The birthday present couldn’t be better. At www.muleonline.com you can now get a “new-but-old” version of M.U.L.E. for a small fee, playable on Windows, Linux and MacOS. While Planet M.U.L.E. and M.U.L.E. Returns had a clear focus on visual modernisation and compromised on the original gameplay feel, M.U.L.E. Online has gone back to the roots. Indie developer Andrew Dieffenbach has painstakingly translated the C64 code into C and converted it into a new format suitable for modern hardware and player requirements. The result is a 1:1 translation of the C64 experience into the modern era, with some fine-tuning and the addition of a major new feature: easy-to-use online multiplayer gaming.
The installation is very simple: download, unpack, start – and you can hear the well-known title melody in the most beautiful SID sound, even supplemented by the fourth voice of the Atari original. The best of both worlds, Atari and C64, has been combined not only in the soundtrack but also in the graphics. The Atari’s more eye-catching colour scheme is a delight, while the reworked and nicer looking sprites are from the C64. Connoisseurs of either original will recognise the Atari or C64 in many other details. However, the game mechanics are essentially the same as the C64 version.
As with the Atari, up to four human players can comfortably play locally on one computer, provided that the appropriate number of gamepads are connected via USB or Bluetooth. Alternatively, you can play with up to three other human players over the Internet. The online functionality is very robust, allowing a tournament to continue even if there is a temporary internet connection problem. This is a quantum leap in terms of usability and stability compared to the buggy online gaming options of emulators.
M.U.L.E. Online has managed to retain the feel of the original 1:1, despite being modernised for today’s hardware. Only the most discerning will notice the slight differences in the implementation of the random generator. Nevertheless, we can warmly recommend the game and hope that tournaments will soon be fiercely contested on M.U.L.E. Online’s servers.