Electronic Super Joy is self-described as “The unholy merging of Super Meat Boy & Super Hexagon” on its Steam page. Hmph. High praise considering those are two of my very, very favorite indies. Still, even though the game is released yet still reads “Beta Version,” it treads close to the border of greatness. It certainly has a solid presentation that might be a bit lived-in by now, but there are some fresh ideas here.
Now, if the snippet didn’t give you a hint, ESJ is a platformer of the rinse-repeat fashion. You’ll die 10, 20, sometimes 40-plus times in a level only to quickly try again. The goal is to reclaim your butt – the butt which got chopped off by Groove-Wizard. As the Mandate of Platformers decrees, you will be running, jumping, flying, sliding and smashing from left to right, from beginning to goal. Do I need to explain a platformer to you all? Didn’t think so. Let’s open her up and peek inside.
Pixelled Presentation and Eurodance Sexiness
First things first, the presentation is good. The game is at its worst graphically speaking, and it still manages to squeeze some new concepts from the seizure-pixel-color backdrop. My favorite was when rotating black light would eclipse the black foreground leaving only the colored parts visible. Besides the graphics, the vibe of the game is spot on. Unobtrusive at most times, when is peeks its head in, the humorous tone was enjoyable – you kill the Pope and F-Bombs are dropped.
Where ESJ really gets brownie points is the soundtrack. Man, it is good. Again, nothing really new here but the booming, deep techno music is more enjoyable than many of its ilk. It is way more varied than others too, skipping between pared down tunes of serenity and headphone-taxing barnburners of low-register thump. Not to plug it, but you can also buy the soundtrack in-game. Do so.
There also needs to be particular mention of the checkpoints. When passing or respawning at one, you are greeted with the sexiest, deepest-voiced male “OOOHHH, YEAHHHH” I’ve heard since The Real McCoys were putting out ’90s eurodance jamz. The other times you get a sexed-up woman circling climax with her own “OOOHHH, YEAHHHH.” It’s a hilarious touch, playing off of the inherent sexiness of the music.
Difficulty and Diversity
The gameplay is kinda reminiscent of Super Meat Boy. The character is kinda reminiscent of the LIMBO kid. The colors and musically reverbing background are even kinda reminiscent of Super Hexagon. So, yeah, to an extent that specific marketing line works. But – and this is no slight, those are ridiculously well-loved games – ESJ isn’t as good as either of them. Still, what the designers cobbled and slapped together like adobe bricks works.
The challenge is staunch, that much is certain, but anyone can make a hard platformer. There is an impressive variety and, more over, self restraint shown here. Instead of opting for more levels (there are 60, with four bonus ones), the ones that made the cut are thoughtfully set up and escalated. While the nuts-and-bolts game design is above average, the holistic design of the player experience is fabulous.
Death Begets Death
Now, the game is far from perfect. First and foremost, the difficulty might grate a few. I enjoyed the largest part of the pie, but some might not. This is only exacerbated by some small, few-and-far-between technical issues. On one or two levels, upon respawning, there was noticeable stutter. Combine this with the rinse-repeat gameplay and you’ll end up dying, respawning to stutter and ending up dead by the time you catch up. This happened maybe in three spots.
Pontificating the Posterior
I am grinning while writing this under The Misses (against my better judgment, too) but Electronic Super Joy is about realizing your revenge against the Groove-Wizard for slicing off your butt. Some people – myself included – would see this as an absolutely awesome benefit to add to any game. Others might not.
Electronic Super Joy is a good damn game. It is held back not by the tiniest, only-there-for-journalistic-integrity technical shortcomings but rather the scope. And this is not a bad thing on all counts. The game has the decency to get in, get the smiles and get out. The story is trite and smirky, the gameplay is demanding and varied. For its slim asking price, I fully recommend it to any platforming or indie fans.
Electronic Super Joy Review Platform: PC