Sawbuck Gamer

Mushroom Cloud

Target Demo

Mushroom Cloud offers a veritable menu of bombs, but the end result is the same.

By Drew Toal • June 20, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

I understand that the United States military has for some time owned a bomb colloquially known as the “daisy cutter,” a 15,000-pound exclamation point that levels everything within a 600-yard radius. It’s the size of a small car and is considered one of the most destructive conventional weapons in existence.

The daisy cutter would be a middling weapon in your Mushroom Cloud arsenal, where leveling islands and small villages unlocks increasingly terrifying tools of war. The player gets three bombs per round and must use them surgically to complete the objectives and advance the round. For instance, you might use a piercing bomb to put a hole in a bunker and then drop a different bomb inside the hole to level the entire thing. Or maybe it’s napalm that’s called for, to incinerate those trees that probably hate America for its freedoms.

There’s an early level where you must explode three barrels without damaging the buildings to which they’re attached. It’s surprisingly hard to control the explosion in a way that doesn’t nick the structures. Instead of increasing the difficulty thereafter, though, the game settles into a rhythm where each stage becomes a platform for showing off one of the 18 different weapons, and none of the puzzles are quite as challenging as that pinpoint barrel-busting exercise. Still, some of the advanced ordnance is fun to play with: The oxidant bomb washes away whatever it touches in a mesmerizing wave of blue pixels, and an acid bomb melts everything into an indistinct primordial ooze. Let’s hope no one at the Pentagon comes across this one.

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2 Responses to “Target Demo”

  1. Awww, man.  I’m so used to parodic titles/concepts in indie gaming these days that I thought from the title it was a post-apocalyptic title set in the Mushroom Kingdom–Super Mario meets Fallout

    A pair of twin plumbers comb a landscape of ramshackle pipes and ruined brick buildings for edible mushrooms and flowers, while avoiding Bowser and his mutant armies of Goombalurks, and the Enclave’s metal-suited Hammer Brothers.  Perks include “Our Princess Is In Another Vault” (find twice the loot in underground areas) and “It’sa Meee!” (Charisma bonus toward other characters wearing overalls).  And I can hear the introductory voice-over now:

    “Wario.  Wario never changes.”

  2. stepped_pyramids says:

    “Select NAPALM and drop it on the village”

    *hums Ride Of The Valkyries*