Concursion is the first game by developer Puuba, and the studio has decided upon taking a rather interesting approach to this debut title. You see in Concursion you don’t have just one game genre to deal with but five, and these all mix within levels meaning you have to react quickly to deal with the sudden changes that come your way. In one moment you could be playing a traditional 2D platformer, and then find yourself in a spaceship avoiding fire and obstacles while shooting at other ships. All of that in the space of seconds.
The other three genres that come into play include homages to the likes of Shinobi, where you transform into a ninja and are armed with a sword, Pac Man, and the Helicopter game, though you’re an astronaut instead. The latter may not be known to some so Flappy Bird is the more current reference point there. The mix of such contrasting genres can be overwhelming but as you spend more time with Concursion the more natural it all feels.
However that’s not to say the five game types are all as equally good as each other, with the ninja, maze and space shoot ’em up being the more entertaining pieces in this genre mix quintology. The regular platformer just seems to be a bit boring, mixed with puzzles that needed perfectly timed jumps and if you failed you’d die. I also wasn’t a fan of the astronaut portions purely because it really slowed down the pacing of a game that encourages speed running to get through levels.
Each level has a time attack on it as well as gems to collect, with different time lengths for you to beat. You don’t have to complete levels within that allotted time, but when a level dares you to beat it within a minute it’s a challenge that’s hard to resist. Of course some levels are easier than others, and generally you’ll have to avoid collecting the gem pieces to beat the time. The challenge itself can be very forgiving though as the counter resets to the last checkpoint value if you die. So, if you’re stuck on a certain point you can lose, then pass it and Concursion could say you finished a level in 90 seconds, even if in reality it takes ten minutes of trial and error.
Most of the levels will follow the same pattern in which you have to learn a bit at a time, die and then try for the successful run, even if that means just getting to a checkpoint. It’s in the trial and error phase where you’ll learn how to switch between the different controls as you move through different dimensions, though the shift between the games can vary between smooth to absolutely frustrating. There was one stand out swear-inducing moment where you are flying your spaceship, and then you’re soon confronted by a small gap where you switch to the ninja to double jump across. It took a little while because the position at which you approach the gap, and when you pressed the jump button had to be near enough perfect.
Though that was rather annoying there is one part of the game that almost makes you want to quit Concursion and never return. That is the first boss level where you fight a lizard creature that controls a bomb flinging UFO. The aim is to avoid the bombs and then jump on the UFO at the right time to do some damage. Sounds simple enough but the character you use for this part is the generic platformer guy who can run a bit fast. His weakness is that he can only take two hits and then he dies.
At first you’re only avoiding one bomb at a time, then the speed increase, then the number of explosive ordinance being flung at once increases. Moving is key but more often than not you’ll get caught by one of the bombs while trying to avoid another, which in turn means you lose 50% of your health, and that adds some stress. It took me an absolute age to pass this level, and is in fact one of the reasons the review is later than I had anticipated. There’s no way to skip the level and I quit a lot of times.
The art style of the game is decent with a wide range of colours, and each of the five dimensions have their own unique style. One of the interesting things is that enemies can also move through the portals, and will change into the relevant enemy type of that area. So for example you can get a spaceship that hits a portal and turns into a lizard creature just walking along. However, there are a couple of questionable designs including the end level celebration, in which the player avatar does a little dance and ends it by going on his tiptoes, except he is quite clearly floating off the ground.
Concursion has some signs of brilliance but Puuba may have taken on more than was needed. The astronaut sections just don’t belong in an otherwise fast game, while there was something missing from the platforming section to make it exciting. Other than that I found the ninja, space and maze levels much more entertaining. The controls (which can be edited) need a bit more tightening to give players a tiny bit of leeway too. There are glimmers of greatness in Concursion but it is let down but some odd pacing and ridiculous difficulty spikes.