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Packaging for the European Mega Drive version
|Producer(s)||Pierre Adane, Philippe Dessoly|
|Designer(s)||Philippe Dessoly (Character Designer, Graphist), Pierre Adane|
|Genre(s)||Side-scrolling, 2D platform|
Mr. Nutz is a side scrolling, 2D platformer video game published by Ocean Software. It was first released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in late 1993, in Europe, then was released in North America and Japan in 1994. The release for the Sega Mega Drive and Game Boy came in late 1994, then Sega Channel in 1995, followed by Game Boy Color in 1999, and Game Boy Advance remake in 2001.
The player controls the one player character, Mr. Nutz, an anthropomorphic red squirrel wearing chucks, gloves, a vest, and a cap, through six themed levels. The end goal is to stop Mr. Blizzard, a yeti, who is the final boss and is trying to take over the world by using his magic powers to turn it into a mass of ice. Ammunition, in the form of nuts, can be collected and thrown at enemies.
Ocean originally planned to release this game also for the Commodore Amiga. After the original conversion plan was shelved, Ocean eventually released in 1994 a different game on the Amiga under the name Mr. Nutz: Hoppin' Mad. Developed by Neon Studios, it featured the same titular character but with different, faster and more wide-open gameplay, unrelated levels and enemies, another story, and a large overworld map instead of a linear path to follow in a mini-map. This game was also going to be released for the Sega Mega Drive in 1995 as Mr Nutz 2, but it got shelved. A playable build exists, leaked in the form of source code and compiled upon.
After the closure of Ocean France, Philippe Dessoly (character designer, graphics artist) and Pierre Adane (programmer) decided to work independently on a platform game for Amiga. It was shown to Ocean Software, which agreed to publish the game on the Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis instead of Amiga, because the console market was safer against piracy and more profitable compared to personal computers. Ocean was also in charge of porting the game to console. The working title was Squirrel's Game. The developers changed it into Mr. Nuts, but this was considered too pejorative and vague by the English publisher. The final title became Mr. Nutz, replacing the "s" with a "z". Mr. Nutz was drawn in a Disney style in early sketches; Pierre Adane advised Dessoly to make the character less "cute" and more "cool" to appeal to young gamers. The development took 18 months for the Super NES version and 6 months for the Mega Drive version. Some levels, such as a water stage, were removed in the final version. The Game Boy Advance remake contains them as bonus levels.
Mr. Nutz can run, jump, swim in some levels and collect items. The character can jump on most enemies, strike them with his tail, or throw nuts he has collected at them to defeat them. Apart from bosses, most enemies can be killed with one strike. As with many games, contact with hazards and enemies that does not sufficiently defeat them results in losing one unit of health followed by a few seconds of invulnerability as the character sprite flashes. No version contains a time limit, the player may spend as long as they wish on each level, although some versions of the game will reward the player with bonus points for clearing a level quickly. Coins found along the way will not only give points and bonuses during gameplay, but the total amount of coins collected in a level will determine the player's completion bonus at the end of a level. Coins, health, and extra lives are often hidden throughout the levels.
The player starts with a number of lives and health units, the amounts are different depending on difficulty and port. Losing all health results in losing one life and the player must restart at the beginning of the current journey. After losing all lives the player may choose to accept a game over or to continue but must then restart at the beginning of the first journey in the current stage with the default lives and health and zero nuts, coins and score. The player may continue an infinite number of times.
In all versions except the original Super NES version, passwords are shown when the player reaches certain levels and can be input to start the game from the beginning of that level.
GamePro gave the Super NES version a mixed review. They praised the use of parallax scrolling and the "beautifully drawn" backgrounds, but remarked that "the game play, despite the hidden secret levels and fairly tough challenge, just isn't very interesting."