Mr Nutz: Hoppin’ Mad is an Amiga title released in 1994 by Ocean Software. You play as Mr Nutz, a squirrel that seems to be heavily influenced by Sonic the Hedgehog, judging by the trainers, gloves and the ‘attitude’ look he’s got going on! This wasn’t unusual though in the early 90s, Sonic and Mario were basically the standard in platform games, and the Amiga never really had a runaway success of a platform game, so this was perhaps one final attempt at bringing a quality, mascot like character to the system.
Mr Nutz actually first appeared on consoles, but Mr Nutz: Hoppin’ Mad, only made it officially onto the Amiga (A Mega Drive version was planned and mostly developed, but did not quite make a full release).
The storyline in the game is not comprehensive or is there any attempt to introduce any meaningful characters early into the game. You are simply trying to defeat some chickens from outer space who are trying to take over the world.
The game plays like a mixture of a Sonic and Mario game, with Mr Nutz being able to run and roll into a ball and also collect any lost power bars when hit by an enemy, all very similar to the Sonic games. In terms of the Mario similarities, you’ve got the overworld map and picking up jewels which are left all over the levels for you instead of coins. Mr Nutz can also pick up feathers which give him power ups, again similar to Tanooki Mario which allow you to glide across the levels and fly up and down whilst you have momentum.
The real issue I have with Mr Nutz: Hoppin’ Mad is it’s really messy level design and use of colour. I found it really hard to see many of the things in the levels which I should be collecting or bouncing on to reach platforms. In screenshots, the game looks really nice, but in motion, it’s just too messy. It feels like a classic example of the kind of games Ocean published later in their life, good sound, good visuals, but just something that feels a bit cobbled together.
As has been demonstrated many times on the Amiga, it just didn’t have that many good platform games. It seems like this is something that was exclusively reserved for consoles. That said, consoles have their stinkers too, but whilst Mr Nutz does look the part and I did actually get a reasonable amount of enjoyment out of it when it was first released, it has not aged well.
Certainly a game where reviewers probably got a bit carried away with the desire to have something which could compete with Sonic & Mario at the time. I wouldn’t worry too much about trying this one out for anything other than nostalgia.