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Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
PC CD ROM PS2 Wii XBox GC
£ £ £39.99 £ £
       
Click for Screenshots

An ichorous green meteor plummets through Earth's atmosphere, fracturing and showering the earth with glowing green space dust that affects all forms of life nearby. Some plant life - like mushrooms and cacti -acquire sentience. At the same time, the green glow twists and mutates other life forms like spiders and roaches, transforming them into semi-intelligent, warlike communities.
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars picks up after the Rise of the Fungi story concludes, players end up under the mushroom cap of PAX, an outcast mushroom trying to find his place in society. Set in a third-person action-platformer, PAX learns he’s different for a very good reason, uncovering new talents he never knew he had.

Using the Wii Remote motion controls, players have PAX running, jumping, gliding and spore-powering his way through level after level of everyday scenarios from a three-inch perspective. Join him in his quest to help the Bolete and Morel tribes repel the attacks of the Lepiota and Amanita armies, all the while discovering what his role is in this wild new world.

DEVELOPER DIARY
WII COMBAT Part 2: Combat Variety
Written by Kain Shin, Lead Programmer/Combat Designer

Input Variety with Combat:
Variety was another core aim of the combat system. Melee combat by itself would eventually feel repetitive and tiresome if the game offered nothing else to the user throughout the game. The combat design of Mushroom Men emphasizes variety in the form of motion (melee), pointing (Spore Punisher), and a combination of the two (Telekinesis-Throw). Telekinesis-Throw allows the player to use the environment to make fights end quicker. It provides an opportunity for a gratifying tactile sensation related to picking something up and throwing it at an enemy. The physics objects in each level have been tuned to apply just enough damage to make medium-sized enemies bleed. Bleeding is an important part of the feedback in the game because it indicates the availability of the third and most lethal attack method in the game: Spore Punisher. Spore Punisher not only destroys the victim completely, but it also has an area of effect that damages nearby enemies. Because it is so powerful, it has to be presented as a finishing move available only after the enemy has been "softened up".

Strategic Weapon Choices:
In addition to three actions for use in combat, weapon variety also adds a reason for having four types of weapons in the game. Not all weapons are good for all situations and that will become apparent in specific situations:

Bashing Weapons:
The player starts out with Bashing weapons, which have a vertical arc but can be a handicap when facing multiple opponents.

Slashing Weapons:
Eventually, the player gets Slashing weapons, which do less damage, but can be useful against multiple opponents with its wide horizontal arc.

Piercing Weapons:
Piercing weapons is a favourite weapon category. The emphasis with piercing weapons is auto-aiming precision against a single enemy, but a master player can really feel like a ninja with its flying thrust. The piercing jump attack is especially useful against flying enemies.

Radical Weapons:
The Radical Weapons use ammo and can run out, but the amount of damage they cause can be the difference between life and death when facing a gang of aggressive enemies.

Miscellaneous Combat Features:
There are three features in the game that are never taught to the user for various reasons and will probably be discovered by the more core players. These three features deserve more than just a mere mention in the instruction manual.

The first unmentioned feature is the passive co-op mode where anyone can pick up the second Wii remote and help out the first player by using reticle actions or mashing the A button to regenerate health on the hero. They call this the roommate feature.

The second unmentioned feature is batting non-physical projectiles back at the shooter. This is a fun thing to do against enemy sage characters that shoot unblockable projectiles at Pax.

The third unmentioned feature is the ability to flick the nunchuck to switch to the last equipped weapon. Switching back and forth between radical weapons and melee weapons can be very convenient in tight situations.

Bosses as Mechanic Reinforcement
Several of the bosses and mini-bosses are included to reinforce a specific mechanic, such as the Telekinesis-Throw (whereby Pax uses his Telekinesis ability on an object and tosses it back at the enemy). Players had the option to use this ability during the game to get the upper hand on an opponent, or could let Player 2 perform this to help them out in the midst of battle. But it was never enforced, as developers didn’t want to force the player to use them. However, with bosses we had a chance to make a puzzle and to encourage the player to use those mechanics. Several of the bosses require this Telekinesis-Throw attack to dispatch. One of the mini-bosses actually acts as a tutorial for the Spore Punisher manoeuvre, flying out the player’s reach until they can successfully execute it.

Boss as Action/Puzzle
Some of the bosses had to be stand-alone encounters, and that allowed the developers to borrow a trope from the Zelda series: the boss as an action/puzzle exercise. In some of these encounters, the player wasn’t strong enough to hurt the boss directly, or couldn’t get at them, and had to use environment components and specific game mechanics to take them out. This framed the whole boss fights as puzzles to be solved, not simply a skill exercise (although there is some of that, surely!).

Bosses as the Level
In the Parking Lot, the player will face not one but FIVE bosses to deal with. The entire area is centred on these encounters, and it will be one of the most well-received experiences of the game. Each of the bosses will use their environment in interesting and unique ways closely tied to them.

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