Review: Sideway: New York

Sideway: New York • PS3 • £7.99 • Out Now on PSN

2D in a 3D world

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That’s the mantra that was drilled home to me when I wanted to rebuild my LEGO masterpieces long after the instructions had been eaten by the hamster or turned to a satisfying, if very unhelpful, mush by the washing machine. I did not heed this lesson and my medieval castle became a very long wall with seven doorways and was easily destroyed by the dragon, who also happened to be my sister.

That’s why platformers all have the same premise, essentially built around Super Mario Brothers, and Sideways: New York is no different, even to the female friend of unknown relation that has been kidnapped who you need to save her by jumping over things. Where S:NY earns its stripes is in aesthetic and some nice gameplay touches.

As you can see from the pictures, this game is set in a 3D world, but you are 2D – a 2D graffiti painting to be precise. You can travel only on flat surfaces of the buildings, and while you are unable to traverse past wires, pipes or windows, they make excellent platforms to launch yourself higher. It’s quite a clever mechanic which sees the perspective constantly change and your neck twist and turn, and it is matched with a bundle of well thought out, challenging levels.

That’s not to say that this is a puzzle game though, as the focus is most definitely on platforming, as can be seen with another platformer staple, the enemies. It’s good to see a nice variety of enemies in this game, each requiring different skills to destroy, something which a lot of games could learn from. The graphics add to the experience too, with a distinctive urban theme prevalent, rarely found elsewhere, and with some neat little touches such as paint spraying while you’re gliding, or wings appearing on the wall when you jump at high speed.

You’d be unhappy at being pulled into a portal too…

The other area in which tweaks are made is in the upgrade system, with new abilities becoming available through completion of hidden areas, some of which add to the experience, while others are barely used – the shield upgrade, for example is obtained a platform below where you need to use it and never has to be used again (at least, I didn’t) – which makes the system very hit and miss. The health upgrade system is a little pointless too; the game is very liberal with its checkpoints

A few issues do need to ironed out though should Playbrains attempt a sequel. The co-op mode is shoddy, and quite an unnecessary addition to the game, as it doesn’t add anything. As it is, the camera follows only player 1, and as you’re both traversing walls and roofs at a fair speed, the 2nd player won’t be able to catch up. Also, if you’ve read as far as this, that’s how long it’ll take for the soundtrack to go from being quite fun to making you want to strangle a cat – the soundtrack has about four songs all by the same guy, so variety gets kicked out of the window very early on. Finally, the boss fights are really very poor and slow down the action immensely, which takes half the point out of the game.

However, this is not a game to be weighed down by its faults as there are plenty of good ideas and unique attributes. While it may only take 3 to 4hours to complete, for £8 it’s decent value and another trophy in the cabinet for PSN exclusives.

+ Unique gameplay mechanic
+ Fantastic visuals
+ Nice variety in levels

– Lax co-op execution
– Grating soundtrack
– Poor boss battles

Verdict: 7/10
An interesting concept with a decent execution – just play it on mute after the first half hour…

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