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Electronic Super Joy Preview: A Rage-Inducing Platformer

At PAX East a couple weeks ago, I had a chance to play a short demo of Michael Todd’s upcoming game called Electronic Super Joy. The upbeat electronic music and pulsating visuals drew me in to give it a go, but I had no idea I’d walk away only minutes later so disappointed in myself.

ESJ is a throwback game reminiscent of the days when platforming actually took time, effort, skill, and inhuman patience to do effectively. Much like Super Meat Boy, playing through this game, you can expect to die often. The game really only has one action: jumping. By running and bounding to your heart’s content, your pixelated hero will pass through silhouetted levels while dodging missiles, crushing baddies, and leaping over perilous pitfalls all to the beat of of crazy techno music with suggestive moans and seizure-inducing backgrounds.

The unnamed protagonist of this title is on a mission to reclaim his booty from a nemesis called the Groove Wizard who stole it. The villain’s name alone may be why the game features fast-paced dance music from Envy. As a player, you’ll be expected to platform through several levels on a quest to reclaim your stolen butt. As hilarious as the story sounds, and as fun as the visuals and music are, it’s more than likely that players that play this game will end up being more frustrated than anything else.

After watching quite a few patrons try their hand at Electronic Super Joy and fail miserably to advance more than a few seconds before dying, I stepped up and gave it a go, hoping to at least make it to a new checkpoint. Much to my dismay, the game was just as hard for me as it was for everyone else.

The level I played had large vertical pillars that I had to ascend. By messing with the controls, I quickly discovered that you can indeed double-jump, as you would expect in any platformer. However, the pillars were much taller than I could jump. I bounced around like a fool for a bit before I saw small, faint up arrows floating in the air about halfway up the pillars. By jumping once and hitting an arrow, my character automatically jumped again. With a double-jump still available, I hopped yet again in the air to reach the top of the pillar, effectively triple-jumping to reach my destination. I realized immediately the implications of this; I can foresee several–if not all–levels utilizing these static arrows as a means to platform and navigate, and I can guarantee it won’t always be easy.

After getting a grip on the touchy and finicky control (which, although difficult to master, were completely necessary for such a fast-paced game), I continued my way up, dying every few seconds only to instantly respawn below. After making it quite a ways up, I noticed some pillars were too high to reach even with my trusty triple-jump, but on these pillars were brown edges. By jumping into the sides of these, my character would latch on, allowing my to jump up further. It wasn’t long after utilizing this mechanic that my time with the demo was up.

While I didn’t have long to play, I noticed right away the potential this game has in terms of difficulty, reward, and frustration for the player. My bet is that if you enjoyed titles like Super Meat Boy that Electronic Super Joy will be right up your alley. You can find out for sure when the game releases for PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, and Android later this year.