Developer: Michael Todd
Publisher: Michael Todd Games
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Shut Up & Dance!
Score: A (95%)
Prepare to dance a lot and die even more in Michael Todd’s excellent retro platformer, Electronic Super Joy, out now for the Wii U. The game is both a throwback and a keeper, one that will test your skills while making your brain bubble and fingers tingle long after you’ve put down that controller. The game is a pixel-packed near-perfect hard as hell and absolutely hilarious as it hits you on the head with assorted wacky text as you’re trying to concentrate on completing a level. The game works on a pure “shut up and PLAY!” level where the music (by EnV) and simple visual style hook you in and you find yourself learning the basics for a few quick stages before all hell breaks loose.
That hell comes in the form of random stages that may or may not (but mostly may) include the following:
a gigantic seemingly indestructible boss ambling after you
leaps of faith
tilting level maps
teleports to strange places
invisible platforms (requiring the aforementioned leaps of faith)
and so forth and so on. All of that (and more!) wrapped in a deceptively deep visual style with the occasional color themed cycling backgrounds that distract with intent to kill your tiny character if you get caught up in them and not the precision platforming that’s required. Between the beats getting your toes tapping away, the hurry up but be careful gameplay and the copious comedy coming from the onscreen commentary, that’s a lot to take in and ESJ doesn’t let you stop to figure anything out.
This overkill actually makes the game a lot more fun than it sounds (you DID watch that video above, right?) because everything blends together so well that you’ll find yourself not minding dying so much thanks to learning from mistakes. After a spell you’ll figure out what icon does what, where you can and can’t jump and how to get out of almost any mess you may have leaped into. That’s not to say the game gets easier, mind you. In true old-school fashion, repetition and paying attention to patterns comes in handier than ever before. Don’t expect a story mode or something that makes a lot of narrative sense here. This one’s just a joy of the electronic super variety to pop on and hop into whenever you need lift or want to test your patience and reflexes.
This also isn’t a game where you need a super-detailed review on what awaits you. Thank Mr. Todd for that and really now, do you NEED to even have a story in a game like this anyway? Nope. All you need to do is try and finish this one, preferably without watching any speedrun videos on YouTube. All of the enjoyment you’ll get will come from beating a game designed to beat your character to death while your eardrums are grooving on the other beats coming from your speakers or headphones. It doesn’t get any simpler (or harder) than that and that’s what makes this one an instant classic.