If the name Mushroom Wars 2 feels familiar and the art for the game looks even more familiar, that’s because the game initially released for iOS and tvOS way back in 2016. In the years since, the game has released for practically every platform imaginable, with the Xbox and PlayStation releases coming out in just January 2022. Despite its age, that cartoonish real-time strategy game still has some fun left in it, though the game does feel a little thin at times when stretched over a home console like the PS4.
The game’s campaign starts you out very simply, with just basic troop movement mechanics. The game’s early stages have you move little mushroom troops from building to building, capturing them as you go. The most basic kind of building will generate troops over time, so capturing these buildings not only increases your troops’ amount and capacity but also increases the rate at which you can get new troops, though the buildings do have caps on how many troops they will create.
As the game progresses, you will quickly unlock the ability to control how many troops you send from one building to the other, in addition to a handful of other buildings, such as a forge that increases your troops’ attacking ability (though I never fully understood what the game meant by that) and turrets that will shoot at enemy troops as they move through a set radius around it.
Speaking of the enemies, the game’s maps often, but not always, feature a perfectly symmetrical layout (or close to it), starting you and your opponent off in the same scenario. You can either capture your opponent’s buildings or you can capture neutral buildings, occupied by neither you nor your opponent. Neutral buildings are often easier to capture, though attacking your opponent’s buildings can harm them and put you in a more advantageous position. This really points to the game’s core mechanic. Because you and your opponent have the same setup, in order to win, especially on harder difficulties, you have to rely on a pretty good balance of solid strategy and quick movements. On larger maps, in particular, you will need to move and place your troops in strategically good positions, but just taking one building at a time often might not work. Instead, you often need to set up and execute large-scale attacks against all of your opponent’s buildings at once.
Mushroom Wars 2 also introduces leader abilities that allow you to do a handful of other things such as move troops faster and automatically take your opponent’s buildings with no troops in them, but the abilities can get a little hard to track, and the game does not explain them very well, either. The game gives you the abilities at a tutorial level, but a couple of the abilities are a little hard to grasp and in my opinion, the game is a little more fun without needing to worry about them.
Once you get through the main tutorial section though, Mushroom Wars 2 starts to reveal why it likely released for more casual platforms like iOS, tvOS, and Switch far before it released for PS4 and Xbox, what I played it on. See, the game, through no real fault of its own, can get pretty repetitive. The game has very little visual variety to it, and all of the level designs tend to rely on the same concepts, and the strategy, once you get the hang of it, simply does not require much puzzle-solving. All of this is totally fine, and even works well, on a platform like iOS because it allows you to pop in a game, play a round, and go do something else, but when playing it on a home console you tend to want to play longer sessions, which the design of the game simply does not allow for.
Mushroom Wars 2 is a fun, simple, and accessible RTS game, but its simplicity, as you would expect, limits what it can do. The game, all-in-all, is pretty good and has a good variety in difficulty as well. Just about anyone could play the easiest difficulty, and the harder difficulties really do provide a good challenge (though I don’t know that the challenge is as deep as you might want from an RTS game), but the game just doesn’t go very many places. Its lack of a story, engaging visuals, and other extras beyond its core gameplay holds the game back, especially on a home console platform like PS4. If you haven’t checked this game out yet, you could definitely find some fun, but do so on a more mobile, come-and-go-friendly platform, like the Switch.
Score: 6 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 4