Mole Mania puts players in the shoes of Muddy the mole. Muddy is on a quest to save his wife and kids from the evil farmer Jinbe, who has kidnapped them and demands that you come and visit him in Jinbe Land if you “want ’em back”.
Muddy has to navigate through a number of puzzle levels and defeat Jinbe’s ‘seven lackeys’. Muddy can push, pull and throw a black ball to block or stop enemies to avoid any danger. The ball is also used to smash through doors to proceed. The pull mechanic is quite entertaining as Muddy seems to go super saiyan and starts glowing before flinging the ball in the opposite direction. Being a mole, you’re also equipped with the ability to dig and submerge yourself underground creating a new path and emerging elsewhere within the level. Believe it or not but the key most of the time is figuring out where to dig and re-emerge. Obstacles are set all across the levels blocking Muddy from proceeding. Some of the obstacles include tree stumps. Diving underground though Muddy can navigate a lot faster past these obstacles and re-surface near the exit to proceed. However there are obstacles underground as well and this is where the fun begins. Having to navigate both above ground and underneath can become quite complicated and frustrating, slowing the player’s progress to the exit. And re-emerging underneath an enemy can be quite damaging as well although Muddy is able to stick his head out to peep above ground.
Thankfully the game does provide multiple ways of regaining your character’s life which is displayed as a heart. Players are able to either collect heart pieces or drop a certain amount of cabbages down a hole. Oh, and cabbages can also take out enemies. Who said that vegetables aren’t good? The puzzle aspect of this title might seem simple at first but as you proceed the game forces you start using your noggin a lot more. And if you make a mistake and perhaps create way too many holes above ground all you have to do is return to the previous screen and go back to the current screen to reset everything. However this tip and a ton of others are provided within the game through many boards placed throughout levels where an old wise mole provides his wisdom.
Although the game’s puzzles are rewarding once you’ve figured out how to complete them, none are more rewarding than the boss battles which in themselves are puzzles as well. For instance the first boss, Kangaroon, which obviously from its name is a Kangaroo, hops all over the field and since Muddy doesn’t have any attacks, it’s up to you to navigate away from Kangaroon’s jumps and utilise the drawing pins that are placed on the ground by tracking Kangaroon’s shadow and placing it underneath it…needless to say I made my “point” with the boss.
All in all this puzzle game felt a lot more like an action puzzler was an incredible amount of fun. I found myself often restarting certain levels and also dying a lot, especially when trying to figure out the key to defeating the boss. The music is charming and the tiny piece of storyline keeps the player going. The later levels add a ton of different items to utilise as well whilst trying to navigate to the exit including a few items that can plug holes. I will be the first to admit that I did dive into this due to Shigeru Miyamoto being the producer on this title, but once I began I couldn’t stop myself and kept going until each level was completed. This Blast from the Past is definitely a must try.