Throwback Thursday: Mole Mania

Whoa, am I committing to a regular feature every Thursday? Hardly. But, I’m certainly willing to try! Welcome to Throwback Thursday, the day where I talk about something old, and possibly yell at you to get off my lawn.

Released in 1997 for the Game Boy, Mole Mania was one of those Nintendo made games that never ‘caught on’. Put simply, Muddy Mole never achieved the same stature as Nintendo’s more revered franchises. Hell, Pit stands a better chance of being recognized, and 99% of people will call him Kid Icarus. Uni-browed protagonists was not what the people were craving at the time.

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But with box art like that, who could muster enough interest to bother playing it? Who wants to play as a protagonist that looks that clueless?

With his wife and children kidnapped by an evil completely sane farmer (really, he’s just trying to make a living), Muddy sets out on an adventure to burrow through the wrong doers skull.

While this all sounds rather expected, it’s the gameplay that’s key to Mole Mania‘s acclaim. Players engage the world at two levels; above ground and below ground. Each world is one massive labyrinth of puzzle screens. Up top, enemies trot around, hindering Muddy’s progress to the exit. By digging underground, Muddy is able to maneuver in ways he couldn’t previously. Where he decides to surface carries consequences, good and bad. Done properly, Muddy can move obstacles and enemies, clearing his way to the exit. If you act rashly, the mole hole you’ve created may be your downfall, halting all progress. IT’S THE DARK SOULS OF MOLE GAMES…DARK MOLES.

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What I enjoy so much is how instantly your actions affect the environment. Many games tackle the concept of parallel worlds, but to witness your changes takes time. Often there’s some form of travel necessary, a need to get to a warp point and trudge yourself back to the initial location in this ‘mirror world’. But your impact on Mole Mania‘s world is instantaneous. You can quickly tell if you’ve made the correct move or not. It’s a joy, and does a great job of taking a single Zelda-esque mechanic and stretching it across one entire game

Oh, and the old mole who helps you out from time to time is a real jerk. He’s happy to help, but only once. Bug him enough and..well, let me show you.

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Now that is awesome. Think about it, in 1997, Nintendo would end your game if you dared talk to an old man too much! How nuts is that? This is the same Nintendo that now suggests taking a nap if you’ve played for 15 straight minutes.

Anyways, check out Mole Mania. It’s on the 3DS Virtual Console, is worth $1000, but sells for less. Sweet deal.

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