Electronic Super Joy: Groove City

“Buttless, you wondered”. Electronic Super Joy: Groove City continues the sense of humour that was rife throughout it's predecessor. In that game the evil Wizard stole your butt and you were tasked with defeating him and re-claiming your butt back for yourself. Now, ten years later, Groove City has been rebuilt and all was going well. That is, until a giant robot stripper lost her laser nipples and rampaged, destroying all in her path leaving the city in ruins. Time to get back to work!

These games aren't really about narrative though. They are hard-as-nails platformers with pumping house music, bright colours and rage inducing areas. Groove City is considerably shorter than it's predecessor, but the level design is more varied and shows great improvement. There are a greater range of backgrounds, themed levels add variety and the pacing works well.

ESJ: Groove City

Gameplay is very similar to what you'd expect. Checkpoints still saucily go “oooooooooh yeah”, “ohhhhhhhhh” and “YES” every time you hit one. There are levels which automatically scroll leaving you with very little time to judge your upcoming actions, dancing NPCs talk to you as you pass them and you still aim to get to the giant star to complete a level.

There are a couple new mechanics though which add a great amount of challenge to the game. The first are black stars. Each one you collect turns into a missile above you. It took me a while to realise that was happening making some of the areas a lot harder than they needed to be! These are placed in ways so that collecting them is sometimes inevitable or make you think twice about your exact route through the level. Of course, you could just collect them (they give you points as well) and run as fast as you can through the level with the trail of many many missiles following you. There is no stomp in this game so there is no way to destroy these missiles. I found the lack of stomp a little frustrating at first; I used it for precision jumps in ESJ, but the levels are designed in such a way its not needed or missed.

There is a new enemy type worth mentioning. They are small and run across the platform they are on every time you touch the ground. Again, there is no way of killing the enemy, you have to time your jumps to perfection to leapfrog them and some of the implementation in the levels are great. These sections really test your reactions, and some took me several attempts to get past.

The distinct music returns for this game. Again, like many other aspects, it's a little more varied, with some occasional piano interludes changing the pace and atmosphere. Groove City is best played in the dark, with headphones and a controller. It took me just under an hour to reach the end and while it was mostly difficult throughout, there were a couple areas that took me two dozen or so attempts to pass. While this can lead to some frustration, the relief and satisfaction of finally conquering the area is great. There are several secret areas as well, though I only found one in my play through.

ESJ: Groove City

Groove City ends with a boss battle that, while looking great, was a little underwhelming and short. Thats the only real criticism I've got for the game. The game left me wanting more, but that was because I was having such a good time with it. Thinking about it, the hour play time allows concise levels with minimal repetition. I'll go back to replay it, again in one session, and attempt to find the remaining secrets that alluded me first time round.

Electronic Super Joy: Groove City is a must if you enjoyed the first game. If you're new to the series I'd recommend playing the original first. It's longer and not as difficult in most places. While it left me wanting more, Groove City is a great reason to jump back in to the crazy, funny and down right bizarre world of Electronic Super Joy.

4

In Short

  • + Improvement on Electronic Super Joy.
    + Greater level design variety.
    + Still hard as hell in some places.
    + Some dialogue made me laugh out loud

  • - The hour play time left me wanting more.
    - Final boss is somewhat underwhelming.

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