Concursion
Gameplay 9
Graphics 6
Sound 9

Concursion is definitely a game that will defy expectations. It is not as straightforward as it first appears and the way that five different genres have been combined seamlessly is impressive to say the least. Individually none of the genres would really have stood out, but mixed together they offer gameplay experiences that are just not possible elsewhere. While the visuals are not that great the audio is superb and Concursion offers plenty of challenging content. This is not a game that you will be completing in a hurry.

Gameplay: A challenging, but addictive blend of five different genres and styles.

Graphics: Plenty of variety, but I’m not a big fan of the visual style.

Sound: The soundtrack is great and seamlessly changes along with the playing styles

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Concursion

Developer: Puuba | Publisher: Mastertronic | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

A princess has been kidnapped by a scaly villain called Biganbad and a hero has been summoned to rush to her rescue. Anyone that has played a platform title in the past 30 years is probably rolling their eyes at this point, but don’t despair as things are not quite as straightforward as you might think. Somehow rifts between realities have opened in the gameworld, which not only complicates the rescue attempt somewhat, but also ensures that your gaming abilities are tested to the max.

As we have already played the demo and had a chat with the lead developer of the game we know that Concursion was going to be something special. Now that we finally had a chance to complete the full game, it is obvious just how special it really is. Concursion is a game where five different genres have been mashed into one and we are not talking about levels alternating between different styles. Each level is littered with rifts, some big, some small, which when entered switches the genre of the game. One minute you might be running and jumping around in a Mario style platformer and the next you are in a R-Type style horizontal shooter dodging asteroids and shooting down spaceships. Enter the next rift and it could be a Ninja Gaiden style hack-n-slash, complete with double jumps, wall grabs and sword attacks or even a Pac-Man style maze game where you have to collect colored dots to open doors. There is even a rift where your hero is given a Jetpack and has to thrust his way past obstacles and enemies without being able to retaliate. Initially the rifts are quite big and give you plenty of time to become accustomed to the new style, but this doesn’t last very long.

Before long the rifts become smaller and smaller to the point where you might jump in and out of two or three of them in the space of a few seconds. This not only requires plenty of finger dexterity, but your mind constantly has to switch gears to deal with the new threats. Each enemy, projectile and platform is different depending on the rift they reside in, which makes things challenging to say the least. Some enemies are able to move around with their rifts so you could be platforming while space debris flies at you and ninjas take potshots at you with their bows. The game is very challenging, but to prevent things from veering too far into unfair territory there are checkpoints scattered throughout and few levels take more than three minutes to complete. In fact, thanks to the leaderboards you are encouraged to race through each level as quickly as possible. This is something that the speedrunning crowd will love and with practice it is possible to shave seconds off your completion time by taking risks and performing daring moves. The first time through, you may want to take your time though, as there are crystal shards scattered throughout the levels and collecting these are vital to truly “complete” the game as well as unlocking some interesting information about the story.

Levels are selectable from a world map that also displays the fastest completion times, but your progress is linear and you can’t skip any levels if you are stuck. This may be frustrating for some players, especially when it comes to boss encounters which throws even more bizarre genre fusions such as a beat ’em up and JRPGs into the mix. As I mentioned earlier, there is rarely a dull moment in Concursion and the clever level designs which are rarely straightforward contribute a lot to this. As someone who grew up playing all these genres on 8- and 16-bit consoles, it was a real treat so see them combined together so expertly. Nothing in the levels feels like they have been strung together randomly and each rift, platform and enemy have been precisely placed to help or hinder you as you speed past them.

While I loved the game I can’t say that I am too fond of the visual style. I am impressed by the fact that there are five different versions of just about everything in the game, including the hero, but the graphics reminded me too much of my own attempts at making a game with an old program called Klik & Play during the mid 90s.  I assume that the level backgrounds had to be kept relatively simple to make it easy to spot what type of dimension you are jumping into next, but it does make things look a bit bland at times. The music on the other hand is superlative and features five variants of each song which blend together seamlessly as you shift between worlds. The game also features a victory tune for completing a level which is so catchy that I will probably never get it out of my head. Five different genres mean five different control styles to get used to and in rapid succession, but the button mapping remains about the same, so it is just a question of learning when to jump, when to double-jump and when to hold down the button to thrust. Initially it is a bit confusing and you will mess up a few times, but it soon becomes second nature and by the end of the game you will be pulling off moves that will impress the hell out of onlookers.

Concursion is a great game, but one that will undoubtedly frustrate some players. Because it covers so many different genres and because they are integrated together so tightly you really have to enjoy all of them to fully enjoy the game. The developers clearly have a lot of love for old school games and the way that everything is blended together so well is quite impressive. As long as you have the reflexes and patience you will find the game challenging, but addictive.

*Review originally published June 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1GB, OpenGL 1.5+
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 (Lion) or later
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1GB, OpenGL 1.5+
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space

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