There are platform games that are simple in their approach, there are some that are more intuitive, and then there are some that make you want to throw the controller across the room. Electronic Super Joy by developer Michael Todd is the latter of those, and I mean it as a good thing…for the most part.
Originally released in 2013 for the PC, and recently released for the Xbox One, Electronic Super Joy is about a nameless protagonist that is nothing more than a dark silhouette, and his quest to get revenge after his butt is stolen. Yes, his butt, on his body, was literally stolen. It is ridiculous to be sure, but then so is the game with its humor and boss fights.
In his pursuit for revenge you navigate him through colorful 8-bit worlds with techno tracks playing in the background. Like other platformers like Super Meat Boy, and the recently released Klaus, Electronic Super Joy take the few game mechanics it has and manages to make them feel fresh thanks to the different levels and the approach they take; changing of gravity, taking away uses of button options, and so on.
There is no real story to this platformer. You go through about a dozen levels in each world as citizens try to boost your ego and give you hints about what it coming up. With earlier levels aside and some in the middle, the level design in Electronic Super Joy is maddening. The missiles in the game is where most people will get stuck on the most. For the most part, the games physics are perfectly fine and while you will die, a lot, you will come back to the last checkpoint as you hear an orgasmic sound in the background.
The issues with the missiles isn’t that they exist, it more that they exist more to be a nuisance and there isn’t any rhyme or reason to it. With such detail to level design, it was hard to understand why they come out you in the game like they do, and it felt like that the game was less about skill at those points and more of it being about luck. There is simply too much happening on the screen that requires timing and no amount of body slamming into them will help, especially if the level requires you to keep moving right or you will die. To clarify, it’s not impossible to get through certain levels, it’s just more repetition and luck than anything.
Another aspect to the game, that players will begrudgingly discover, is the lack of checkpoints. Some of these levels are so difficult that more casual gamers will be turned off to it, and a major factor could be the minimal checkpoints on the longer and harder levels. There is nothing worse than staring from a checkpoint and getting past a seemingly impossible scenario after dozens of tries just to discover a whole new one with the next checkpoint clearly in sight and dying over and over again just to get over the new hurdle and the one previous. If you are a masochist, you may love that, or relish the fact that you can turn the checkpoints off.
In spite of those hurdles, the game is challenging regardless. While some levels are short, sometimes they seem longer due to the constant planning of moves. With the dozens of levels that the game contains, you will get your money’s worth and it will take you longer to complete the game than you might think. Electronic Super Joy is like the Dark Souls of recent platformers; it can be exciting, fun, frustrating, and even something you will rage quit over. However, in the end, after you master that difficult level, you will get a sense of instant relief and continue on, in spite of your best judgement.
Electronic Super Joy is humorous, at the very least, with it use of profanity, wit (and by wit, I mean bad puns), perversion, dialogue, and its ridiculous boss battles; like the Groove Wizard, a big dinosaur thing with a laser, and a killer pope.
Electronic Super Joy succeeds at most things with its catchy soundtrack, overall level design, humor, and controls. However, it will probably alienate casual players that will give up because of over the top difficulty in some levels. There were times that I contemplated stopping the game entirely because I am not the type of player that relishes in difficulty to the point I can’t progress, but after taking a few steps back and trying it again, I eventually got there. For gamers that enjoy challenging levels, this platformer has it in spades.
*Review copy provided by the developer