E3 '07: Mushroom Men First Look

Red Fly Studio introduces us to the concept of a civil war between fungi during our meeting (not) at E3 2007.

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During a recent visit to the Gamecock Media Group's EiEiO event in Santa Monica we had an opportunity to meet with representatives of Red Fly Studio, who are currently working on Mushroom Men games for both the Wii and the DS. The two games are quite different, but both are set in a world where mushrooms are sentient, mobile beings who, in a bold display of their humanlike intelligence, have become embroiled in a civil war. The edible mushrooms are at war with the poisonous ones, and you'll be playing this third-person action game as one of the edibles.

The Wii version of Mushroom Men wasn't playable at the event, but we were invited to check out plenty of concept art of the game as well as some early gameplay footage. The mushrooms' battleground is here on Earth, but since they're only a few inches tall those theatres of war take the form of gardens and other locales in which everyday objects become huge environmental features. We saw a mushroom exploring a garden shed with the aid of a sticky-hand toy, which was employed as a grappling hook, and its own mushroom cap, with which it was able to glide. And in one sequence we saw a mushroom exploring a mole tunnel in which some kind of railway had been constructed using clothes pegs.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

Scavenged items like the clothes pegs will purportedly play heavily into Mushroom Men's combat system, which incorporates what the developer is calling a "scav" system. We're told that the system will give you the freedom to design your own weapons using everyday human objects that you find as you progress through the game. Examples of the kinds of weapons that you might be able to construct include razorblade axes, matchstick-and-jack flails, and various lethal-looking devices that incorporate staple removers, chewing gum, pieces of string, and all kinds of other garbage in their workings. Your enemies won't just be poisonous mushrooms, incidentally, other types plants and vegetables appeared in some of the concept art, and we're told that you'll also have to deal with rats, spiders, and the like.

Since Mushroom Men isn't scheduled for release until late 2008, details of its storyline are unsurprisingly being kept under wraps for the moment. We can tell you that your character is something of a misfit who becomes embroiled in the conflict quite reluctantly, and we can also tell you that the developers are citing the games of Lorne Lanning's Oddworld Inhabitants as major influences, but that's about it. When we asked about the Wii game's controls we were told that that the development team currently has around eight different setups in testing and that, while it doesn't plan to shoehorn any unnecessarily crazy gesture-based controls in just for the sake of it, you'll likely have the option to move the Wii Remote when you want to swing your weapon, for example.

The DS game, which we were allowed to play an early version of for a few minutes, also doesn't appear to make unnecessary use of Nintendo's unusual controller options. A side-scrolling action game with 3D visuals, Mushroom Men on the DS will again see you assuming the role of an edible mushroom man--using the D pad to move, and three of the face buttons to perform jumps, melee attacks, and ranged attacks, respectively. The level that we played saw us attempting to navigate an area in a bathroom, complete with a rubber duck that we could ride on the back of, and various flying insects who seemed intent on hurting us.

Both the Wii and DS versions of Mushroom Men are scheduled for release in the second half of 2008. We look forward to bringing you more information on them as soon as it becomes available.

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