It Certainly Doesn’t Mince Words – Platformer From Hell Indie Review For Xbox 360
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Platformers have been a staple of gaming consoles since long before Mario and Luigi graced us with their adventures through the Mushroom Kingdom. Platform games are notorious for requiring a steady hand, a trained eye, and some decent memory skills to make your way past the most difficult levels to achieve your goals. Hoosier Games, however, makes you stay on your A-game through every level of their aptly titled Platformer from Hell for the Xbox 360, and requires you to dig in even deeper if you’re to make it to the end.
Platformer from Hell follows the adventures of Tie Guy, who, on the way to meet delicious fate with a pastrami sandwich, took the elevator to what he thought would be the mezzanine deli. Tie Guy was wrong, and now he’s got to make his way out of the fiery depths of Hell if he wants to be with his precious sandwich ever again!
This 2D platforming game has a pretty simple premise: navigate your way through a series of obstacles such as fire pits, reversible platforms (one side being safe to stand on, the other side full of horribly disfiguring spikes), spikey turtle shells and more, to get to the door on the other side of the course. But, like the name implies, this is a game that shows absolutely no mercy and has no problem reminding you who’s the boss with horribly brutal deaths awaiting Tie Guy at every misstep.
On each floor you’ll find a secondary goal of a dollar bill (or as it’s referred to in the prologue, the Root of All Evil) that must be collected in order to unlock the bonus floor at the end of a world. This doesn’t prevent you from moving on to the next world if you’ve already completed the five normal floors, but if you’re a completionist of sorts, it’ll be one more thing to do. Beware, however, as you will find quite often that you’ll have to go far out of your way to acquire your cold hard cash, and even sometimes start the map back at the beginning after grabbing it.
Like many indie platformers, or Sonic 4 Ep. 1, the typical notions of physics encountered in most games of the genre don’t apply here. This means that your Tie Guy is going to go exactly where your controller guides him, and it also means that just about all of the frustrations you’ll encounter through the game are your fault and yours alone. Each floor is carefully crafted in a way where just about every step has to be accounted for, lest you find yourself starting back at the beginning of that floor, with a new number incremented on your death counter. Yes, it keeps track of how many times you’ve died in the game, because it knows you’ll lose count.
Hoosier Games does an exceptional job of creating a number of challenging – and oftentimes frustrating – series of levels worthy of its moniker, and while it’s a great laugh going through the first twenty or thirty times trying to accomplish a new floor, it can slow the game down to a horrible grind which starts to bleed the fun away until the increasingly difficult boards feel more like work than a game. Once you’ve finally cleared that horrible hurdle, a sense of elation will wash over you – until the new floor populates on-screen for another 30 or 40 rounds.
Each world is thematically different from the others to give the game some variety while sticking to the 16-bit palette to build in. The first Hell world is very ‘hellish’ in varying shades of reds, browns, and oranges. Fire dances along the walls and floors waiting to burn Mr. Guy to a cinder at the slightest touch, with steel grey platforms and spikes everywhere. In contrast, the second world is more ghoulish, with stone brick, wood, and moss adorning the backgrounds as you bound across acid floes awash in a green hue. Unfortunately, a drawback to having such lush backgrounds is that they do on occasion meld with the foreground and can make your mission even tougher than it already is. There were more than a few instances of deaths that I could attribute to unseen spike traps or other obstacles because they were masked by the pretty scenery.
The music, too, is wonderfully composed and a delight to listen to. While it can get a bit repetitive, especially when you’re on your 73rd run-through of a level, but each world gets its own distinctive theme, and you’ll find even more in the menus and credits. I especially enjoy the cabana theme as it gives the game a bit of a Maniac Mansion air about it.
Hoosier Games has managed to build a platformer that’s both charming and downright frustrating. Normally, I would spew hatred in the direction of an abomination that would require you to invest a massive amount of time into dying for a tiny moment of pride before breaking you across its knees all over again, but the title kind of tells you what you’re signing yourself up for. Quite frankly, as much as it pisses you off, the game is horribly addicting as well. For 80 Microsoft Points, it’s definitely one to pick up and kill some time during the slow season of gaming while we wait to hear more tiny morsels about the upcoming PS4 and Xbox 720.
Platformer from Hell receives a 4.0/5.0.
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