Version tested: Retro
Yet another Denton Design game that I was enormously fond of on the C64, and proof that Ocean was just as likely to release quirky, original new IP as it was to obsessively releasing licensed cash-in rubbish.
Described in the hallowed pages of Zzap as "one of the weirdest shoot 'em ups I've ever seen", it didn't stop the game from scooping 90 per cent back then, and being raved about as "a new an exciting concept". More than two decades on, Mutants is still bloody weird, and in many ways feels just as fresh and interesting as it did back then - largely because no-one else has really done anything like it since.
The storyline's a bit pointlessly convoluted, but the basic gist was that 15 monsters are trapped in the depths of space, and it's up to you to guide a little spaceship around and attempt to find the self-destruct sequence located within each 'pen'. Along the way, you have to destroy any 'mutants' that get in your way, and do your best not to get shot. Obviously.
What's not so obvious is the presentational style, offering a psychedelic, almost trippy front end, with obscure-looking icons belying the otherwise refined simplicity of the gameplay. As with so many games in the Ocean canon, the music was a real highlight, too, with Fred Grey providing a typically excellent composition that was up there with his efforts for Shadowfire, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Nodes of Yesod. I do love my SID music, oh boy. Does that make me an uber geek?
Admittedly Mutants isn't the most obvious game to make our line-up, but that's part of its charm. It's a pretty tough, frantic game which the general public had a tough time getting into, but if you want to find something superb that's a little off-the-wall that has faded into total obscurity, Mutants fits the bill perfectly. I dread to think how many it actually sold, though...
8 / 10