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