This quaint little RTS developed by Creat Studios and published by Zillion Whales was originally released back in 2009 for PS3, and came later to iOS and Android in 2013. This year, they’ve also given it a PC release in preparation (I assume) for Mushroom Wars 2, which set to release sometime before the start of 2017. Mushroom Wars is still a great little time waster, but unfortunately that’s all I feel it’s cracked up to be.
Not quite so big on story, cutscenes play out as if someone had made animation paths similar to how you would in Microsoft Powerpoint, and with no dialogue or any clear direction, it’s never quite explained why you’re flinging mushroom people at other mushroom people. There’s not much to be said about graphics here, and the only real differences are the textures being a higher resolution than previous releases.
The main component of the game is of course how you fling the mushroom people at each other. Each side starts off with some upgradable villages which generate the people. Once upgraded, they generate them faster, meaning you can send more out to bolster your defenses, or go on the attack. To take over a building, you must overcome the number of mushroom people said building has. Once the enemies numbers are brought to zero, you will then occupy the building, and be able to strengthen it’s defenses by sending more mushroom people so the enemy can’t overcome you back. To send troops, all you have to do is select a source (or multiple), an amount (25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%), and a destination.
It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. Games consist mostly of stockpiling mushrooms, sending them out to in-danger allies or enemies, rinsing and repeating. A few mechanics do increase the strategy, but only to an extent. Towers are buildings that don’t generate mushroom people, but fire at incoming enemies in a radius, so a player can create better defenses. Forges increase the defense and attack of all your mushroom people, making them a useful asset as well, however they again don’t generate mushrooms. These buildings may already exist on the map, but it’s possible to upgrade a normal village into one, sacrificing more troops for buffed/defended troops. On top of that is a morale system, giving your mushrooms extra speed, defence, and attack, just for defending and attacking. This gives an incentive to never stand still.
With the game being so old, I assume the developers thought that everyone would know how to play, and the tutorials are stretched over the campaign, still appearing when 50% through it. Not only this, but there are no actual explanation of the controls or difficulties, forcing the player to search in the menus and try them out. From what I can understand, Easy lets you see how many mushroom people your enemy has garrisoned in a building, and tells you when you can upgrade one of your own, while hard doesn’t. I can’t see any other changes.
The campaign feels like it is just training for the “real” intention of Mushroom Wars, the multiplayer. Unfortunately with a lack of any kind of crossplay which I understand is difficult for an indie dev, multiplayer is dead out the gates. Players can also abandon mid battle, and without any perceived punishment.
I can appreciate Mushroom Wars for what it is; a PS3 ported to mobile ported to PC, but I just can’t get behind the $11.99 price for something that is much more at home on my phone for FREE. The simple RTS mechanics work as a stage based time waster on the go if you don’t own a handheld, but it just simple doesn’t work for PC.
Clarke’s Suggestions: If you do want to give the game a go, be sure to download the mobile version. It’s exactly the same bar microtransactions needed for online play, but the multiplayer is dead on PC anyway, and you’re bound to find a bigger playerbase on the app.