Lots of retro-styled platformers can be found in the Games section of Apple's App Store. Most of them play like crap. Developers can ape the look and sound of old-school jump-and-shoot games, but that amounts to nothing if control doesn't feel right.

Mutant Mudds gets all of the above—music, visuals and game feel—perfectly right.

Players control an average but heroic kid tasked with blasting gooey alien invaders to bits in the platformer made by Jools Watsham's Renegade Kid dev studio. The pixellated look of Mudds and its chiptune soundtrack managed to charm—and not annoy—me but the game's real revelation was in how sharp it felt to play.

Mutant Mudds already has versions on the 3DS and PlayStation Vita PC. With d-pads and face buttons for input, they control in a way that's closer to the platformers of the NES era. But the new version on iOS can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the ones on those devices. Control over the arc of a jump is surprisingly precise and I rarely felt like I made a misstep because of poor button-mapping. The levels and enemies all move to according tightly-tuned patterns and the inputs are good enough to let you slip in and exploit them without falling into a spiral of frustration.

Moreover, Mutant Mudds pulls off clever tricks with screen depth with spots where you can play in the extreme back- or foreground of a level. It's a nice feature that shows off a technological trick that old-school consoles But even when newfangled gimmicks are there to dazzle, a game's inputs need to do what you want when you want. Mutant Mudd's fun is built on a rock-solid foundation that merges great thinking from the past and present. A damn sight cheaper than 8-bit games ever were, but just as fun.


Mutant Mudds [$0.99, iPhone & iPad; Apple App Store]