Mullet Mad Jack – Dream stream

Jack of all trades. Master of gun.

Mullet Mad Jack is like the opposite of Superhot, but just as much fun. No time to slow down. Death is life.

We’re hardly starved of good first person shooters at the moment, especially those retro inspired boomer shooters that are all the rage. There are plenty of great ones, but a lot of them kind of fulfil the same niche. They’re fun, but some really don’t stand out from the crowd. But then we have Mullet Mad Jack. Blisteringly fast-paced and deliriously good fun, Mullet Mad Jack takes a gorgeous 90s anime aesthetic and creates a rocket-propelled FPS game that doesn’t stop being entertaining after the credits roll.

There’s a story here, but like I say with so many of these games, it’s not entirely key to the experience. The plot does go into some subtly satirical directions, as in this future humankind and the internet have merged somehow and everyone is constantly craving dopamine from watching live streams of anything. You are a Moderator, who has been tasked with rescuing a streamer kidnapped by robots. I will say that I did find the idea of a mod having to rescue a female streamer from bots to be pretty funny. 

Mullet Mad Jack
The counter on the right keeps track of your remaining time. Getting hit costs you precious seconds, but you’ll rarely have time to thing about it.

Anyway, like everyone on the internet, you are fuelled by likes. You need that dopamine as much as everyone else, and if you don’t get enough you’ll die. In fact, you’ll die in ten seconds! The only way to get that sweet life injection is through those likes, and the one thing that everyone seems to love on the internet is violence. So you’ll kick down doors, blast drones to pieces, and boot androids into exposed electrical wires just to climb a tower and rescue the girl.

To put this in mechanical terms, you start each floor of the tower with ten seconds to live, and each time you kill a robot you’ll get a couple of seconds added to that life. This means you’re hurtling your way through the level blowing away anything that moves in an effort to make it to the next elevator for a brief reprieve and the offer of an upgrade. Every ten stages gives you a boss and a checkpoint, and dying just means setting you back to that last checkpoint. Considering you’ll complete most floors in under a minute, these checkpoints mean a failure only sets you back a few minutes, and the roguelike nature of Mullet Mad Jack gives you all the more opportunity to experiment with new weapon and perk combinations.

After a chapter, made up of those ten floors, you can unlock a permanent upgrade, such as accessing higher levels of weapon or getting to keep perks after death. The weapons are great fun and feel fantastic to use. Even the basic pistol is very effective, increasing further when you unlock the ammo belt so you never need to reload it. The shotgun is brutal, there’s an incredibly effective plasma rifle, and whilst the swords are a little less useful due to range constraints, they’re still enjoyable tools to play with.

Mullet Mad Jack
Whilst there are a few interesting curveballs, many of the bosses are a little underwhelming. Taking away the time limit mechanic makes this a little more than a standard arena encounter.

You’ll also have access to one-use weapons that kill enemies up close, instantly refilling your health, and most importantly, your foot. Much like Duke Nukem all those years ago, Jack makes good use of his boot to send enemies flying. This is a great tool as you can use it when reloading, and if you kick an enemy into a hazard you’ll kill them instantly. Combine it with your dash and you can race around a room and smash most of its occupants without firing a shot.

Everything feels fantastic to play, from the pace to the gunplay, but the bosses are a bit of a let down. They certainly look the part, but you’ll have the time constraint taken away and have a regular health pool that doesn’t give you all that much feedback when you’re hurt. Additionally, they’re mostly pretty easy, frequently staying in one place whilst you dodge a few simple attacks and demolish them with your upgraded weapon. There are a couple of standouts, such as a sniper battle and one where you play a different game entirely, but the others aren’t nearly as satisfying as the main gameplay. 

There’s also the issue of the roguelike elements not providing all that much variety in the stage design. Once you’ve done a couple of runs, you’ll have seen pretty much every room layout with the only new feature being a different environmental hazard. I’d also have liked a couple more guns. The ones that are there are great, but an explosive weapon of some kind would have been great, perhaps replacing the swords that are a real pain to use most of the time.

Mullet Mad Jack
The art style and use of colour really do nail that 90s anime look.

What’s beyond question though is the visual and sound design. The graphics and animations are gorgeous, with bright neon colours and wonderfully detailed areas. It’s got that 2D sprites in a 3D environment style but with everything looking so crisp and well put together. The music’s brilliant too, especially the synthwave menu music, along with lovely voice acting for all the major characters. There’s even a perk to make Jack taunt his enemies more for the duration of the chapter and I advise everyone to get it. 

Mullet Mad Jack is a fabulous first person shooter that deserves to be played by every fan of the genre. It’s certainly the most fun I’ve had with one for quite some time, and the fast-paced twitch shooting of it doesn’t get old, even after the credits roll. It might be short, but you’ll certainly get all the enjoyment you want from it.

Mullet Mad Jack is available now on PC.

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