I’ve Seen ‘Mushroom Men”s Hidden Fungi Civil War

“Mushroom Men” may very well have the strangest setting of any Nintendo DS game I’ve played. I have to give Red Fly Studio credit for that.

A comet flies over the Earth, dropping bits of alien mist all over the world. The mist doesn’t affect the humans, so everyone goes on as if nothing happened. But in the world of the mushrooms, everything’s changed. They’ve all come to life, and now it’s war.

“Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi” acts as a prequel to the upcoming Wii version, “Mushroom Men: Spore Wars.” While I haven’t seen that one yet, now I want to.

At first glance, “Mushroom Men”’s a standard side-scroller, but starts opening itself up once you start collecting items. “Mushroom Men” encourages experimentation to craft new weapons for the main character. A piece of wood might be a decent weapon on its own, but when combined with two accessories, it suddenly becomes an ultra-powerful death machine.

Well, as much as a piece of wood can be an ultra-powerful death machine for a mushroom, anyway.

When playing “Mushroom Men,” be prepared to make use of all the abilities of the DS hardware. The game is almost too much to juggle at once. You’re manipulating the top and bottom screens, which can flip when commanded, using the stylus and the A/B/X/Y buttons. I’ve found that I prefer a DS title pick a side — stylus control or A/B/X/Y — because it makes the handheld a pain to control for extended periods of time.

Most of the stylus controls are limited to manipulating your equipment screens, but there are gameplay implementations, as well. Early on, you develop the ability to swing from one part of the environment to the other and have to draw the rope’s connection. Additionally, magic attacks are assigned to the stylus and require memorization of different patterns.

The build I was messing around with was a little too difficult. Your character has two main physical attacks: a standard forward swing and a more powerful, slower overhead swing. One of “Mushroom Men”’s most popular enemies is bees, but they’re rather irritating to take out. They managed to kill me more than once. Bees! Thankfully, I’m told that focus tests have found the same issue and the bees will be made gentler before release.

I get the feeling that “Mushroom Men”’s bizarrely charming setting has more to offer, but I didn’t have a chance to check out more than the first two levels. So far, I’m interested but need to see more. And I want to see the Wii version, too.

Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? Maybe you know the secret of the Mushroom Men. Drop me an e-mail.