Atomp Reviews: Electronic Super Joy [Michael Todd]

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Tom Hooper aka Atomp

I’m starting to see a trend in my reviews, a trend regarding a certain type of challenge/score attack indie games, they always seem to hinge around the music. This is true of both Hotline Miami and Super Hexagon, both are games with relatively simple yet difficult and unforgiving gameplay and both have the all important outstanding soundtrack. Not wanting to buck that trend it’s time to look at Electronic Super Joy. Electronic Super Joy is pretty much a pure 2D platformer, a genre that isn’t exactly sparse at this time. However from what I’ve played this has the tight gameplay of Super Meatboy, a clean and distinct aesthetic and of course the prior mentioned boss soundtrack. This isn’t just another 2D platformer, this is an exceptional 2D platformer I’d happily rate above Super Meatboy.

There is an essential requirement that will make or break a 2D platformer from the very start and that’s control. Slow, slippery, gliding or unresponsive controls will kill a platformer dead in the water as the player has to compete the the controls rather than the challenges, and luckily Electronic Super Joy does no such thing. The controls are tight, character movement is precise and at no point have I found myself blaming the controls for a mistake. My advice here though would be to find a controller that you’re very comfortable with, as it will make the game. The game supports just about any input, so as a player you can go with whatever you want. Personally I don’t like the keyboard for this kind of thing and the d-pad on the 360 pad is like rubbing your thumb on a cheese grater, so I use my go-to-controller for platformers, the Logitech Rumblepad 2. (As a quick aside, for those still looking for a good Super Hexagon control scheme; shoulder buttons on the 360 pad, thank me later.)

The levels present the player with a variety of challenges varying from slow enemies to fast missiles to blades and just generally difficult timing. Everything that you enjoyed from the gameplay of tough platformers like Super Meatboy is present and correct, and I’d say done on par if not better than its competitors. Something I’d really like to mention is the instant respawn button which seems like a small addition but instead allows you to quickly abandon a lost cause attempt and instantly respawn at the nearest checkpoint. Slow or drawn out respawns can be one of those rage-quit inducing elements for a genre that generally suffers quite badly from that in general. The instant respawn relieves this somewhat in much the same way as the fast Super Hexagon respawns do, dropping rage quit rates significantly. There’s no lack of content; 4 worlds each consisting of 15 challenges should keep you busy, especially as they aren’t what I would call easy. There is a story to follow, I’ve not made it through all of it, and it does seem a little silly but I’m perfectly ok with that because hey, it’s fun. I’m tempted to say I’m not likely to need another platformer for a long, long time.

The aesthetic is absolutely worthy of mention when looking at Electronic Super Joy. The foreground is generally a black silhouette in an 8 bit graphics resolution, the background varies from level to level normally involving bold primary colours and dynamic patterns. There are exceptions in this style which are often used to introduce new challenges to the game, such as a black and white colour dynamic background altering the visibility of the black foreground. I seem to keep drawing comparisons to Super Hexagon despite the games being very different, but in the case of the aesthetic it feels very similar. The appearance of the game is unique and in my opinion fantastic. The dynamic nature of both the aesthetics and level design and the manner in which they respond to cues from the music and gameplay is excellent and keeps the game feeling fresh level after level. This is bold, colourful and exactly what you’d hope for from a game called Electronic Super Joy.

If there could be a perfect audio representation of the visual aesthetic of Electronic Super Joy then frankly it couldn’t be anything other than the chosen music. Composed by ENVY the soundtrack is a mix of techno, dance and house that is truly compelling. The OST is worthy as a stand-alone album as a variety of electronic styles has been merged into a surprisingly consistent package, a description which sounds surprisingly close to the achievements in the gameplay and aesthetics. The music becomes a part of the game: The gameplay, the aesthetic and the music are part of this triple whammy that as a whole is the best of all worlds. Outstanding platforming gameplay is supported by and dynamically changes to an aesthetic that in turns responds to the music in the same manner. This is a lot of praise I’m aware, but the music is just so good and I’m happy to unapologetically praise it until the cows come home. The soundtrack is available from the Humble Store, but I’d recommend getting it from the Bandcamp link as that provides both parts of the soundtrack and your choice of formats (inc. FLAC). Perhaps a more questionable element of the sound design is the soundbites that play when hitting checkpoints, all I’ll say is that if you’ve got a kid playing the game or are afraid of something that sounds a little NSFW then hit up the options menu and switch to PG mode.

The game is available on PC, Mac and Linux and whilst it’s available on Steam I’d absolutely recommend getting the game through the home page using the Humble Store applet. This provides a Steam key as well as DRM free downloads for all platforms, can’t go wrong with that. The home page also states that  iOS and Android versions are in the works. I’m not sure how this will tie into existing Humble purchases but it could be that the Android port will become available through the Humble Library thanks to an existing purchase, I can’t be sure on this but it’s another good reason to go Humble rather than Steam direct. Obviously this absolutely isn’t going to apply to an iOS because that’s an awful locked down OS. There’s also no mention of WinPho, so all 4 of you silly enough to get that can go play on your Xbox or something. PSA; buy Android. The pricing is similar across the board although from the Humble Store it’s marginally cheaper at $7.99 (approx £5.00) compared to Steam’s $8.78 (approx £5.49), again go Humble. As I said before; if you want the soundtrack then go for the Bandcamp version, I’ll provide a link.

In short then, if you like platformers then Electronic Super Joy is a must own and if you just have a passing interest in platformers then I’d recommend checking out some gameplay videos and strongly considering a very worthwhile purchase.

Electronic Super Joy Homepage:

Electronic Super Joy Payment Options (best choice):

Electronic Super Joy Soundtrack Bandcamp (best OST choice):

Electronic Super Joy Steam Page:

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