Taking a trip back to the early 90”s will reveal that in the world of console gaming, platformers were king. The era was dominated Sega and Nintendo. There was Mario. There was Sonic. Then there was everyone else. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie; so many video game studios took a crack at releasing their own platforming mascots. Ocean Software took a stab, and “Mr. Nutz” is the game they came up with. Originally the title was developed for the Commodore Amiga, but Ocean decided to go main stream with releases on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo Game Boy, and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive. A sequel was developed for the Genesis and the Amiga; but the Genesis version was canceled and the game ironically wound up as an Amiga exclusive. “Mr. Nutz” would later be ported to the Game Boy color and Game Boy advance, with the GBA version featuring a couple of exclusive levels. He we will be highlighting the SNES version of the game.
You play a squirrel, appropriately named Mr. Nutz, who must stop the evil Mr. Blizzard from freezing the planet. Now, you would think that all the creatures of earth would want to stop Mr. Blizzard’s diabolical plan; but this is not the case, as everything from birds and bats to grapes and light bulbs are hell-bent on stopping you from saving them.
At its core, Mr. Nutz is a pretty basic platformer. You can run and jump, collect items, and kill enemies. On top of this, Mr. Nutz also has a couple extra attacks: he can swing his tail and use collected nuts as ammunition. Control may feel a little loose to those used to the tightness of Super Mario, but it is quickly learned and really quite intuitive. There are also multiple control setups to choose from, so it is a pretty easy game to pick up and play. What is more important than the ability to control your character? Not much, but having levels that at least make sense is a close second.
Unfortunately, level design is average at best. The worst is easily the “Adventure Park” stages. Basically you pick a tree, climb as high as you can, maybe take a lift to another, and hope you are going the right way. To be fair, the other levels are much better designed, and include pretty awesome lava and cloud stages, as well as a hilarious tour of some dude’s house and plumage system. The setting of most levels is also quite nice, with catchy music adding a little extra to the atmosphere.
Now, if you want to have a realistic chance of making it through this game, you must learn how to use your nuts. At first you will see a lot of nuts. But as you progress you must hold onto your nuts more and more. You must become a ninja squirrel nut master. You must hurl your nuts into the faces of your enemies without any remorse. You must grab nuts whenever you can. You must utilize all that they contain. I know you are up to the challenge.
Now, let’s get back on track. How about the Boss battles! Well they are honestly quite creative. Some are comical, such as the hillbilly spider and the ogre with the eyeball projectiles. They are all entertaining and reasonably difficult… With the exception of Mr. Blizzard himself. All I can say is ‘good luck’. If you make it to him, you will die. You will likely die multiple times. You may get game over. Imagine you are situated on a platform with a hole behind you and a hole in front of you. And then he blows. He shoots wind and forces you back. You must jump to stay on the platform. Jump too soon and you will jump in the hole in front of you. Jump too late and you will jump in the hole behind you. However, the game offers you infinite continues, so failure is not an option.
Now, this also brings me to one of the biggest drawbacks of this game: the lack of the save feature. There isn’t even a password system. Turn that system off and you must start all the way back at the beginning. Now, it should be noted that all other versions of the game DO include a password system. Why doesn’t the SNES version? Beyond me; this is 1994. This is in the prime of the SNES era: save features are now the norm and password systems have been around on Nintendo platforms for a decade. Thankfully, the game is only a couple hours long and this doesn’t present as big of an issue as it could have.
At the end of the day, Mr. Nutz is a victim of circumstance. Lost in the seemingly endless supply of wannabe mascots and lack-luster platformers, it is easy to overlook. Sure, the level design has some flaws, and you will have to beat the game in a single sitting, but the quirky enemies, solid boss battles and fluid controls amount to a solid platformer. Besides, what game offers you the chance to shoot nuts at those who oppose you? The game’s nutz, Mr. Nutz.