In this modern era of video games, due to the success of the Call of Duty series there have been plenty of games copying the military FPS formula, but back in the early 90s every other developer tried to make the next Sonic or Mario. For better or worse, there were dozens of platform games starring cartoon mascot characters on the SNES and Megadrive. Naturally they weren't as commercially successful as the speedy blue hedgehog and the Italian plumber, thus they were lost in the annals of gaming history. Whether or not these characters deserve to make a comeback is a debate for another time, though the genre itself has made a comeback with the success of New Super Mario Bros and Rayman Origins, not to mention countless indie titles. In the meantime, allow me to take you back in time with one of the more obscure mascot platform games of the early 90s, a little game called Mr. Nutz.
The titular Mr. Nutz is a cartoon squirrel on a quest to stop an abominable snowman from covering the world in an endless winter. As with most 90s platform games, the plot is merely there to loosely give context, taking a back seat to game-play. As well as being able to jump (obviously), Mr. Nutz can also attack enemies by sweeping his tail at them and by throwing acorns at them. In early levels there are plenty of acorns to collect, but in later levels they are harder to come by, meaning the player has to be conservative with them. While the levels are typically linear, the level design is more varied than the usual left-to-right fare and also rewards thorough exploration. The levels themselves are a mix of typical platform levels (fire world, cloud world, ice world), there are a couple of unique levels too. My personal favourite is the cottage, where elements such as tables and chandeliers are huge compared to Mr. Nutz (he is a squirrel, after all) While the enemies fit the theme of each level, they're all cosmetic variants of the same enemy types – flying enemies, projectile enemies, “goombas”, etc.
Even for the time, the graphics are great. They give the game a cartoon, almost Disney-like vibe. The character sprites are large and detailed with serviceable animation. The level backgrounds are equally appealing. The music for the game is fantastic, setting a suitable mood for each level with catchy tunes. There is one major downside I must address, a problem with many games from the era - a lack of a save feature. This is a game you'll have to complete in one session (or if your electric bill can handle it, leaving the console on overnight).
Overall, “Mr. Nutz” is one of the better Mario clones from the golden age of platform games, with the level design and graphics providing the game with its own unique identity. If you're into old school platform games, it's definitely worth a look. It is available on the SNES and the Megadrive