Muppet Monster Adventure is a collect-a-thon 3d platformer based on the Muppet Show. Instead of of one the main Muppets, it stars Kermit's nephew Robin as he traverses a bunch of spooky worlds in order to save the other Muppets from their new monstrous forms.
There are many small sub-genres of plaformer and I want to make clear which one MMA belongs to. To put it bluntly, it's a Spyro the Dragon clone. I'd almost consider it theft, but it does have its own quirks.
The framework is almost identical. You have a set of levels separated by bosses that require collectables to unlock. There's evil energy that comes in identical quantities to the gems in Spyro and the rarer Muppet token needed to unlock the next boss. Instead of egg thieves, Rizzo runs around in circles with tokens for you to catch. You also have a pair of attacks that enemies are either immune or susceptible to, just like in Spyro.
Robin's dash and glide have counterparts in the purple dragon's moveset too. Hell, there's even a temporary fireball power-up. Except instead of dragonfire, you shoot flaming chickens!
With the aesthetic being so far removed from Spyro and the game having some new things to bring to the table, I'm fine MMA stealing so much. It's not like we're spoiled for choice of good Spyro games anyway. There's like what, four?
Platformers aren't known for high drama, but MMA doesn't even try. It begins with the Muppets going to Honeydew castle in order to hear the will of Dr. Bunsen's uncle. At the door, Robin sees a scary silhouette and faints.
When he wakes up, Bunsen, Beaker and Pepe the King Prawn are there to tell him that the rest of the Muppets have become monsters and the near village is rapidly becoming evil. The mechanics of this evilution is never properly explained. They then send Robin on his way to save them and the game starts.
That's about all we get and I think it's at odds with the manual, which says that the worlds you traverse were made by Bunsen's uncle. I'm inclined to believe that more, since they don't feel realistic at all.
It doesn't detract much, as you get put straight in the action and remain there until you meet a Muppet monster or get to the ending.
Being a children's horror-themed platformer, MMA is more fun than scary. Every world is themed after the preceding boss, meaning that you start with the levels belonging to the final boss, beat the first boss and then go into his levels.
It's a nice little setup and the levels are themed very well. You get castles, villages, caves, mountains, temples and a few weird ones. It's about what you'd expect from a platformer, but they make an effort to be unique. There's even some decent LoD effects for a PS1 game.
Enemies are mechanically similar or identical to other ones, but they do get remodeled to fit the level. Few are directly lifted, which helps to make the levels stand out from eachother.
Much like Spyro with Stewart Copeland, MMA also has an amazing soundtrack. It's an orchestral score produced by Michael Giacchino of Call of Duty and the Incredibles fame. It's absurdly jaunty and upbeat with a hint of some spooky sounds and maybe some jazz. I don't think I can properly express just how good it is. I implore everyone to give it a listen. There's even a proper Muppet song!
The one minus is that songs are recycled in a few levels, but they are so good that I don't mind. The music for the Temple of Pork also uses a lot of the same sound effects as Bentley's Outpost from Spyro 3. Same thing for the Monstery Monastery and Cloud Temple in Spyro 2. Make of that what you will.
As stated beforehand, this is basically a Spyro game with some twists. Robin's laser glove serves the same purpose as Spyro's flame breath, but the charge was split in two. It might actually be for the better, since the spin is less likely to send you flying down a cliff compared to Spyro's charge.
Robin's dash is quite fun to use. It makes is easy to just run around collecting everything in sight at a brisk pace. The jumping is about the same as in Spyro. It's not really built for perfect aerial control, so you have to commit to jumps. The momentum is wrongly programmed, so if you steer in the air as much as possible, you can backpedal in the air. I can't really explain it better, you'd need to try it yourself. But you never need to do that, so it's not a real issue. Now, let's talk about some spooky powers.
As you explore the first three levels, you find amulets that'll grant you the powers of the Muppet Monsters. They are also mostly the same as Spyro's abilities.
The Waka Waka Werebear power let's you climb in a similar fashion to Spyro in 2 onwards. It's snappy, used for a few challenges and some hidden collectibles. No complaints here.
Muck Monster let's you swim about as well as Spyro. The controls are just as good, but you can't hold a button to go faster, so that's a bit lame.
Noseferatu's (sic) power is just Spyro's glide, minus the ability to slow down.
Ghoulfriend's power is the one I have some gripes with. It allows you to smash down rare doors. I'm not a fan of these kind of simple door opening powers with no limitation. It's just a timewaster. But they make an effort to hide a few of these doors, so it's not all a wash.
Finally, there's Ker-Monster's block pushing power. It's also a bit of a timewaster, since the blocks are on a track. But it's used for some puzzles, so there's that.
All in all, Robin feels like an alternate Spyro and the game plays well, outside of how slippery certain platforms can be. You really need to make an aimed effort and use full jumps.
The flow of collecting is well paced. Evil energy is sealed in enemies and spooky containers and fun to collect. You don't have anything like Sparx to help you, but Robin turns better than Spyro and you can use the spin to cover a big area, so you can collect it fine.
Muppet Tokens are either found or earned in a challenge. These are overlooked by Pepe and come in a few distinct flavours. They are mostly about racing or collecting and the odd turret-esque minigame. They aren't as varied as in Spyro, but they all work well and go by quick.
My biggest gripe with the game is about the coins. They are used to unlock stuff in the gallery. It's mostly artwork and a few videos. The problem is that enemies only drop them the second time you kill them, either after dying or returning. It feels like a punishment for playing well.
They could have easily redistributed the evil energy to containers and had the enemies drop the coins the first time through. As is, it feels like cheap replay value.
I wouldn't mind as much if the gallery didn't hold some secrets. Across the game, there are dastardly hidden areas that hold a few collectibles. Think stuff like the entrances to secret levels in Crash 3 that you'd never find naturally. But the cool thing is that there are videos in the gallery showing you these secrets once you get enough coins.
That's the only backtracking in the game you'll need for evil energy and tokens and it goes away once you know where the secrets are.