Nowadays, when people think of indie games, platformers first come to mind. Due to how platformers had been the most played and developed genre during the 90′s, it had influenced indie developers a great degree. That influence is so strong that it even drove what then became one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in Mighty No. 9, the spiritual successor of Mega Man. The genre is not fading out anytime soon, even though it had a bit of a lull when 3D titles started dominating. Even when it may not be as popular as before, it is still quite lively, and Electronic Super Joy comes in at a good enough time.
Electronic Super Joy is quite a quirky name for a platformer created by game designer Michael Todd. It had been in development under the name of Techno Ninja for quite a while, and was first up for release on 2012. This game is one of those really difficult platformers, along the lines of Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Cloudberry Kingdom, I Wanna Be The Guy, and so on. If you’re into such challenging platformers, then ESJ is going to fit in very well in that collection. The difficulty harkens back to the days of “Nintendo Hard” games that turned boys and girls into frustrated and grumpy children, but then transitions to adults with fond memories of a time when video games did not spoil their players.
Aside from the title itself, the game features aesthetics that will make even the most cynical of gamers stare at it for a good few seconds at least. It’s bright colors behind a black foreground, like an acid version of Limbo. The music is quite excellent as well, and it matches the fun visual style that the game features quite prominently. Some people may have to turn down the contrast on their monitors for this game though as it can seem seizure-inducing with all the bright colors flashing about during gameplay. If you have astigmatism, then this game may pose a challenge to your visual experience.
Like with the other challenging platformers out there, this is not very casual-friendly. It’s a game that pushes you to perform past your limits due to its selling point, which is the brutal difficulty. It’s even more brutal when you consider how ESJ does not let you skip levels when you get stumped in one, so you have to suck it up and soldier on if you’re finding it rather uncooperative. It gets even harder as it tends to not be as consistent with its own rules, changing them between levels to mix things up. The dancing NPCs then tell you that your powers have changed as well, so traversing the levels becomes even more challenging, and perhaps even impossible in getting collectables and so on. You can’t just rely on things staying exactly the same as you go through the game, so you have to plan your approach before every level and learn from your mistakes.
Just like with those other difficult platformers, you’d want to play this game with a pad controller for best effect. You can also play it with a keyboard if you wish, but do note that you will die a whole lot in this game even if you’re playing with a pad controller. This game does have a pretty apt name as it really is a joy to play this game once you’re somehow comfortable with the difficulty level.
As a platformer, this game is certainly one of the very best in recent years, and players will get to appreciate its quality in gameplay and visuals for $8 on Steam. It has also been announced for release on iOS and Android, so watch out for that as well.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8.5/10