Note: This is an original copy of the Neo Geo MVS version of Mutation Nation. It was played on a Neo Geo Entertainment Machine (consolized MVS) and attached with component cables to an HD-tv.
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Players: 1 or 2 (co-op)
Memory Card Support? Yes, if you choose not to continue (or lose all four of your continues if you’re playing in AES mode), you can save your progress and pick up next time at the stage you left off on.
Play Time: About 30 minutes
Quick History: Mutation Nation was released for the Neo Geo MVS (arcade) AES (home console) in 1992. It is one of only a handful of Beat ‘Em Ups made for the Neo Geo.
Quick Story: In Mutation Nation, you play as either one or two heroes, Johnny Hart (P1) or Ricky Jones (P2). It’s the year 20XX, and a mad scientist’s experiments have exposed the city’s residents to a virus, turning many of them into mutants bent on destroying humanity. It’s your job to pummel them into slimy globs of goop and put down the scientist!
Control: Mutation Nation uses a simple control system, with only buttons A and B being used. A punches. B jumps. A+B executes a jumping uppercut for Johnny and a jumping forearm smash for Ricky. Holding A+B and charging your power meter for a few seconds, then releasing it when the bar is full, unleashes your Super Attack, which varies depending upon which ‘power up’ you have equipped. Hitting A repeatedly when near an enemy unleashes a multi-hit combo. Also, moving in close causes your character to automatically grab an enemy, and then pressing A executes a ‘hold’ move, like a knee bash, which ends in the enemy being tossed across the screen.
Power Ups: Scattered in each Area (stage) are small, circular power-up icons labeled A, B, C, or D. Whichever one you pick up is the one you equip, and you can use up to three times. *Note – if you use your charge attack after running out of Power-Ups, you’ll do a separate Super Attack (example: a Windmill Punch for Ricky) that will drain a bit of your health. You can also pick up separate single orange power-ups that replenish your stock (and a bit of your energy bar) of whichever letter you have equipped. Each of the four attacks unleashes a screen clearing animation, and it’s fun to experiment to see which one you find the most effective!
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: Mutation Nation is probably the best Beat ‘Em Up game for the Neo Geo. I’ve played the rest – Ninja Combat, Sengoku, Sengoku 2, Sengoku 3, Burning Fight, Robo Army – none of them offer as much entertainment as this one (although Sengoku 2 and 3 are quite good in my opinion). Mutation Nation, to me, feels the most like the best of all Beat ‘Em Ups, Final Fight. Of course, in this game, you’re battling disgusting mutants, and that makes it stand out quite a bit from Final Fight.
I love the simplified, two-button control scheme in Mutation Nation. There’s not too many moves – there’s just enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the control, and the power up attacks add in variety so you can mix it up every now and then. Also, the two players aren’t carbon copies of each other, each having different animations on their moves.
The length of the game is nearly perfect – not too long, not too short. You’re able to beat it before growing tired of it, which doesn’t always happen with this genre of video games.
The characters are huge and in-your-face, and the soundtrack typically rocks, and it adds some great atmosphere to this dystopian nightmare.
One criticism I’d have of the game, as compared to other Beat ‘Em Ups, is the lack of weapons. No knives, pipes, barrels…no weapons at all in this one. You come to expect that staple in this genre, but it’s simply absent here. Other than that, however, this is an A+ Beat ‘Em Up in terms of presentation, control, and fun. Check it out!