Released on July 21, 1996 in Japan and subsequently 1997 in North America and Australia, Mole Mania is a puzzle game produced by famed game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Despite being affiliated with one of the most well-known individuals in interactive entertainment, the game has performed particularly poor in sales, and is considered one of the few commercially failed projects he has personally undertaken.
On a lazy day, Muddy Mole, his partner and seven children are relaxing in the woods. Suddenly farmer Jinbe, aggravated over the fact that the Mole family continues to steal his cabbages and create subterranean chaos, sweeps in and kidnaps Muddy's entire family. Therefore leaving Muddy to conquer Jinbe Land and face Jinbe himself in his castle.
Playing from a top-down perspective, the goal is to advance from screen to screen, each littered with obstacles and enemies. The objective on every single screen is the same: push, shove or throw the black bomb into the breakable exit in any way possible. Barrels and blocks can additionally be used to allow the explosive to cross gaps or as a means to stop it in its tracks. Though the opening stages looking fairly minimalist and simple in their design, later stages become devious and complex fairly quickly. The ending of each world concludes with a boss battle that has a specific theme along with the stage itself.
The defining characteristic of the title is it's use of underground travel. Every stage has an individual underground territory that Muddy can dig through. Holes can be used to traverse from above ground to below ground. The difficulty thus stems from the decision of where the player digs, as the bomb will re-appear at it's starting point as soon as it enters such a hole. Areas that are inaccessible normally may be traversable underground and vice versa. Later challenges include pipes that redirect the bomb and E.g. spikes that Muddy cannot cross, but the bomb is able to regardless.
Furthermore, a multiplayer mode is available where players battle for supremacy over cabbages. The target being to collect more cabbages than the opponent in the allotted time. Cabbages, like in the main game, can be collected by moving them into cavities before the opposition.
The game further includes support for the Super Game Boy; Enabling more colors and tones to be displayed on screen while simultaneously adding a custom-themed border.
- The boss featured in World 7 has a striking resemblance to an enemy commonly seen in the Kirby franchise.
- If the player continually nags the Elder Mole (who grants the player health in special stages throughout the adventure) they will eventually get a Game Over.
- Cabbages feature an important role and when all 20 are collected in a single world, a special Cabbage challenge is unlocked where the player steals more cabbages from Jinbe.