorite fragments and use their power to enhance his spore powers (such as telekinesis and plant manipulation), as well as the uncanny talent for transforming human junk into powerful weaponry. Every level has a quota of little green rocks and plastic vending machine eggs ("scav") for players to find. This collection mechanic not only extends the title's length by encouraging exploration, but it also is very rewarding; meteorites buff your little shroom, and the varied, highly inventive weapons that Pax will "MacGyver" are truly awesome.

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars screenshot

Weapons are divided into three categories: bludgeoning, slashing, and motorized. Picking up mundane objects such as toothpicks, a PDA stylus, rubber bands, bottle caps, chewed gum, silverware, bobble heads, batteries, thimbles, and the like are important to Pax's survival because they are rapidly converted into substantial weapons that make quick work of voracious animals and evil fungi. Each weapon is subsequently classified by a star rating that defines their effectiveness. As you progress, better weapons become available to Pax. This weapon mechanic is perhaps the single most inventive and engaging aspect of the game, but the large, clever environments and solid platforming aren't too shabby either.

The game is full of platforming puzzles for players to best. Gamers will have to analyze the environment in order to find where they need to go next to pick up the scattered "scav." This inevitably leads to confrontations with minion beasts as well as larger mini-bosses. After collecting the required objects and satisfying the goals, players will be challenged with dispatching an end-of-level boss. The make up of enemies, including bosses, changes from level to level, so you'll always have new combat challenges. Unfortunately, standard combat is relegated to waggling. Thankfully, timed waggles are far more effective than that of the wrist-wrenching variety. Nevertheless, combat does feel a bit dull except when taking on mini and big bosses; often environmental hazards and new techniques are employed to deal with them, which makes battling far more interesting.

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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