Concursion – What We Think
Cutesy cartoon graphics belie the difficulty of the debut game from Puuba. Like such modern classics as Braid, Concursion is an attempt at thinking of the platformer in a new way; instead of puzzles, though, it relies on sheer reflexes, cramming elements of all the most frustrating twitch-based ’80s and ’90s game styles into what appears to be a simple Mario clone.
Jetpack Space Pilot Ninja Knight to the Rescue
The basic premise of Concursion is that the universe is falling apart; the cutesy medieval-style platformer, complete with adorable dragons, is beset with rifts in the space/time continuum. Jump into a rift, and your platform-jumping hero becomes a sword-fighting ninja, or a jetpack-powered space explorer or a fighter pilot…or even a dot-munching Pac-Man-style maze runner!
The point isn’t the multiple genres in and of themselves, however, but how they interact with one another. Because your hero behaves differently in each genre, as you skip from zone to zone within a single level or screen you’ll need to take advantage of your different powers. The ninja’s double-jumping ability might be required to avoid pit traps, for example, and the SHMUP’s fighter might be needed to blast through a wall for the jetpack explorer.
Spikes to Dislike
Because multiple zones are placed throughout each level, and because you can’t control where they appear (and some of them even move!), you’ll have to pay close attention to the way they interact with one another. What in the platformer appear to be solid blocks might turn out to be deadly spikes in the ninja game, or even empty space.
Enemies behave similarly, so a cute bouncing dragon might suddenly transform into a samurai warrior or alien spaceship after hitting a certain part of the screen. Concursion makes particularly clever use of this premise during boss fights, which throw in even more ’90s references by pitting your hero’s various guises against the likes of turn-based JRPG characters and Street Fighter-style brawlers.
Jump Up, Jump Up and Fall Down
In practice, this ends up requiring some quick reflexes and a lot of jumping. There are puzzles, but for the most part they require more muscle memory than brains. And thanks to infinite lives and plenty of mid-level checkpoints, you’ll get plenty of practice falling to your death. On the one hand, this is a great way to avoid the frustration of missing a single button-push and having to start the game over from the very beginning. On the other hand, replaying the same 10 brutal seconds of a particularly tough level dozens or hundreds of times in a row is its own source of frustration, though it’s quite a rush when you finally manage to beat a particularly pernicious level.
At first look, you might think Concursion is a sort of meta-commentary on platformers themselves, but a thoughtful, immersive puzzler this isn’t; with its unforgiving focus on speed and twitch, it’s more Super Meat Boy than Braid. This isn’t a commentary on classic game genres; it’s a beautifully executed but sadistic remix of them, perfectly designed to test your reflexes and your blood pressure.
Watch the trailer for Concursion below: