Reviewed: November 9, 2011
Released: October 11, 2011
Every now and then a game comes along that is so unique and stylish; you almost have no choice but to fall in love with it, even when the gameplay itself is not all that exceptional. Viewtiful Joe, PixelJunk, Jet Set Radio, even LittleBigPlanet for that matter; all are fantastic experiences in their own right and considered to be gaming classics. But none would have garnered much of a second look from gamers had it not been for their stylish visual presentation – because in all cases the gameplay is pretty standard fare.|
Sideway: New York is similar in that the game’s visual style far outweighs the traditional 2D gameplay. That is not to say there is anything necessarily wrong with the gameplay – Sideway: New York is a highly enjoyable platformer in its own right – but the visual presentation is really where it is at.
Sideway: New York is a story about “taggers” – graffiti artists – in the urban areas of New York City. The gamer plays as a character named Nox, a hip-hop tagger who has made the mistake of painting over the work of the graffiti uber-villain, Spray. Spray confronts Nox, and through some hocus-pocus, sucks him into the 2D world of graffiti where he must traverse across the city’s five boroughs to free himself from his painted prison. And this is precisely where Sideway takes an interesting and stylized turn; rather than resorting to some new “graffiti world” representation of New York City like most games would have done (Jet Set Radio), Sideway slaps Nox onto the sides of the 3D buildings and fences that make up the city.
Our spray-painted hero must travel from building to building using window ledges, piping runs, electrical panels, and crates as his platforms while he wraps around the edges of buildings and onto their rooftops. It doesn’t get more 2D than this folks, and the overall effect is fascinating. Especially when the game messes with gamers’ perceptions by changing gravity relative to the direction Nox enters and leaves the rooftop surfaces.
Simply put, Nox hops up to the blackened rooftops, gravity is set by which way his body is oriented – with the head being “up” and the feet being “down”. Since each rooftop has four possible faces from which he can ascend, there are four possible layouts to be encountered. This adds an additional puzzle element, as most rooftops require manipulation of this gravity mechanic to reach certain objectives and loot.
No platformer would worth its salt without bad guys, and Sideway is filled with its own array of airbrushed baddies. And while the game definitely takes a hip-hop approach to its presentation, the beauty of using graffiti is that these enemies can be purely random to the urban environments – who would expect an octopus to pop up in an alley? Well, they do in Sideway: New York, along with a host of other stylized creatures and obstacles.
Again, there’s that word – stylized. And it is really the word that best sums Sideway up – from the trendy visual presentation to the excellent hip-hop soundtrack, Sideway: New York has style oozing from every pore. And while the whole of Sideway: New York nearly 5 hours to complete, the slick visual presentation never gets old.
Sideway: New York may not be an epic platformer, but it is a great deal of fun and certainly worth the $10 price point. While it may not introduce innovative gameplay, the stylish presentation and imaginative artwork makes it one of those games that gamers will pick up just to show friends how cool a game can be.