Mashed: Concursion Demo Released

By Alice O'Connor on April 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Shmup glitches into ninja platformer

Making a good video game is difficult, we can deduce from the existence of innumerable not-good video games. Making five good video games is a rare feat for any developer. Concursion boldly tries to smoosh five together into one single game. It does not really work for any of them. It’s an interesting idea though, so you may want to give the demo out now a go to see what it was trying.

See, Concursion has a platformer, a shoot ‘em up, a jetpack game, a stabby ninja platformer, and a Pac-Man-y maze game, sometimes all on the same screen. Levels have little rifts which pull you into pockets of another genre, so your ninja might hop up and enter a shmup, briefly becoming a spaceship blasting away, before dropping down into a maze to eat dots. But none of these individual subgames are fun.

The platformer is floaty and its level design uninteresting. The ninja combat is lifeless. The shoot ‘em up is not a fun shmup. The jetpacker is frustrating. The Pac-Man game is, well, a Pac-Man game. The magic is meant to come when they’re brought together, as the enemies and level morph appropriately between rifts, and you become someone who moves in a different way, has more or less health, and can use different abilities.

Momentum carries over too, so the platformer’s sprint jump may be needed for the ninja’s double jump to carry them over the spikes which were previously harmless blocks. That’s on the simple end, and many sequences will flow between three or more genres. When it works, it feels pretty slick. Most of the time, I muddled through by trial and error and checkpoints rather than cleverness, especially on the frustrating autoscrolling levels. On some levels I simply ignored enemies and headed straight for the exit.

Actual skill is required to get the ‘gem shards’ scattered throughout levels, hidden in places you’ll need to use clever riftswapping to reach. They’re optional but supposedly something to do with the story, which sounds a bit Braid-y. Trying to collect them certainly makes it more interesting.

All the while, the game blasts music reminiscent of a madcap montage from a ’90s episode of ChuckleVision. It’s peppered with sudden loud flashes as if your sister’s twiddling the volume knob because she wants to watch Art Attack and–following the rules but not the spirit of parental orders to take turns–is attempting to annoy you into changing the channel. When the ninja’s sword refuses to consistently cut the floor you need to quickly drop down through to avoid autoscrolling off screen and dying, the chipper tootling is maddening.

Concursion is due on PC and Mac this summer, developed by Puuba Games. While it’s an interesting idea, this isn’t realised well. Maybe have a look, if you’re too full of chocolate eggs to get out and about this weekend.

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10 Comments »

  1. Hunchback says:

    Looking at the last few pages of RTS, i feel like we are back in 1991, when i got my first Nintendo…

    And this is starting to slightly annoy me. Being “indy” is not an excuse to forget about graphics, and doing “old school” is not either, as many indy devs have proven. I wish people would cut that shit out, already. It’s really gotten old :/ (no pun intended… or was it?)

    • dE says:

      I don’t know if the graphics got old. But I can attest that the complaining about them got old really fast though. Especially since you seem to miss how the quality of graphics is dependant upon budget. Basically, your wish that they “cut that shit out” translates to “get out of games development you peasant. Only the big pockets are allowed here”.

      This is especially funny, because the budgets for AAA Games on the other hand are a massive concern for the Developers. They’re frequently beyond sustainable, because they try to satisfy the demand of the graphic fanatics.

      • Hunchback says:

        Some of the best looking games of the last couple of have been relatively low budget, indy games. Not just in high-polygons or something, but in creativity and general art style…

        Then there are those, who seem to be using the pretext that they don’t have solid funding and thus will skip on making something pretty. *shrug* OFC have to take into consideration a factor of generalization, but that’s inevitable.

        • The Random One says:

          No. There are those who either:

          - keep their graphics simpler because they focus on gameplay or
          - create their pixel art in a style you, personally, do not find engaging.

          Because pixel art is fashionable again, you’ll see a lot more pixel art than you would otherwise. And you wouldn’t see art styles you do not like amongst games that are going for a realistic feel, because all of those are going for the same feel, so you either like what they’re trying to do or you don’t, whereas there’s a lot more leeway with pixel art. If you don’t like it, then you don’t like it, and that’s okay (I don’t like this game’s art, either); but don’t act as if the devs had an obligation to cater to your specific taste as if they were a sample of what everyone felt.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Blame game for a mechanical failure on an artistic merit. Miss that “art” is based on opinion not mechanics.

          They did not “forget” the art. They chose one different to the liking of some people. There is a massive difference.

          Some can change art styles to fit certain audiences, in this case they chose not to. That is a mechanical process, and you can call them up on that. But not on their choice of art style. As that’s pure opinion. It’s fine to have an opinion on their art, but we must realise, it’s just an opinion and not fact we can impose on others.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I am sick of graphics. Bring on the smell-based games.

  2. minstrelofmoria says:

    Or you could just play Mega Mash and get the same experience for free. http://www.nitrome.com/games/megamash/#.U1FYyfERF-

  3. Zarathruster says:

    I can’t say that I have any intention to play this, but I applaud this sort of thing: we need more games that fail for interesting reasons. There were a lot of interesting failures in the 90′s, but the better parts were sometimes picked up and used in better games later on.

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