Oh the humanity! Fungi has risen. Get if off of me!

User Rating: 3.5 | Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi DS
early impressions ...

If you're the kind of guy who will judge the game from its looks, you'll mistake this game for being good. But everything in this game is exactly the opposite. While playing the game, it reminded me a lot of the game called Insecticide. Not because I saw the "gamecock" logo at the beginning of it (cause I wasn't actually paying attention when the logos showed up) but because the game is filled with bugs like mosquitoes and cockroaches. It starts off with a boring slideshow type introduction, giving you an idea that a meteor struck our planet causing stuff like mushrooms and bugs to act like humans and start raging war against each other. You'll then get the usual text based tutorial wherein you're given instructions on how to perform the basic moves in the game. Unlike with most titles where the flaws can be seen after spending at least an hour with it, the issues with this one can be seen just a few seconds after the tutorial starts rolling.

The first issue with the game is that the default controller configuration is nothing like what most of us are used to. The jump button is on the L and R, blocking is done by pressing the "down" key, Y and A to attack, and at first B and X does nothing (but can be used later for long-range weapons). There is also a special attack wherein you need to draw something on the touchscreen to execute it. That is probably the worst way of assigning buttons on a game. Thankfully, the options menu enables you to select 1 out of 4 possible button configurations but there's no option to use only the d-pad and buttons. So as you play the game you'll find yourself switching from the buttons and the touchscreen. What makes it even worse is that the tutorial doesn't accept the button "A" as the move forward key, and forces you to press the "next" icon on the screen. I haven't had this much of a problem with a game after spending just a few minutes with it since ... since ... since never.

If you're going to be able to live with the irritating control scheme then you'll be happy to hear that there's a bunch more issues with this game. Like the need to switch the screens back-and-forth ala Zelda PH. If in Zelda PH you need to sometimes switch the information on the screen to mark a location on the map for example, here you need to do that to change your weapons. Yes, you cannot change weapons by pressing a button and you need to use your stylus and highlight a menu on the top portion of the touchscreen. It is however limited to only 4 items and if the weapon you want to use is not available there, you need to swap screens just to pick a weapon! But, time doesn't stop while you're doing that so you are vulnerable to attacks. I discovered that the easiest way to play this game is to use the top screen to display the game while the menu is at the bottom. However you're still going to be forced to swap screen when you need to use special abilities or whatever is assigned on the touchscreen.

There's an option to rappel in the game but again, you need the stylus to highlight the rappel icon on the touchscreen and drag it to where you want for it to cling on to. And if you forgive the game for again not just assigning a button to use that item, then it's finding places where to use it that's going to bite you. Even on the tutorial level you're going to be asked to rappel on a branch that is not even showing up on the screen. And you need to move the camera up, click on the rappel icon, and drag it to a portion where the "anchor" icon turns green and voila! You'll find yourself hanging on a rope. Easy isn't it?

The game also have issues with the map. The map is not all that detailed and trying to figure out where exactly you need to go can sometimes become a challenge. Combat is boring as well, and everytime you kill something, the top screen gives out an information on the bug that you just killed for 1-2secs which means you have to wait before you'll be able to check out where you need to go since it removed the map out of view. And when you already have a long-range weapon like a slingshot for example. Once you drag it as your assigned long-range weapon, you might not be able to use it until you find some ammo for it. Once you have the ammo, you'll probably get surprised that you're still getting the same "no ammo" message when you try and use it. Only to discover later that you again need to drag the ammo beside the slingshot for it to work! How tedious is that?

The developers tried to make the game a bit more interesting by enabling the players combine items and create weapons. But the feature feels half baked to me. Merging a pencil and a pencil sharpener to have a sharpened pencil as a weapon is just not my kind of thing. There are also quite a number of items that can be used as a weapon, but they more or less have the same damage level and the only obvious difference between them is their appearance.

The sound of the insects are unrealistic. A hovering mosquito sounds like a UFO trying to lift-off. Background music is also boring.

The graphics however like what I mentioned earlier looks nice. The environment is detailed, but some animation and things that pop-out are not at all convincing. Like shooting a slingshot that looks like is composed of only a single frame of animation. And trying to open up a box for example. The items that are supposed to have came out of it only shows up after about a second that the box is already out of the screen. So you'll always think that the box that you just opened up is empty, and all of a sudden something will pop-up on the screen. However, even though the graphics look nice, their selection of items to place on the environment is on the weird side. Like mosquitoes using a shoe hanging from a branch as their nest.

The entire time that I was creating a review for this game, I was trying my best not to sound too harsh about it. But I couldn't find anything good to say about this game other than the graphics. There's quite a good surge of games coming out on the DS within the past few weeks/months and I really recommend looking elsewhere. Until the time Gamecock discovers that not because there are only 6 buttons on the DS means that once its filled, you're forced to using the touchscreen (we can hold down the shoulder button plus another key to activate an items menu people!) and come up with more exciting gameplay. Then I guess their games will continue to get scores that is lower than 5.0. And although there might be more to this game than what I've seen so far. I felt like I would probably end up giving it an even lower score if I continue spending more time playing with it.

.:My reviews are only as good as everyone else's. Take every single one of them with a grain of salt:.