Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Electronic Super Joy Review (XONE)

Electronic Super Joy is a good example of my biggest pet peeve against indie games - It is basically all style over substance.  It has a distinct look and great soundtrack, but the actual gameplay is very much by the numbers and not particularly fun or interesting.  It is just “Indie Platformer #84823987” and that’s it.  Not really good or bad, and certainly not unique, Electronic Super Joy isn’t really worth your time.

Game Details

  • Publisher: LOOT Interactive
  • Developer: Michael Todd Games
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: 2D Platformer
  • Pros: Looks and sounds awesome; challenging
  • Cons: Poor checkpoints; largely style over substance
  • MSRP: $10 / $20 (bundle)

Available for $10 by itself or for $20 in a bundle along with Jumpjet Rex and Q*bert Rebooted, Electronic Super Joy is a retro-inspired 2D platformer.  To set it apart from the bazillion other retro-inspired 2D platformers out there, Electronic Super Joy has a distinct art style where your character and all of the foreground objects exist only as black silhouettes while the backgrounds usually consist of extremely bright colors.  It definitely looks interesting.  The game also has a fantastic techno soundtrack and a neat mechanic where gameplay actions contribute beats and sounds to the music. 

Unfortunately, the actual gameplay underneath the nifty presentation is as bland and by-the-numbers as you can get in a 2D platformer these days.  It follows the increasingly tired indie game design philosophy of making everything oldschool and extremely difficult, but the result is just boring.  You run and jump around increasingly complicated levels that soon start auto scrolling or introducing new jump pads and teleporters and other nonsense on your way to an end goal.  The jumps are always just far enough apart and the timing for getting through each section is so tight that anything but absolute perfect precision means you die and restart at the last checkpoint. 

Thankfully, the controls are actually quite precise and when you die it is usually 100% your fault.  The checkpoints, on the other hand, are usually spaced fairly far apart, often with 2-3 difficult platforming sections between them, which makes the game frustrating when you have to play and replay the same difficult sections over and over just to get to the actual hard part you had trouble with in the first place.  I am not a fan.  As I mentioned above, the gameplay rhythm isn’t particularly fun or interesting in the first place – particularly in 2016 when we’ve seen exactly this type of game a million times already – so making it overly difficult and frustrating turns me off of playing it very quickly.

When the cool visuals and thumping music loses its appeal, and it does so fairly quickly, Electronic Super Joy is just another face in the crowd of indie 2D platformers.  Not only is it mostly style over substance, but it is flat out embarrassing to play too since every checkpoint is met with completely weird and totally out of place sexy voice samples.  Electronic Super Joy is immediately appealing with great presentation, but the gameplay does very little to keep you interested for very long.  Skip it.