Truth be told, I haven’t experienced the franchise’s debut, Electronic Super Joy, but the sequel is fun in its own right, if not a little tedious. At its core, it’s a platformer that is very clearly inspired by Super Meat Boy (which spawned its own spiritual successor, The End is Nigh). There’s a fine line between being unfair and challenging, and Electronic Super Joy 2 walks that tightrope precariously, leaning a little too far off the edge for comfort.
Visually, Electronic Super Joy 2 is a stunning treat. It’s vibrant, simplistic and filled to the brim with neat little droplets of sparkly effects. It’s nice to get a 2D indie jump-and-runner that isn’t god awful to look at with jarring designs and wonky animations, so it’s refreshing, to say the least.
That being said, the gameplay, whilst silky smooth and oh-so-refined, is break-your-balls levels of ouch, but the developers have been kind enough to sprinkle in a healthy dose of checkpoints to alleviate the inevitable rage that builds up. Surprisingly enough, even the final boss fight has checkpoints, being a classic chaser much like the many that appeared in the game that inspired this one – given how tricky the jumps can be and how tight-knit and punishing the level design is, this was a pleasant surprise (and not to the patronizing handholding levels of the bonfires in Dark Souls 3).
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However, not every single platforming section is all rainbows and sunshine, as there’s far too many auto-scrolling portions which were the absolute bane of my childhood years playing Mario on the DS – let me go at my own pace rather than cramming an invisible barrier up my backside. It’d be fine if they were small in number, but they aren’t, so it can get tedious. On top of that, there’s really weirdly, poorly designed, janky and jarringly unpolished classic 3D FPS portions – eight to be precise. For some reason, it transitions from Super Meat Boy to Doom 64 which jumbles the pacing and leaves a sour aftertaste. It screams that the developers wanted to do something to spice up the sequel but it feels so out of place and more of an afterthought.
Final Score: 71%
If you enjoy painstakingly punishing platformers that test your mettle in the hop-filled arena, then Electronic Super Joy 2 will scratch that itch, but otherwise, it’s a hard indie title to get into and one that has all of its faults neatly on display.
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