Reviews// Concursion

Posted 13 Jun 2014 11:42 by
I remember the Banyan Tree level from Jet Set Willy. It was maddeningly difficult and required almost impossible split second timing in order to complete it. I never did. My 13 year old self from 1984 got distracted by something much more shiny in the form of Elite.

30 years later and here I am playing a frustratingly hard platform game in the form of Concursion while reading news on the soon to be released Elite: Dangerous. Now I know history has a tendency to repeat itself, but come on! The repetitious nature of reality really needs to give me a break sometimes.

But I'm sure you didn't come here to read about esoteric nonsense about the nature of the universe. No, you're here to find out my discerning opinion of Concursion, a curious mash-up based game that delves back to 1991 and comes back with all of the games from that era squished together into one. That is pretty much Concursion in a nutshell. With that premise there are a number of positive and, regrettably, negative attributes.

In Concursion the player takes on the role of a hero who has to rescue the princess from Dark Lord Biganbad who has decided to kidnap her, again. As he did so he caused ruptures in time and space that threaten to destroy the entire universe unless our hapless and somewhat clumsy hero can retrieve the princess from the ridiculously named bad-guy.

There are five game types squeezed together in Concursion. The first one the player encounters is the side scrolling platformer that is very much in the Super Mario Bros mould. Here the hero is controlled by running or walking while carrying out carefully timed jumps to reach areas of the level in order to progress. In normal mode there are a series of checkpoints that allow the player to progress without having to start the level from the beginning.

There is another level of difficultly that actually removes these but that, in my opinion at least, is for people who like being kicked in the face while playing video games. For Concursion is a punishingly difficult game that breaks the basic tenet of all platformers by having loose and imprecise controls.

This results in some very frustrating experiences that are more to do with Concursion's inept control scheme than they are to do with the player's skill. Super Mario Bros was, from the get-go, precise and fair. It was always the fault of the player when they failed, yet so many platform games never seem to understand this and Concursion definitely falls into this trap. See what I did there? No...?

The next mini-game in Concursion is the lefty-righty shoot-em up. Just like R-Type and other games of its ilk this features a single ship that the player must use to navigate showers of bullets as they traverse across the screen.

Unlike those games of old, however, the 'bullet-hell' is handled poorly in Concursion as, like the platformer section, it's intolerably difficult as the bullets follow no discernible pattern. They just splash across the screen in a seemingly random manner and the player is expected to somehow react to these little sprites of death with superhuman hand to eye coordination. Not fun. Not fun at all.
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