What won't come through in screens is just how nice the game looks. The bizarre lighting effects and high framerate lend Mushroom Men an extraordinarily crisp appearance that is especially nice for DS 3D.
Gallery: Mushroom Men
The first level takes place in what looks like a forest environment, full of branches to traverse. In this tutorial, of course, I was constantly given hints about how to save, how to create weapons, and such. This kind of hand-holding diminishes over time. In this level (the same one I played at E3), I rescued some mushroom pals, picked up various trash for weapons, and learned how to use the grappling hook and my character's latent Spore Powers, which are like magic, but fungal (and controlled by drawing gestures on the touch screen). The enemies were mosquitoes and walking beetles, all of whom have weaknesses and resistances to certain types of weapons and attacks. When you accost one of these enemies, the non-gameplay screen changes to information about your enemy's HP and attributes. Not listed in the mosquitoes' info: they're huge jerks and it can be hard to hit them with a stick.
The varieties of stick and other implements I found included: wooden sticks, toothpick swords, some rocks, beads, a little wrench, a fork, and other things. Many of the items could be combined: a stick with a bead on it becomes a kind of mace, and I later made a nice axe out of a toothpick (or some such item) and a chunk of broken glass. Each level features a special weapon that is used just for that level. The first level's weapon: the Last Line of Defense, which is a fishhook, a tiny metal rod, and a crankshaft stuck together. That enabled me to fight the Mosquito General somewhat successfully, and then it mysteriously disappeared. Following my defeat of the General, I was sent back through the level to pick up Bits of Food for my mushroom tribe, then onto the next level. To reach the entrance, I had to float down on a leaf parachute. To build this, I had to solve a puzzle (identified by a puzzle icon in the level) in which I arranged a picture of the item out of fragments.
The second area is called the Beetle Caves, featuring multiple areas that must be blown up to get through, using conveniently-placed explosives. The special weapon here was the Cave Axe, made of what looked like a fragment of a circular saw and a metal rod, used to slash through thick plants. Other new weapons of interest included arrows (pointy rocks on sticks) and awesome incendiary devices made of pill capsules filled with gasoline. This level is where my progress stopped; I dropped into a boat in some glowing green liquid, and floated happily forward until a giant fish pushed me out of the water. I was informed that my weapons wouldn't work against such a fearsome foe.
The one problem I had during my E3 playthrough -- swapping screens -- was such a non-issue this time that I kind of wonder what was wrong with me. When you need to interact with the environment on the touchscreen, you hit the little 'swap' icon and move the screen down. When you need to mess with your inventory, you put that on the bottom screen. It's actually pretty intuitive and not a big deal at all.