tooth mouse

Tooth Mouse Stirs Up Emotions With Gross Rodent Soccer

Some folks mix cars with soccer. Others mix body horror with the sport instead. Tooth Mouse tasks you with ripping teeth out of someone’s head to use as the ball in a kind of soccer game amongst rodents. Who have guns, because why not? The end result is a strange mixture of sport exhilaration, absurd humor, and sickening discomfort as you play through the game, making for a wild array of feelings as you play it with a pal. Sickening discomfort is always better together.

The rodents have somehow managed to capture a human. Well, something that kinda sorta looks like it could pass for human. Anyway, once they catch a human, it’s time for a harvest of their teeth. We’re not just going to be all gross and morbid about it, though. Why dig out the pliers when you can just turn it into a fun game for everyone? As such, you play a pair of filthy animals, with one player controlling the one on the left and the other guiding the one on the right. You’ll lead them to rush in, steal a tooth, and then hurry to your opponent’s goal. Preferably without getting shot.

Tooth Mouse runs through a variety of emotions as you play it. For starters, it’s a bit sickening at a glance. The ‘human’ they have captured is looking pretty messed up. We can see that their facial features are mangled and out-of-place during the opening of the game. Their nose is on crooked. They have an ear where one of their eyes should be. It already looks off-putting, but then you see the clamps at either side of the jaws. Can’t say I’ve seen office equipment used this way before. It all combined into something that made me instantly uncomfortable.

With the mouth forced open, we get to see their sparse, misshapen teeth. The gaping mouth is wide open. Mice wait on either side of it, ready to rush inside. The human really turned my stomach, but seeing the spread jaws and clamped mouth made me extremely uncomfortable. I got a little shiver of connection at seeing it all, as ridiculous as the visuals are. Something about imagining your mouth being held open while mice leap inside is truly gross. Plus, they’re in there to rip your teeth out by hand, a thought that gives me twinges of imagined pain.

Just the design and visuals of the game put me in a sickened state. Tooth Mouse made me uncomfortable the moment it started. What’s wild is that, from there, it had me chuckling at the rest of the gameplay. I had to make this comical mouse run forward (mine had the dapper hat on) so that they could be the first to springboard into the human mouth. Hopefully, I’d be nimble enough to snatch a tooth and get away before my opponent shot me with a floppy revolver.

The moment-to-moment play is absurd. You’re rodents stealing teeth and shooting at one another. It’s also extremely exciting, as you need to gauge risks and outwit your opponent. Ripping out a tooth takes time. That leaves plenty of time for the other mouse to shoot you while you’re tugging away. Even if you get a tooth, good luck racing to the opponent’s goal before they can get in your way. It’s frantic and silly to exchange revolver shots while trying to run a tooth into a soccer net.

Everything is enhanced because Tooth Mouse is a co-op game, too. Each player has buttons on either side of the keyboard assigned to their abilities. You’re brough close together because of this control scheme. It’s almost intimate, except you’re racing to yank out someone’s bloody teeth. You spend a lot of time with this game experiencing it while close together. This makes every laugh or grossed-out moment feel even more intense.

Unsurprisingly, playing a game about mice playing a game with stolen teeth feels weird. It comes with a mixture of emotions that are a lot to take when you’re all by yourself. With another person, I felt this need to explain myself as I played, though. It was my idea to play this game, after all. I kept wondering what my partner thought of me as I laughed and howled as we fought to see who could score the most teeth. Here I was having a wonderful time tearing molars out of a person’s head while they were helpless to do anything about it. Yes, it’s framed as a fun game among mice, but what did my co-op partner think of my reactions to it?

Tooth Mouse uses that close-up play style to bring you so close that you can’t help but think about the other player. I didn’t think they thought I was odd or morbid. Well, probably. But I just kept wondering what they thought of me for how much fun I was having fighting over the teeth and exchanging revolver shots. As they laughed and got caught up in it, a part of me was relieved that they were just as prone to enjoying morbidly-hilarious games as well. I felt a relief and a strengthening bond as my worries faded.

It was an unexpected experience. After reading the game’s concept, I expected a gross little diversion. What I got was a swirl of various emotions that continually flit through your head as you play it. These were emotions that don’t normally connect with one another, either. I have fun playing through horror games, sure, but I don’t know if I would say that I enjoy the gore and sickening moments. Here, those emotions mingle because you’re playing the exciting sport as you carry out the gross action. The feelings intertwine into this conflicting, almost-guilt-inducing snarl. Which, again, gets even stranger when you have someone so close they’re probably rubbing against your shoulder.

I thought Tooth Mouse was just a sport game with an absurd concept. While it is that, and also an extremely fun, extremely disgusting game, it’s also an experiment in making the player feel many things at once. It’s an array of conflicting, varied feelings, and one that draws upon a connection with another player to feel all kinds of sensations as we play it. That it could make me wary of myself and others, as well as feel a deeper bond with them over our shared morbidity, was an incredible feat.

Who knew that gross rodent sports played with teeth could bring me closer to my loved ones? It’s more than Rocket League ever did for me.