Mushroom Wars may be Small, but it’s Still a Fungi
As I crawled out from under the rock I live under, I shielded my eyes from the blinding sun. My eyes adjusted I found a copy of Mushroom Wars in my inbox. I’m a few years late considering the game has been out for years on iOS and PS3, but ignoring all that, let me tell you about how good this game is. Arriving on Steam and ready for the PC crowd, Mushroom Wars is one of the best RTS titles I’ve played in years. Between the simple design and addictive gameplay I couldn’t get enough.
Mushroom Wars strips the RTS formula down to its barebones. Rather than commanding large armies and multiple building trees, all you can do is upgrade your buildings, attack enemy buildings, and in the late game you can rebuild your forts into three different options. One building creates units, another is a turret, and the other strengthens your units. In place of long memorization is a fast-track to the dexterity and number crunching bigger RTS games have, but after a few matches I felt like I was a competent player of Mushroom Wars.
The graphics make the game look cute, and this may turn some players off, but honestly it’s a total misrepresentation of the “hardcore” gameplay that exists within the title. Coming off of a game like Total War: Warhammer, it’s crazy to see how Mushroom Wars compared. I love the expansive universe offered in Total War, but Mushroom Wars had me hooked almost immediately. It’s always felt right for me to use a mouse for RTS titles. I’m sure touch screen on iOS works well, and maybe even the controller on PS3 works fine, but this felt like the best way to experience Mushroom Wars.
There doesn’t appear to be a ton of game here. There are thirty missions in the campaign, another pile of maps in skirmish mode, and online multiplayer to satiate, though. I use the word “appear” strongly. Even though there are 30 missions that only take a few minutes I still managed to crank twelve hours or so into Mushroom Wars, despite barely touching the skirmish and multiplayer modes. The difficulty is curved in such a way that after repeated attempts I had to keep trying. I’m the type of gamer that normally only handles one major death and I’ll call it quits for the night. Mushroom Wars had me fighting my frustration and trying over and over again with various strategies to pass each level.
It’s not limited to “destroy the enemy” type missions, either. There were king of the hill/capture the flag type modes where all you had to do was capture specific buildings and/or hold onto them for a certain amount of time. Taking the whole map is exciting, though, but it’s nice to have options in a game this small.
On the down side, multiplayer didn’t get implemented until later in the game’s launch week, and things are looking barren on the servers. This is an injustice, as Mushroom Wars deserves to have a competitive scene. This would really make the longevity of the game easily extend past its price point, but unless a bunch of gamers are convinced at once, I’m afraid it won’t take off like it should.
Mushroom Wars may not have the variety of the older RTS games I’m familiar with, but it plays just as hard. You’re not dropping nukes on anyone’s head, but the precise nature of the combat and the way the game plays make it just as competitive and deep a contender in the RTS genre. It may look and maybe even play like a “my first strategy” title, but that’s not a bad thing. There isn’t much else to say about this title except I put this review off because I was so busy constantly playing it. Mushroom Wars is a blast and you should absolutely check it off even if you have the smallest interest in strategy titles.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: iOS, PS3, Steam (Reviewed); Publisher: Zillion Whales ; Developer: Zillion Whales, Creat Studios ; Players: 1 (1-4 online) ; Released: April 7th, 2016 ;
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.