Electronic Super Joy opens with a warning screen advising the following:
If, like me, you looked at this warning and thought that because you do not have epilepsy you would enjoy Electronic Super Joy as a seizure-free experience, you would be wrong. Firstly, because no sane person could possibly enjoy this game – unless of course they shut their eyes, put on a good pair of headphones, ate a bunch of disco drugs and simply listened to the soundtrack. And secondly, because Electronic Super Joy is so brutally difficult that it will, at some stage, cause your body to contort with inhuman rage spasms. I speak from experience.
Honestly I can’t quite describe the nature of Electronic Super Joy. But I figured where words fail, numbers speak volumes. So, check these figures. In Electronic Super Joy:
• 0.8 seconds is the approximate length of a quick respawn animation.
• 3.15 seconds is the approximate length of the full respawn animation.
Therefore (provided you’re actually dying) each time you hit the quick respawn button (Y), you save yourself approximately 2.35 seconds. If you then multiply this saving (2.35 seconds) by the players aggregate deaths (in my case 2,704), you will discover the total amount of time that the quick respawn button has saved the player (in my case roughly 6,354 seconds). In other words, the addition of a quick respawn button has given me another 1 hour and 50 minutes of actual life.
What I’m trying to say here, is that Electronic Super Joy is stupidly difficult, especially for anyone inept at platformers. But despite this difficulty, something kept me coming back, even after I’d screamed obscenities and thrown my controller, and even after I had promised myself I wouldn’t. So props to the team at Michael Todd games for transcending the barriers of sense and emotion and creating a truly addictive experience.
Put simply, Electronic Super Joy is an extravagant platformer: an eclectic mix of irreverent humour, psychedelic visuals and a rave inspired soundtrack. Now in theory, the combination of these ingredients could make for a way-too overwhelming product. But in reality, they come together to form a wonderful and unique experience that I’m not going to forget anytime soon.
Electronic Super Joy consists of 64 levels, including the standard campaign worlds, the aptly named Micro-Hell campaign and the Xbox exclusive bonus levels. While some of these levels were more enjoyable than others (the earlier, easier ones specifically), every level was memorable in its own right. The attention to detail is impeccable with the flashing backgrounds, lasers, enemies and homing missiles. Generally, the screen is filled with more detail than it is physically possible to perceive, and a lot the time the game’s difficulty hinges upon this. Of course, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated with the screens clutter (most of which is trying to kill you), but that same attention to detail makes each level a unique and memorable challenge. For, when I played through the campaign levels again to gather the collectible stars, I found myself chuckling and shaking my head remembering what the level entailed and the rage it elicited.
Typically the levels are formulaic of a platformer, with the ”starting at point A and travelling to point B while dodging or destroying four-hundred-thousand obstacles” approach. Even so, the most memorable level, “Big Sexy Beast”, is one where the game diverts from the typical platformer blueprint; and for the amount of fun they bring, these sorts of levels are far too scarce. I’m not saying that the other levels aren’t good. In fact, the amusing banter from characters and the changing of power-ups between levels adds a fresh twist to the formula, and the visuals and ambience would be enough to refresh even the most tried and tested formulas. But the game would have profited from spending a little more time in unfamiliar territory.
As crass as they are, the respawn recordings (which I’m sure are sourced from actual porn films) are hysterical. And even when they wear thin, they’re quickly revived when your house-mate wonders, “What exactly are you watching in there?” And the soundtrack is also fantastic. It should speak for itself that I still enjoy the songs after hearing them multiple times.
My only criticism of the game is the story, because while it is funny, it’s also weak. The entire campaign revolves around a “Groove-Wizard” kidnapping your butt, and the additional Micro-Hell content is based on you seeking revenge for “Micro-Satan” farting on your dog. So, Electronic Super Joy isn’t winning any literature awards for its plotlines. That said, the plot doesn’t seem neglected as much as it does purposefully bad. And as nonsensical as it is, it doesn’t even come close to devaluing the Electronic Super Joy experience. To be honest, the story actually fits with game’s image. So overall Michael Todd games have done exceptionally. But I had to criticize something, and in the straight A class of Electronic Super Joy, Mr Storyline, with his C+ Pass-Marks, was the obvious choice.
Before I conclude I’ll say it again, because I am absolutely sure, no one could possibly enjoy this game. But isn’t that the point? You die a bunch of times, get frustrated and walk away. You come back, and when you’ve learned from your mistakes and beaten the level, you’re rewarded with an immense feeling of accomplishment. See, that sense of gratification wouldn’t exist without the preceding struggle and frustration. Only a brave game attempts this, and only a fantastic one pulls it off; Electronic Super joy is both.
It retails for a fraction of the price of AAA releases, yet Electronic Super Joy is more addictive and polished than any big budget game I’ve played recently. Now, some will say that its job was much easier than that of the AAA releases, but I will say it’s not about the job itself, rather it’s about how you do it. In short Electronic Super Joy measured its abilities and chose its boundaries accordingly, and it has done a magnificent job of filling them.
It’s worth your money, it’s worth your time. More than that, it’s worth your anger.