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Mr. Nutz

Genre: Platformer Developer: Ocean Publisher: Ocean Players: 1 Released: 1994

Many reviewers before me have made fun of the title of this game. Though it’s hard not to, I will try. For those of you who may have missed all of those jokes, no, Mr. Nutz is not the title of an obscure porn film in which an actor tries to stay anonymous by assuming a witty pseudonym (like Buck Naked). Rather, it is the title of a cute platformer starring a squirrel with sporty sneakers and a green (on the box) or yellow (in the game) cap.

There isn’t really much of a story to it all either. The package summarizes the epic – that tries very forcibly to be funny – in two horrifying sentences: Mr. Nutz – Only he can prevent a new and permanent ice age. To help him on his way he’s got a lotta Nutz, a lotta gutz and one enormous tail. (Note that I’m not making this up. It is actually a statement on the back of the box.) It’s totally unclear why anyone would start a new ice age, nor is it clear who’s villainous idea this is.

Yes, Mr. Nutz is one of those games that actually looks pretty good in screenshots but isn’t so impressive once you actually got to play it. Sure, the characters are large and colorful, and the animation isn’t bad either, although no way on par with truly Genesis animation classics like Aladdin or Earthworm Jim; however, the overall graphics can best be described as dull. Though the characters are cute and colorful, none of them is really original or extensively animate. The stage designs reach the same level of boredom. Each consists of five sub-levels, of which the last is a boss stage. Unfortunately, they all look quite drab and dark compared to the characters, and we’ve seen it all before. There’s a stage in the woods, on ice, in a volcano, and so and so forth.

The world of Mr. Nutz is scattered with many, many enemies who will for no reason damage our hero, like moles, spiders, owls, ladybirds, and beetles. There are also walking red apples that look more like tomatoes, hammering hands coming out of trees, enormous flesh-eating flowers that pop out of nowhere, jumping green things which are presumably mutated mossy tree stumps or broccoli sprouts. Worst of all are the hedgehog-like creatures that require you to throw a nut at them so that they lose their prickles. That way, Mr. Nutz is able to jump on them harmlessly and get rid of them once and for all.

From the second stage on the game was well-nigh impossible for me. Maybe it’s due to the fact I suck at games and become impatient after numerous tries on the same level, which makes me suck even harder. Anyhow, in my opinion there are too many enemies, too many “hope there’s a platform” leaps to maintain interest in Mr. Nutz’s cheesy assignment of saving the world from a new ice age for any significant amount of time.

Of course, once the game gets a little more difficult, Mr. Nutz is always short on nuts, which makes his world-saving case even harder. There are a bunch of other upgrades he can collect, however, such as hearts (for your life meter) and stars (which determine just how much you “truly” finished the stage percentage-wise). Once you die, it’s all the way back to the start of the level. Thankfully, there is a password system available for each of the different stages.

The music is your regular banal platformer repeating sample, but I must say I wasn’t really annoyed by it. The control is adequate but maybe not as tight as one might wish, especially when you’re hit, because it’s hard to avoid another direct hit immediately afterward. Furthermore, once the player assumes the role of Mr. Nutz, there are only two ways of getting rid of enemies: jumping on them or throwing nuts at them.

I know, this all sounds very familiar. If you by now got the idea Mr. Nutz is a total unoriginal rip-off of other, superior, platformers, you’re right. Mr. Nutz is only more poorly executed and doesn’t play as smoothly as most of the games from which it took elements. It is just too boring to keep a player’s interest for more than a short span of time.

How is it possible that such a crappy franchise made its way to so many platforms? Originally started as a concept on the Amiga (under the title of Mr. Nutz: Hoppin’ Mad), Mr. Nutz was released for Super Nintendo, Nintendo Game Boy & Game Boy Color and for the Genesis. After that, it even got a release on the Game Boy Advanced! Originally only released in Europe, American players became aware of Mr. Nutz as well via the GBA version, since that one got an American release as well. A shame really, since it’s only an exact replica of its 16-bit counterpart, without any enhancements whatsoever.

Overall, Mr. Nutz seems only to be remembered for its corny title. The game itself is best described by the adjectives boring, cheesy, unoriginal and too hard. Despite my intentions at the beginning of this review, I can only conclude by saying: nuts to Mr. Nutz.

SCORE: 4 out of 10

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