M.U.L.E. Returns is a prime example of why revisiting the past isn't always the best idea.
It's a clumsy port of a not-particularly-inspiring strategy game that shows its age in every creaking joint and painful loading screen.
This might be the game that defined a genre, but that genre has moved so much further on from its starting point that revisiting it was always going to expose its flaws.
Even with its new lick of paint, M.U.L.E. Returns feels outdated, with sloppy touch controls and far-from-impressive backdrops.
Time and time again
The game is all about colonising a new planet. You're a podgy alien creature, whose mission is to create the three resources (energy, food, and a metallic ore) your colony needs to survive. To do this, you need some M.U.L.E.s.
At the start of each turn, you select a square on the map and plant a flag. Then, you buy a M.U.L.E. (Multiple Use Labor Element), configure it for the resource you want, and drag it to the square. You need food to be able to work, but you need energy to power your factories, and ore to make some cash.
You can buy things from the other, AI-controlled players in an auction at the end of each round. So, if you don't have enough food to play the next turn, make sure you stock up, otherwise you won't have the time to get anything done.
You'll have to endure some surprisingly lengthy loading times here, I'm afraid. These are made even more infuriating than normal when you consider just how simple the game is. The controls are slipshod, too, with taps and swipes not being registered in the way you want them to.
Comma 8 Studios doesn't do a particularly good job of explaining what it is you're supposed to be doing in this game, either. Sure, there is a tutorial (of sorts), but it's not what you'd call super-helpful.
But Comma 8 also commits the cardinal sin of just not making a very interesting game. It trades on nostalgia, and does it badly. And while there is a level of depth to the gameplay that is revealed as you play, you couldn't classify the game as 'entertainment' by any stretch of the imagination.
M.U.L.E. Returns might be based on one of the original strategy titles, but there are far more interesting modern iterations of the genre that are worthy of your time.