MUD, what does it stand for? It’s a mystery. The physical instruction manual – a rare thing for a Vita title – is literally a single folded piece of paper, which details absolutely nothing about the game. At all. There’s just legal information, safety precautions and phone numbers to ring in case your soufflé isn’t quite up to scratch. The digital manual doesn’t help either; it just mentions Monster energy drink a lot.
Actually, perhaps MUD is short for ‘Monster’s Urethra Declogger’. There are in-game posters and signs for it everywhere, an entire mode called the Monster something something cup, and you even gulp down cans of the bloody stuff in the middle of a race for speed boosts. Really now. At least be a bit creative with this obnoxious advertising and let me race as a Monster bike with some googly eyes, spewing liquid green heart attacks all over the track as Kerri-Anne Kennerley shakes her head in disapproval from the sky.
So I pretty much got this game to scratch a weird game-related itch, and it worked wonders. Skiddin’ around corners, falling off my bike with amazingly sloth-like ragdoll physics, tearing down hills and flinging off ramps with a reckless disregard for gravity. It feels good, because it’s exactly the sort of game I was in the mood for. Well, actually, it might have been for something more along the lines of Dave Mirra BMX 2, but whatever. Bikes. MUD still manages to capture that ‘extreme sports’ feeling which almost completely skipped this generation (RIP Acclaim and Dave Mirra’s XXX-sized breasts). There’s even a familiar lineup of pop-punk and heavy rock music!
The main game has you competing in a world tour thing, earning money/points to unlock essentially everything – from the next race, skill level upgrades, different types of energy drink (seriously) and exciting new advertisements to dress your character in.
There are four different dickheads to race as, but sadly three of them are high-class prostitutes, requiring a lot of money to play with. Events include the standard ‘come first or don’t bother’ races, checkpoint time trials and elimination rounds where a countdown clock – possibly from NiGHTS – apparently murders whoever is coming last every ten seconds or so.
Stunt levels appear every now and then, plopping you in an arena filled with jumps and crazy shit. These are really welcome, as MUD actually has a pretty in-depth trick system, yet you’re not allowed to use any of them during a race. They only work in the dedicated stunt challenges. Not really sure why; did the development team think that’d be too unrealistic at the last second? “Oh, no, we can’t have players pulling off Extreme 720 Flop Factory flips as they compete in a race! That would be absurd! JOHNSON, HAVE YOU FINISHED CODING THE MONSTER ENERGY DRINK BOOST BUTTON YET?”
The only fancy thing you can do in a race is something called ‘scrubbing’, where you hop off the seat in midair and tilt your bike sideways. So gnarly rad. If you get back on and manage to land okay, you’re rewarded with a short little boost of speed.
Only problem is, performing a scrub feels incredibly sluggish. Unless it’s a massive jump, I found that there’s usually not enough time to get back on before slamming into the ground and breaking all seven of my legs. The payoff isn’t particularly worth it anyway. I mean, I’m not fussed! The game is enjoyable without this hassle of doing the dishes.
MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship is also on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but I went with the Vita port because it was much cheaper (spoiler: it probably bombed something shocking), and seemed fitting to have the option of playing this whilst on the toilet.
I haven’t tried the console version and have no intention to, but it appears to have surface deformation – which the Vita game lacks – so the bikes leave actual tracks in the mud. That’s pretty cool. I remember thinking how amazing it was when SEGA Rally introduced that ‘next-gen’ feature back in 2007. Then barely any other developer bothered to try and implement it ever again. Blue skies.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my caffeine fix from a delicious cup of coffee.™®©