Today marks the official release of Concursion, a genre-bending indie game created by the folks at Puuba. In her first preview for Gamecrastinate back in February, Nicole Oquendo took a look at a very early build of the game and found it to be quite promising. Since February, Concursion’s development has been going at a rapid pace. With the game finally released on Steam today, it’s my turn to take a look at this unique title.
The game starts you off with an intro cinematic that feels reminiscent of the classic Mario story. A princess is kidnapped by a big green monster and it’s your job to rescue her. One of the fun things about Concursion is that it doesn’t pretend to be different than its predecessors. Instead, Concursion takes inspiration from a huge mix of classic games and is clearly proud of it. The uniqueness of Concursion doesn’t come from how different it is from the classics. Concursion is different because it actually is the classics, they have just been combined into one crazy game.
At its core, you could probably call Concursion a platformer. In some ways though, Concursion has so much going on that you could say that it’s actually the beginning of an entirely new genre. Maybe instead of a platformer we should be calling Concursion a Retro-Mashup. That feels like a more fitting genre than the boring old platformer name could ever be for a game like this.
Things start out pretty easy, you start off in a Mario style game where you jump on the heads of monsters and hurdle over bullets fired from a cannon. As you move through the different levels though, Concursion begins to add in elements from a wide range of classic games. Before you know it you’ll be flying in a side-scrolling spaceship shooting enemies, or wall-jumping around as a ninja. The trick with Concursion is that you’re not just doing one of these things at a time, you’ll be doing some or all of them to complete a single level.
As the game progresses, you’ll see rifts between the 5 unique worlds featured in the game. Jumping across dimensions morphs your character into an entirely new one, complete with new physics and abilities. The levels are designed in a way that forces you to transition back and forth between worlds using the strengths of one world to get you across to the next section. In some missions the rifts are stationary, which requires a lower level of skill to maneuver around. For the missions that feature moving portals, get ready to have a heart attack. Further complicating things are the green shards that you’ll be aiming to grab during the level. They are oftentimes difficult to reach and require an even higher level of skill.
You’ll note that I said you need some skill to play the game, that’s because Concursion is probably the among the most difficult games I’ve ever played. Maybe it’s because I’m terrible at platformers, that’s surely a factor here, but the constant transitions between worlds makes for a game that requires a steady hand and quick reactions. As you become accustomed to the transitions between worlds, you’ll begin to see the genius that is Concursion’s game design. You might be good at some retro-games, but mastering them all is no easy task. Although mastering Concursion is a feat that I may never do, watching a skilled player go through a level is a thing of beauty. I can’t wait to see what happens as the various speedrunning communities get their hands on this game. To make things even more insane, Concursion features a number of boss battles that add even more game mechanics to the mix. The whole experience is just a dream come true for a player that loves perfecting difficult and fast-paced games.
There’s a lot of clever humor and shout-outs throughout the game as well. Levels with names such as Road Squadron or Harvest Swoon are just a few examples of the clever level names featured in the game. Graphically, Concursion is beautifully done in a unique art style that manages to make each of the worlds feel distinct. The only bit of criticism that I have is that it felt like a controller was absolutely required. I tried playing solely using my Razor keyboard, the result was that I died a lot. It wasn’t until I plugged in my Xbox 360 controller that I was able to control my movements in a manner that I felt the game required. It might be a bit much to say that all players will need a controller to do well, but I do feel most will prefer it.
Overall, I encourage you to actually try out Concursion for yourself, as no amount of words could do this game justice. Concursion is a game that you truly must experience to fully appreciate. In closing, I’d like to formally request that an Excitebike-inspired level be included in Concursion 2.